Yesterday after work I took part in a research project about meat replacement products at the Consumentenbond (Consumers Association) in The Hague. I’m a meat eater, but I am open to exploring other (vegetarian) options and possibly meat substitutes, so I was interested to discover how this discussion might affect my future choices.
With a group of eight people (myself included), two researchers and two food experts from the Consumentenbond, we discussed our ideas and beliefs about meat and meat replacement products. Besides offering us some rolls and drinks, our hosts also offered us a taste of two of the products we discussed.
One of them was the “kipstuckjes” (vegan ‘chicken’ bits) from the Vegetarische Slager (Vegetarian “Butcher”) in The Hague, and the other item was an “Insecta veggie burger” from the Belgian brand Damhert with buffalo worms as one of its ingredients. That last one might evoke some raised eyebrows or disgusted looks on the faces of the readers of this post, and it’s safe to say that it wasn’t something I thought I would ever be willing to voluntarily taste! They offered it to us, and it was up to us to decide if we wanted to give it a try or not, and.. I tried it!
Before I move on, let me be very clear about this; I would not have tried it if it looked like worms, or if it had been some other type of fried insects (that still looked like insects), because I’m pretty sure that it would have freaked the shhtt out of me! Since the burger looked like a regular veggie burger, I just gave it a go and carefully tasted a piece! To tell you the truth; it wasn’t bad at all. If I had to describe the taste, I would say that it tasted like (nope, not chicken) an omelette to me.
I think it was a case of mind over matter (if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter). I believe that we are raised to eat certain things, and unless you are the adventurous type (like one of the people in our group, who I jokingly named Indiana Jones, since he admitted to having eaten monkey brains once during his travel around the world – I kid you NOT!) you probably won’t sample some out of the ordinary food.
Had I not been in this group yesterday, I probably also would not have given it a try, but the circumstances and the discussion helped me to be a bit adventurous. Not everyone in our group wanted to try the Insecta burger, but almost everyone tried the faux chicken bits, because it seemed less ‘gross’ I think. I decided for myself yesterday that I wanted to find out what it tasted like, and this way I could sample it and form an opinion about it without dismissing it right away.
Will I every buy another Insecta burger again? I’m not entirely sure. I am however more interested in trying out some of the food that the Vegetarische Slager sells now. I am very aware that eating meat is not the best thing you can do (and I’ve written about the very interesting documentary ‘Food over Knives‘ before on my blog) and I would love to minimalize my consumption of meat, without feeling that I’m missing the taste of it. We’ll see how it goes, I guess. Let’s start with baby steps first; increasing the amount of veggies I eat, and switching to more fish instead of meat.
If you live in the Netherlands and you would like to try out the Insecta burger, you can purchase it at the Jumbo supermarket. If you do try it, let me know what you think, will you? For anyone who is interested; the results of this research project will be published in a Consumentenbond publication around December this year.