Let me start this off by saying my brother is not even close to being vegetarian, let alone vegan. He’s actually an avid fisherman who captains boats dozens of miles off the coast hunting for fish. Needless to say, we have our differences.
Last summer, while I was back home in Jersey I stopped by his new house. I was in the kitchen and opened the fridge expecting to find a veritable graveyard of dead animals. So you can imagine my astonishment when staring back at me were a shit ton of vegan products. Everything from Gardein to Field Roast to Daiya.
I immediately started questioning him: Was his new girlfriend vegan? Did he know I was coming over? Was he feeling alright?? He laughed it off and told me that he loves plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy because he feels they’re cleaner and healthier than animal products. He specifically mentioned that many of these products were lower in fat, all of them had no cholesterol, and that he didn’t have to worry about bringing pathogens into his house like salmonella and E. coli that are in regularly found in meat. Additionally, he told me that these vegan alternatives were super affordable and less of a hassle to cook than meat.
Though he probably wouldn’t identify this way, I actually think my brother is what you would a call a “flexitarian” – one who is not exclusively vegetarian or vegan but who regularly eats plant-based. In fact, flexitarians have been largely credited for the recent proliferation of plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs.
I decided to call my brother up this weekend and see which products are in his fridge right now and why they’re his favorites. Keep in mind too, my brother mostly shops at Walmart and a local supermarket, not health food stores. Here’s what he said:
1. MorningStar Farms Grillers Crumbles
My brother said this was one of the first plant-based meat products he tried and he instantly loved it! He said it’s super easy to heat up and goes great in tacos, burritos, or on top of nachos.
2. MorningStar Farms Chik’n Nuggets
My brother eats these all the time and said they’re excellent. In addition to the crumbles and these nuggets, he also buys other products by MorningStar that are vegetarian but not vegan. Luckily, MorningStar is working on making their entire product line vegan by 2021.
3. Field Roast Sausage
Field Roast sausages are a staple in my brother’s home. He said he loves this stuff so much he can literally eat it right out of the package! He particularly likes the apple sage and Italian flavors. He remarked that when compared to animal-based sausages, these are much lower in fat, have zero cholesterol, and also don’t gross him out.
4. Gardein Fishless Filet
OK, so this one really blew my mind since my brother is so into fishing. I actually saw this in his freezer when I was home and was like WTF? He said that he thinks the Gardein Fishless Filets are indistinguishable from actual fish and that they’re just delicious. I completely agree. In fact, I think this is one of the top plant-based products on the market right now. It’s sensational.
5. Gardein Porkless Bites
Again, my brother said that when you compare this product to actual pork, it’s just healthier. He also loves the way these taste and that all you have to do to prepare them is heat them up and throw them over rice. Easy and delicious!
6. Almond Breeze Almond Milk with Bananas
I haven’t even tried this yet but my brother told me it is AMAZING! He said he has almost no dairy in the house and instead opts for plant-based versions of things like milk, yogurt, and ice cream. He said vegan alternatives to dairy taste just as good if not better to him.
7. Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon
The Lightlife tempeh bacon is not as easy for my brother to find. He said he either has to go to Whole Foods (45 minutes away) or the local health food store to buy this stuff so he usually doesn’t have it in the house. He noted that when compared to traditional bacon, this is just so much better for you and that the taste is on point.
8. Daiya Cheese Shreds
When my brother said Daiya shreds I was like, really?? Don’t get me wrong, I am a Daiya stan — but it just seems like everyone (even vegans) has a hangup on the taste. Not my brother. He said he uses the mozzarella shreds all the time on all sorts of dishes and that he think it tastes GREAT. Why is he not vegan already??
9. White Castle Black Bean Sliders
“I rarely eat fast food…” my brother says but then tells me how much he loves this product and picks it up from Walmart all the time. Doing some research I found out that White Castle’s black bean patty is actually made by Dr. Praeger’s and that it’s packed with black beans, brown rice, and other veggies. So it may technically be fast food, but definitely better for you than most fast food options.
10. Silk Yogurt
The almond milk version of Silk’s vegan yogurts are my brother’s favorite. He said the vanilla flavor with some granola is one of his go-to snacks. Truth be told, I like the almond Silk yogurts even better than Kite Hill. Don’t judge me.
My brother wanted me to add that he basically lives on hummus — “I go through tubs of that stuff per week” — and that he and his girlfriend cook vegan a lot. He said they especially love making their own veggie burgers from scratch. Who is this man?? I used to think my brother and I couldn’t be more different, now I’m starting to thing we actually have a lot in common. ❤️