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I have come across this food, but I am not sure what it is called. This is a totally vegetarian food but looks like non vegetarian. It is made up of soya(soya beans). Does any one knows whats its real name and whether such food exists or not? Also, how organic/non artificial free from chemical is it? How Hygienic is it? What are the famous restaurants in the world for it? I have heard some Chinese restaurants which offers vegetarian Chinese food, is that the same?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

I have never heard of Tofu being called "vegetable meat". There are some fake meat types based on different types of soya products (or also other plant proteins), like "fake duck". But the only product I have seen bearing the generic label "vegetable meat" is textured vegetable protein. It is made from soya beans whose fat has been extracted to be used for oil production.

As for "non artificial", I have no idea what your personal definition of "artificial" is. It doesn't grow on trees, but then neither does butter, and I have never heard people condemn butter as "artificial". It is a processed product, and it is not a traditional process, but I can't tell you if it is more or less processed than traditional heavily processed foods such as sugar. Also, the amount of chemicals involved is probably dependent on the manufacturer. I guess you have to trust the regulatory organs of your country to not allow the production of food containing something harmful. Organic? This depends on the manufacturer too. If he adhers to organic production guidelines, then it is organic. And hygienic? This is even harder to answer, it depends on not only the manufacturer's decisions about the process, but also on the day-to-day process quality measures his employees take.

There is no reason to say that "vegetarian meat" is the same as vegetarian Chinese food. A cup of rice served in a Chinese restaurant is vegetarian and Chinese, but does not include any kind of meat substitute. If I cook a French recipe and use textured soy protein as meat replacement, this makes it vegetarian, but not Chinese. There can be some overlap between the two, but I doubt that it is big. China has had social conditions leading to vegetarian lifestyles (poverty, religious restrictions) for long before production of such protein began.

I doubt that any restaurants in the world are famous for it, mainly because it is a poor meat analogue. Yes, it offers a high amount of protein. But it does not taste really like meat. World-famous restaurants are world-famous because they offer high-quality food, and no food using inferior substitutions is high-quality. Yes, there are good vegetarian restaurants, but they don't make poor imitations of meat dishes using fake meats, they offer vegetarian dishes made from good ingredients. Some of them can feature some of the more popular soy products like tofu, but they are probably not famous for their tofu, because the tofu is not the main star of all dishes.

This all assumes that what you refer to is actually the textured vegetable protein I linked, but that is far from clear from your question. Other possibilities exist, because people have long tried to find a suitable meat substitute for vegetarians and for people who can't afford real meat. Most are soy-based, like the mentioned tofu and tempeh, but there are also wheat-based ones like seitan, and I think that there was some kind of beans product used sometimes instead of meat. Without you giving us more information, we can't conclude for sure which one you mean. But the answers to the other questions is about the same, with the exception that some processing methods are older than others and so can be considered more traditional (in case this plays a role for your understanding of "artificial").

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Similarly, there are plenty of uses of tofu in Asian cuisines, but the point is not generally to be vegetarian (though if the dish is, it can be a convenient side effect); the point is to make some awesome tofu. –  Jefromi Apr 16 '12 at 23:19
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jackfruit is also one of the vegetable meat

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Interesting, I have never seen this. Is this a cultural thing, do you have examples of recipes/cooking sources which assume that a reader knows to use jackfruit when vegetable meat is mentioned? –  rumtscho Sep 9 '13 at 9:45
    
@rumtscho Just searching for "jackfruit vegetable meat" you do find a few things. –  Jefromi Sep 9 '13 at 15:20
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There's actually an industry of 'fake meat', which is making stuff that looks like meat, but isn't:

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that stuff scares me. –  Brendan Dec 7 '12 at 17:23
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The meat which is now going to be genetically produced is called veg meat. The meat which scientists have discovered. Now meat can be produced without harming the animals. They will take a very small piece of flesh from any organisms whose meat they want to produce and then they will genetically make the pieces big fleshy pieces of meat, after that it will be packed in polythenes and supplied in market to be sold.

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Hello and welcome! This site is different than the forums you might be used to. Your answer can be improved if you add some references supporting their idea. Could you give some? –  J.A.I.L. Dec 7 '12 at 9:45
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In my experience, most "soy based" vegetarian meat substitutes (other than tofu) are processed, commercially-produced foods, e.g. from companies like MorningStar Farms.

More common for homemade meat substitutes is seitan, also known as "wheat meat." This is made by mixing vital wheat gluten with various liquids and spices to make a chewy, flavorful dough, which is then boiled or steamed before use. My favorite recipe for it is from the PPK. If you use organic, chemical-free ingredients, the end product itself is also organic and chemical free.

In the US, one of the most famous vegan restaurants is Millenium in San Francisco. They also have two cookbooks.

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I'm not sure exactly what the meaning of your first statement is; tofu is generally processed and commercially produced, and one can buy things like seitan and tempeh made by just as many companies as tofu. –  Jefromi Apr 18 '12 at 16:50
    
A fair point, but it's less of a "processed food" than, for instance, a "vegetarian chicken nugget." Sort of like a block of manchego cheese is commercially produced, but not a "processed food" in the same way that spray cheese is. Does that make sense? Maybe "convenience food" would be the better term. –  sheepeeh Apr 18 '12 at 16:58
    
In what sense is tofu (soybeans soaked, ground with water, boiled, filtered, coagulated, pressed) less processed than seitan (flour kneaded in water to leave only the gluten, then formed) or tempeh (soybeans soaked, cooked, and fermented)? Yes, "vegetarian chicken nugget" is more processed than tofu - and a chicken nugget is more processed than chicken. –  Jefromi Apr 18 '12 at 19:28
    
I was specifically talking about those packaged products, and not tofu. (Especially as tofu, like seitan, can easily be made at home). –  sheepeeh Apr 18 '12 at 19:31
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Are you talking about Tofu? It is often used to make imitation meats (example: Tofurkey), and is made from soy. It's perfectly hygienic, popular around the world, and no more artificial than most other mass-produced foods -- it can be entirely organic, but is not always. It's not one of those new laboratory-produced chemicals, it's just soybeans processed similar to cheese.

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Another alternative is tempeh- fermented whole soy beans that is more meaty rather than cheesy, in my opinion. –  Sobachatina Apr 16 '12 at 16:20
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