a peek inside the fishbowl

06 May, 2008

a bit about faux meat

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

I’ve been feeling a higher-than-normal level of anxiety about our daily bread.

1) The Healthy Food Challenge. I have never read so many labels in my whole entire life. Corn syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup and all kinds of hydrogenated oils are disturbing my peace of mind.

2) Related: I have spent so much time at the grocery store it isn’t even funny. Do you know what’s been taking me so long? Picking out new products, reading the labels (see above) and pondering whether or not my family will eat the product I hold in my hands.

3) I biked to the Superstore yesterday (yay!) and forgot my produce bags (boo!)

4) I spent a week going through a mile-high pile of old Canadian Living magazines this past week. I’ve been ever-so-carefully skimming and and exacto-knifing good healthy recipes and filing them away into clear 8 x 10 sleeves in an effort to improve my culinary repertoire. I’m finally done.

5) I have spent more time and energy thinking/prepping/cooking dinners than ever before. It is exhausting.

It hasn’t been in vain, because yesterday, something happened that make it worthwhile:


 I discovered my children liked vegetarian hot dogs.

I used to pooh-pooh things like tofurky, veggie ”ham” slices and veggie dogs – you know, traditional MEAT products that were made to look like meat but weren’t actually made of meat? But after awhile it made sense to me.

I mean let’s face it, kids love hot dogs. I love hot dogs! What red-blooded carnivore doesn’t? People would look at you funny if you said you didn’t like hot dogs – it would be as if you said you didn’t like watermelon or ice cream or kitty cats. TOTAL KOO KOO CRAZYNESS.

My favourite hot dog, in fact, is dressed with grated cheddar, Dijon mustard, chopped onions, and crispy bacon.

*wipes drool*

If it was up to my kids, we’d be eating hot dogs every day. Sadly, hot dogs are not a fabulous food choice. It’s probably the most processed food you can pick up in the meat department. Each Schneider’s Red Hot for example, (a traditional brand on Canadian BBQs) contains 10 grams of fat, and 410 mg of sodium per dog … that’s 17% of your daily value. Their chicken wieners aren’t that much better. They contain less fat per serving and higher sodium than the regular ones.

Yesterday I found myself combing my local Superstore for their PC brand of veggie dogs. They are lower calorie, slightly lower sodium (390 mg/dog), and higher in protein than the alternative. There are no preservatives in them, and no artificial flavours. (fyi – The Schneider’s website does not list the ingredients of their hot dog products, so we can’t see what goes into them.) 

So there I was, at the store, with a package of faux wieners in my hand. Would my kids go for it? I took a deep breath and decided to try it.

Mark was not optimistic.

In fact, as I was making dinner he regaled me with a “humorous” anecdote about a co-worker who served veggie dogs at a family barbeque and – guess what – haha – the kid spit it out as quickly as it passed her lips! Ha ha! Thanks Mark.

Mark also announced there was no way he was going to try a soy hot dog. I’m not even going to comment further about that, but I WILL say that I wasn’t too happy about his lack of support in this area. (FEEL FREE TO DEFEND YOURSELF IN THE COMMENTS HONEY BUN.)

Here’s what I’m thinking: if there is a food your child likes to eat and there is a healthier alternative to that food, why wouldn’t you serve the healthier version of that food? i.e. multigrain pasta over the enriched white stuff? Or multigrain bread? Or higher-fibre/lower sugar cookies over regular ones?

Anyway, Mark barbequed the dogs, one of them which was a PC Blue Menu Frankfurter for himself (see, I knew he wouldn’t go for the veggie version.)

I should also add that we tried these new buns. Strangely enough I didn’t like them with a hot dog as much as I liked them with the hamburger. It was a little too chewy for my liking.

Anyway, I waited with baited breath as Emma took a bite of her soy hot dog, all wrapped and cosy in a new bun, lined with PC Organic ketchup.

”I LOVE THESE!” she exclaimed happily. In fact, there was some gushing about how much she liked them.

I debated whether or not to let the cat out of the bag, but I did tell her they weren’t made out of meat. She wrinkled her nose at the explanation of it all, but I’ll tell ya, she got over that pretty quickly and both her and Sarah wondered if there were more. More! More Soy!

I am satisfied. I’d say that was a worthwhile purchase, wouldn’t you?

12 Responses to "a bit about faux meat"

1 | The Moffman

May 6th, 2008 at 9:24 am


Hi there.
We eat soy dogs all the time. While I personally don’t like them as much as a regular beef/pork/chicken/whatever dog, they can be quite tasty.
The ones I like the best are the Schneider’s “Oh Naturel” ones. And for a change of pace and flavour, I also like the Yves Hot ‘n’ Spicy Chili Veggie Dogs. They’re really not Hot or Spicy at all, but they do have a bit more zip than the regular ones.

2 | Lex

May 6th, 2008 at 10:08 am


“What red-blooded carnivore doesn’t? People would look at you funny if you said you didn’t like hot dogs – it would be as if you said you didn’t like watermelon or ice cream or kitty cats. TOTAL KOO KOO CRAZYNESS.”

Hi. My name is Lex and I don’t like hot dogs. Feel free to look at me funny.

3 | Javamom

May 6th, 2008 at 10:30 am


All this label reading to eat food is just a little tiring, isn’t it. Makes one realize that picking up a piece of fresh, whole food and cooking it at home has a certain appeal. Both In Defense of Food and the Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan) mention this. Having said that, certain convenience foods have a certain appeal too…it’s just all so exhasperating at times!!

I grew up in Switzerland, in a city not in the mountains, and there were cows eating grass pretty much within walking distance no matter where you went (we lived in Uster, a town near Zurich). This is what we are missing here. The convenience food factor there has changed since I lived there (as a child in the 70s), and there is more of it there now than there was before, but it hasn’t taken over lives, the way it does here in N. America. I mean, here in N. America, we are taught to read labels. As opposed to picking up a piece of fruit and vegetable, feel it, smell it, and determine there on the spot if it will be for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow.

Still, we all reach for convenience foods here and there…so the labels have a place. But it is tiring…

Nice post, Andrea.

4 | porter

May 6th, 2008 at 10:54 am


I’m with Lex…I don’t really like hotdogs! My family on the other hand, all love them.

My kids are amazing for trying new food…if I told them that we were about to eat soy hotdogs they would be keen to try them…perhaps I will.

5 | Mark

May 6th, 2008 at 11:21 am


Let’s make the distinction here. I did not say there was no way I was going to “try” a soy hot dog. What I said was that I was not going to “eat” a soy hot dog. I have “tried” soy hot dogs and do not like them.

I personally have never seen the point in trying to come up with replacements for foods. If you don’t like the nutritional aspects (or lack thereof) of Hot Dogs…just don’t eat them. Find something else. If it’s a Soy Dog…it’s NOT a Hot Dog….the ocassional Hot Dog certainly won’t kill you though. It’s not an arsenic dog. Everything in moderation.

6 | andrea

May 6th, 2008 at 3:27 pm


*suspicous sideways glance at Lex and Porter*

Oh and Mark, clearly you were eating the WRONG sort of soy dog of yesteryear. They aren’t all alike you know. Even MOFF has his favourites.

7 | Lynn

May 6th, 2008 at 8:30 pm


Seconded on the Schneider’s “Oh Naturel” dogs. We’ve tried them all and these are our favourite — excellent texture and taste.

8 | Jen

May 6th, 2008 at 8:58 pm


I personally am getting tired of reading labels (yet I’m addicted, I swear!) My trips to the grocery store are now stretching to ridiculous lengths of time so I can get all my label reading in.

I bought those same buns (but for hamburgers) two weeks ago – I love them! I was forever picking pieces of bread off of regular buns – way too much bread! So these new ones suit me just fine.

I’m thinking I could give my son a soy hotdog and he’d never know the difference… considering green beans are ‘power sticks’ and mashed cauliflower are ‘potatoes’… hmmmm… will have to give it a shot this weekend :-)

9 | The Veg Next Door

May 7th, 2008 at 12:18 pm


Yay for Moffman! :-)

I think it’s nice to have an alternative. Think of all the BBQs you go to in the summer so you eat your fair share of hot dogs. I think the veggie or soy dogs are delicious. There’s even an Italian faux sausage that’s yummy. If you don’t eat meat this is a nice way to “fit in” and you don’t get the weird looks except from the person who’s doing the grilling.

10 | Miche

May 7th, 2008 at 3:59 pm


We’ve been known purchase faux meat as some in our household have developed allergies to the real thing, but miss the taste/flavour.

11 | vaalea

August 27th, 2009 at 3:39 pm


http://OttawaVeg.com if you are looking for even more faux meat options…. including vegan shrimp, lamb, chicken, duck, fish, sausage, ham, etc. The mushroom chicken is amazing!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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