In November 2016, before Thanksgiving, I became a pescatarian. I made that decision for multiple reasons:
Eating less meat helps the environment. I am all about doing my eco-friendly part.
I love animals. I actually really respect vegans in the regard of "why do people value a dog's life over a cow's?" Both are animals who are deserving of love, why is it that it's okay to eat a cow or a chicken but not a dog? I'm not saying we should eat dogs, but either eat them all or eat none of them. Valuing one of the lives over the other just justifies your mindset of eating one.
When I eat less meat, I eat less unhealthy food. I have this weird thing where if I eat too much sugary or greasy/oily foods I get sick. When I took out meat, I started eating less unhealthy food. The most unhealthy food for me now is fish and chips. Meat was just a device to let in all the greasy food.
I don't miss poultry or red meat. If anything, I'd miss the fact that restaurants would have buffalo chicken options and not buffalo meatless options. Otherwise, I am fine without meat. I decided to keep fish in my diet because of the nutrients. I eat vegetarian mostly, but I still love sushi and eating fish tacos.
In a recent article in The Guardian, it's stated that "the global food system is the biggest driver of destruction of the natural world, and a shift to predominantly plant-based diets is crucial in halting the damage."
I am proud to state that I eat a predominantly plant-based diet. My father who still eats meat (my mother is also a pescatarian) likes plant-based alternatives and even prefers some of them to the regular meat option (i.e. Impossible Burgers).
I feel so grateful to live in a time where there are so many plant-based alternatives - dairy-free milks and ice cream products, meatless wings and burgers, etc.
Some of my favorite plant-based alternatives (that I've tried so far and in no particular order):
Impossible Burger is made from plant-based ingredients, including soy protein, coconut oil, and potato protein (aka it's gluten-free).
A few years ago, at a restaurant, my mother and I tried an Impossible Burger for the first time. It tasted so good. At the time, they were not selling it in grocery stores. Since then, they've changed the recipe (from wheat to soy protein), started selling in grocery stores, and even have partnered with different fast food chains. They sell their "meat" in a ground beef like form so you can shape it into patties, and we've used it as our "meat" in homemade Crunchwrap Supremes and in Philly cheesesteaks. It even starts off pink and turns grey/brown as it cooks.
Beyond Meat is made from pea protein, rice protein, mung bean protein, canola oil, coconut oil, apple extract, sunflower lecithin, and pomegranate powder.
Apparently, Beyond first started with "chicken" products, though I was introduced to them with their Beyond Burger and Sausages. Personally, I prefer Impossible Burger patties (Beyond Burger has a strong weird smell after it's been cooked that lingers), but in terms of Beyond Meat, I do really like their sausages. Their breakfast sausages and their classic and Hot Italian regular sausages are my favorites. A meal of ours that I definitely favor is a hot dog bun, a classic or Hot Italian Beyond sausage, peppers and onions and some mustard. Beyond is in a lot of restaurants and fast food chains, as well. Taco Bell is my favorite fast food chain (potatoes are coming back on March 11, ya'll!) and they recently announced that they will be adding Beyond Meat options to their menu.
Morningstar Farms makes soy-based meatless meats ranging from veggie burgers to "chicken" nuggets.
My sister (who is actually a meat eater, though her fiancé is a pescatarian) introduced us to this brand. For Christmas 2020, Heather gifted my mother a digital book of recipes they've been enjoying in quarantine. A lot of the recipes had meat substitutes. We've tried the Chik'n patties (previously we've used the Boca "chicken" patties - both good!) in a Buffalo "Chicken" sandwich. The Chik'n Strips have gone in soups such as White Chicken Chili and Chicken Tortilla Soup. The Chik'n Nuggets have been used in a meal of chicken and waffles (and pancakes!). For Superbowl, we will be eating the Buffalo Veggie Wings with ranch. Also, we've eaten the Parmesan Garlic Veggie Wings as parmesan "chicken." My family really likes Morningstar now.
Yves Veggie is a soy-based meatless meat brand offering products ranging from falafel balls to veggie ham to veggie bacon.
My mom and I were trying to search for a different plant-based meat that we could put on sandwiches. We had been using Tofurkey, but I didn't really like that brand. In Whole Foods, we came across Yves. They offered Veggie Ham, Veggie Bologna and Veggie Turkey in our store. We tried the Veggie Ham and became hooked. My dad even really likes this option for his sandwich! They also offer Veggie Pepperoni which is a good option on our pizzas and in our pizza wheels.
I regularly have Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and oatmeal with oat milk. I've tried making my own and couldn't get the consistency right, so I've stuck to what I can buy. I originally had only been consuming Oatly, and still really like that option, though it's only sold at Whole Foods. I shop at a Kroger store for most of the groceries and so I have been consuming Planet Oat more frequently. I feel like these days everyone has a dairy-free milk that is their favorite. Mine, obviously, is oat milk. I even like this option in chai tea lattes that I get from coffee shops (and coffee shops usually use Oatly). If I am to make a smoothie though, I either like a blend of coconut milk and almond milk by Almond Breeze or just straight up almond milk by the same brand.
I've tried a few other brands in terms of meatless meat products, such as Lightlife "bacon." It tasted good, but it was either too soft or too hard for me. I am very open though to trying all of the products out there that have meatless meat. I want to try them all because then I'll know my favorites and feel very "well-versed" in the topic.
It's easy to eat just a plant-based diet and not even put in these meatless meat options, however, I enjoy eating foods that I enjoyed when I ate meat. I loved bourbon chicken, parmesan chicken, buffalo chicken, Taco Bell menu items (once they got rid of potatoes, we started making different Taco Bell menu items at home), etc. Now, I can eat these mains with a meatless option and it feels great.