Plant-based meats are nothing new to Buddhists

For a Food & Wine package on plant-based meat, Taipei-based writer Clarissa Wei highlighted how faux-meat products aren’t so new. Between the 10th and 13th centuries, Buddhist monasteries in dynastic China started experimenting with bean curd to replicate duck, fish, and other animal-based proteins. The goal was to help omnivores transition to vegetarianism. Wei looks at the commonalities between these traditions and the current Western plant-based explosion, as well as significant distinctions (see: no alliums in Buddhist cuisine). One of her sources, the owner of a 25-year-old faux-meat purveyor in NYC’s Chinatown, struggled with how the makers of the Impossible and Beyond products tout themselves as revolutionary and new, when they’re building on centuries-old Asian culinary traditions. Ultimately she lands here: “[It] doesn’t matter who created it, as long as it’s saving animals. We all have the same goals.”

The Counter Stories by our editors.