Vegetarianism in Pop Culture: May 2008


It seems like vegetarianism is getting ever more prevalent in pop culture. Sure, the numbers of converts may not be skyrocketing, but the awareness of fake meats and even veganism is popping up in unexpected places.

First up is an episode of Hell’s Kitchen from a few weeks ago where celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, who’s always viewed vegetarians as an annoyance (though not to the degree of Anthony Bourdain), decided to test the competing chefs on their palates. He tells them to try a bunch of dishes and identify what’s missing from each. Most of them are looking for small ingredients like a spice here or there, but what’s missing in each dish is the meat. It’s pretty amazing how these chefs are fooled by mock meat:

Ramsey seems distraught by their inability to identify mock meat, but me? I was cheering.

Then, last week on the always-terrible Wife Swap, an artist from Arizona went to live with a motorbiking family who subsisted on fast food. Though the vegetarian angle was (mercifully) limited in this episode, when she enforced the rule where her host family had to eat vegetarian for a week, the father of the clan rebelled by going into town to get hamburgers on the very first morning. He taunted cows as he rode past them (on a horse because he’d been banned by the woman from using gas-powered vehicles), chomping away on his burger. He came off as quite the jerk.

The latter isn’t exactly the way I like to see vegetarianism portrayed in popular culuture, but the Hell’s Kitchen example shows that meat substitutes have come a long, long way.

Lastly, here’s a behind-the-scenes clip from a past season of Hell’s Kitchen that shows that maybe Gordon Ramsey doesn’t despise vegetarians as much as I thought. Check out how seriously he takes serving vegetarian risotto that was accidentally cooked in chicken stock:

8 Responses to “Vegetarianism in Pop Culture: May 2008”

  1. Jackie Morgan

    Awesome second clip

  2. Megan

    Maybe he was more concerned about getting sued or something, but that reaction was pretty amazing. XD

  3. Sarah

    I just got done watching 27 dresses. They made a reference to veganism and vegetarianism, my family all found it funny. They were saying that one of the main characters was vegan, but it was too hard/time consuming. So now he just doesnt eat red meat. And the girl lied and said she loooved tofu. Its nice to see more media, but I agree I would rather positive.

    The second clip was awesome. I hope he genuinely cared about the cause and not just the fear of money. I wish they told us if any of the guests were.

  4. vegoftheweek

    Serious professional chefs take truthfulness in ingredients seriously. Gordon Ramsey may want to boil vegetarians in the next pot of meaty stew, but he is professional enough to realize how important it is to respect the customer. It would be wonderful if all chefs have this kind of integrity. I had to stop eating at a place where I asked about the stock and even though the item was labeled vegan, I was told by the chef it had a little bit of chicken stock in it. But I had to ask to find this out!!! And this was a tofu dish!!!

  5. bazu

    I don’t reserve as much vitriol for Ramsay as I do for Bourdain. (Then again, I don’t reserve as much vitriol for Satan as I do for Bourdain! ;-)

    On his show where he saves restaurants, he helped turn around, of all things, a vegetarian restaurant in Paris! He even did some of the cooking! I think vegetarianism is comfortably in his radar, as your clips show. And I too was rooting at the first clip!

    Oh, and let’s not forget Oprah in all of this..!

  6. Marcy

    Ramsey did a whole episode on why horse meat was the tastiest shit ever and why even though it’s not allowed for consumption in the UK, he taught folks to get around by going to France and bringing it back during the show. He also laughed when a vegetarian on his Kitchen Nightmares accidentally ate ham in a cheese layer. I do not like this man, sorry.

  7. Jan

    So what happened!? Now I need to know if the guests were veg or not – and what happened if they were? I’ve gotten sick MANY times from soups and other dishes that claimed to be veg, and turned out not to be. So I can totally emphasize.

  8. Marcy

    oh and FYI on another veg in popular culture issue…on the subject of PETA murdering all of its ‘rescued’ animals (and advocatingg the complete elimination of certain dog breeds and 100% kills for stray/feral cats): I used to be a supporter b/c I knew nothing about this stuff. No more! I just mention this b/c PETA is linked to and even advocated so much on veg*n sites, with no footnote at all about this stuff. (They also believe it’s better to kill an animal than make it a pet, even if a rescue’s involved. I blame a cult-like devotion to that crazy egomaniac, Ingrid Newkirk, who writes about how she’d go to shelter work early jsut to kill as many animals there as she could to ‘help’ them. Eek!)

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