When I was first a vegetarian, I worked at a Mexican restaurant. Being a foolish teenager, I would sometimes eat the delicious fresca beans that were made fresh every day and had a wonderful flavor that I have spent my adult life trying to recreate, but more often I ordered the "veggie meat." The cooks actually called me Veggie Meat as a nick name. The "veggie meat" came in frozen patties that looked and tasted pretty much like McDonald's hash browns. I have seen veggie burgers that still have this look, and I assume the same potato-y taste.
During this time, I dated a guy who was Buddist. I wish I had a picture of this guy and his family, because they look like the typical American family, so when I found out he was a Buddist is was very surprising to say the least. He introduced me to Morning Star Farms and their meaty non-meat. I suddenly realized that fake meat could taste... Well, it tasted meaty, almost to the point of repulsion at times. In college I would devour Morning Star corndogs like they were potato chips and make their hot dogs in my dorm room microwave daily. I didn't really think about sodium consumption or the fat that was in these items. Also, now that I am an expert label reader, I am saddened to see that Morning Star uses milk in most of their products. As does Garden Burger. Milk hasn't been an option for me for a few years when my body suddenly realized I wasn't a cow and started fighting back against my insistence that food for a baby cow was fine for an adult woman.
So now here I am without my go-to meat substitutes and navigating the labels and prices of what to eat and feed my family. Quite frankly, I would rather have quinoa, lentils, or beans than most meat substitutes, but I am having fun trying new things. I will post reviews of the "alternatives" that I try periodically and am open to suggestions as well.