Welcome to the world of Yam Chops. This is a new butcher shop that has opened in Toronto’s Little Italy, owned by Michael Abramson. There are burgers, bangers, steaks, chicken. What you expect from a butcher, but with a vital difference. All the products are vegetarian*.
The ‘burgers’ bleed just like the real thing, but it’s only beetroot juice. The burgers themselves are made from carrots, parsnips, courgette and turnip, bound together with brown rice and mashed potato. I have to say that sounds less than appetising.
Equally unappetising sounds the ‘smoked salmon’ spread. This is made from carrots. The eponymous ‘yam chops’ are made from yams (no kidding?) and there’s even a ‘steak’ made from, wait for it, soy and pea protein.
I have no issue whatsoever with vegetarianism or indeed veganism; I’m almost veggie myself in that I genuinely can’t recollect the last time I ate any meat. However the concept of Yamchops seems to me to be a bit, well, underhand. If you don’t want to eat meat, fine. All well and good. . But it’s cheating a bit to make what you eat look and taste like something you’ve eschewed (as opposed to merely chewed.)
Of course, NY hipsters are in on the act, with Monk Meats set to open shortly, selling cheese, pastrami, brisket, and steaks all knocked up out of vegetables. The connection to monks is lost on me, but I expect Hoxton to have an offshore division soon, crammed to the rafters with gluten-free** vapers wearing hacking jackets.
The other thing is that veggies and vegans tend to get a bit aerated about processed foods, which they deem, with some justification, to be unhealthy. It’s hard to see how making ‘bleeding’ burgers out of plants isn’t processing to the nth degree, isn’t it?
There’s also a bit of a niche here. There’s a new cultural phenomenon, or at least a neologism describing it. ‘Flexitarian.’ These are people who want to cut down on the amount of meat they eat, which is laudable. However, they’re making the job harder, surely, if they keep kidding themselves with meat substitutes? I reckon they are much more likely to fall back onto meat wagon.
My advice? Go cold turkey.
*Mr Abramson has, almost inevitably, come under fire from carnivores, who lay claim to the word butcher. I imagine this is yet another made-up case of cultural appropriation. Meanwhile some of the more zealous vegans feel the word shouldn’t be used at all.
**Since all the hipsters have gone gluten-free, why has Cereal Killers been so successful? Asking for a friend.