There are several reasons why vegans might want to eat fake meat (or not to). Let’s check out a few:
Health or environmental reasons
There are many reasons to become vegan. For folks who make the switch for health or environmental reasons, they may still want something that is extremely similar to ‘real’ meat, just with less of a negative impact on their health or the environment. They may still want to eat meat, but are just choosing not to do so for one or more of these reasons, so they’re glad to find something that’s as meaty as possible.
Missing non-vegan foods
Even when people go vegan for animal kindness reasons, they may still miss a particular dish that they used to eat before becoming vegan. Maybe it was a favorite dish from a local restaurant, or a treasured family recipe.
Most people don’t viscerally associate the meat in the dish they’re eating (ground chuck in a lasagna, for example) with its consequences (killing a cow). So it’s certainly possible for someone to have lingering feelings of nostalgia for a dish which exist separately from their current-day awareness of not wanting to cause the harm associated with that choice. Often times when people find themselves in this situation, they’ll choose a ‘realistic’ meat substitute so that they can recreate the dish while still adhering to their values.
Because other people assume that they want to
Some vegans may not be huge fans of ‘fake meat’ (see below), but often times restaurants and hosts assume that fake meat is what vegans want. But just because you see fake meat on the menu, that doesn’t mean that all vegans will (or will want to) order it. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea.
Maybe they don’t eat it!
Some people swear by realistic fake meat products like the Impossible Burger (which even ‘bleeds’), and more power to them. However, it doesn’t float my boat.
First of all, I never thought hamburgers tasted that great anyway, so something that mimics them accurately isn’t very interesting to me. Secondly, I’ve been impressed by what people have done with burgers that aren’t constrained by the traditional meat model, like some super flavorful falafel, sweet potato, or mushroomy creations I’ve eaten. Third, sometimes the packaging of fake meat is made to resemble that of real meat, and while this may help some folks with their transition away from meat, I personally don’t enjoy seeing that, because it reminds me of something that I find really sad.
However, I do eat some fake-meat-type products that I find tasty and that also seem dissimilar enough from the ‘real’ thing that it doesn’t bother me, like vegan jerky. But when something is ‘too close for comfort,’ I can get a little weirded out, even when I’m 100% certain that the item I’m eating is vegan-friendly.