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: