Imitation meat products serve a few useful functions. Although some vegetarians avoid them, preferring to explore all of the exciting meat-free cuisines and ingredients from around the world, some people who have gone vegetarian for ethical reasons (rather than health or because of just not liking the taste of meat) find that they miss the tastes they grew up with. Meat substitutes can be a great comfort food, meaning that you can give up the cruelty of meat production without having to miss out on the flavours you are used to. It is also handy when creating meals for unadventurous non-vegetarians who are adamant that every meal should contain something meat-like. You can then knock up a meal that they'll be familiar with. The very good news is that nowadays the quality of meat substitutes are amazing. Some companies make products so realistic that occasionally vegetarians have a hard time eating them!
Linda McCartney foods have done a good job of creating fake meats to entice non-vegetarians to switch, or cut down on meat, for over 20 years; the products can now be found in every supermarket. However, there are plenty of other companies which make even better products, and we hope to feature some of them. One of those companies is Fry's, and you're sure to see their distinctive green packaging in more and more places. One of the great things about them is that all their products are suitable for vegans as well as vegetarians; whereas Linda McCartney foods, and supermarket-brand equivalents, are often not suitable for vegans due to small amounts of unnecessary animal products. Also the Linda McCartney foods brand is owned by a company which also farms meat, whereas smaller, independent companies like Fry's have no connections with killing animals. Quorn is another widely-available brand that is owned by a multinational company and whose products aren't suitable for vegans due to the use of eggs (which were from battery-farmed hens for many years). So Fry's win out: life is simpler when a company's whole range is suitable for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters! You can find out more about Fry's here, and note that in the last Ethical Consumer round-up of fake meat products (2006) they got a really good ethical score - see below.
Some of the Fry's products
Comments on some of the Fry's products
We shared out a selection of Fry's products with a mixture of vegetarians and meat eaters and asked them to send us their comments, what they did with them, photos etc, which we'll paste below. Apologies for the poor quality images, people were generally in a hurry to start eating once the yummy smells were in the air! You can browse the full Fry's range here.
Pepper steak-style pie
Pepper steak-style pies
"I had this with roast potatoes and stir-fried leek and courgette. It had a salty, peppery taste, with lots of sauce around succulent chunks. A chip-shop style pie. You get two in a box. A good alternative to Linda McCartney deep country pies: the Fry's pies had flakier pastry and were flatter, so cooked quicker and didn't leak."
Country mushroom pie with mashed potato and pea/bean mix
Country mushroom pies
"Creamy sauce, tasty filling, the top puffed and browned up perfectly, the bottom needed a bit more cooking - this often happens to pies in my oven (home made or bought frozen!) It didn't affect the enjoyment, it was really nice and savoury."
Cocktail sausage rolls
Cocktail sausage rolls
"A good crusty pastry that cooked well. The small sausage rolls were connected, you're meant to separate them first, but I just treated it as a big one! A tasty savoury sos filling. I forgot to take a pic until the end of the meal!"
Chicken-style strips (two reviews)
"I grilled them until they were crispy, and found myself eating them on own, finger food, they could make a good during-film snack, especially with a dip. I've not tried them in a moist dish yet, but they should be good there too."
"These are by far one of my favourite vegan products. They are so succulent, they can be eaten alone as a snack. They are filling but not bloating and can be used in a variety of ways. I’m not one to follow recipes, usually just throw things together. One of the things I made with this product was a fajita wrap. This was simply by frying (you could bake) the Fry’s Chicken Style strips in a little olive oil, heating a fajita/tortilla wrap, adding lettuce, tomato paste and the strips. I added chilli sauce as I always do and if I’d had it I would have put vegan mayo on too. In any case, this wrap was gorgeous."
"Crisp texture, they cooked well, easier than pastry. Satisfying, filling, good with ketchup."
Pops, with fruit chutney sprinkles
"Different! You microwave them from frozen. As such they don't crisp up but are quick, tasty with the sprinkles, good snacks for during a film in a bowl. A bit like chicken nuggets."
Traditional burgers with chips and green beans
Traditional burgers (2 reviews)
"Good texture, filling, savoury but not too salty."
"Nice with baked beans, wasn't too dry so didn't need sauce, quite meaty." (From a teenager).
Braai flavour country herb sausages
"We really enjoyed these sausages, they had a distinct South African flavour, similar to boerewors (South African sausages), and nice texture."
"We enjoyed them, they were very tasty, with a nice texture and meat-like flavour, and filling!"
"We enjoyed the schnitzels, they were tasty with a good texture, and not too salty. Had them with a vegan-style cooked breakfast, dipped into ketchup."
Polony slicing sausage
"Sliced and eaten cold alone or on sandwiches, or on pizza. Can also be pan-friend or roasted whole, cubed onto kebab sticks, or grated into soup, so really versatile. A bit like Redwood's cheating ham slices, but in a long sausage."
Where to buy Fry's products
Often available in the freezer section of health food shops, which are the best place to buy from. If you shop in supermarkets then ask them to stock Fry's products, make life easy on yourself! Anyway, here's a list of health shops in Wales that should stock the Fry's range. Fry's is also available in any Holland and Barrett that has a freezer, and is available to caterers through 3663 (more stockists listed on the Fry's site).
- Healthcare Shop: 832 Newport Rd, Rumney, Cardiff, S. Glam, CF3 4LH. Tel: 029 2036 1427
- Canton Health Foods: 218 Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff, S. Glam, CF5 1GX. Tel: 029 2039 7983
- Beanfreaks: 3 St Mary St, Cardiff, S. Glam, CF10 1AT. Tel: 029 2025 1671
- Pulse Wholefoods: 171 King’s Rd, Cardiff, S. Glam, CF11 9DE. Tel: 029 2022 5873
- Whitchurch Health Foods: 53c Merthyr Rd, Whitchurch, Cardiff, S. Glam, CF14 1DD. Tel: 029 2061 8716
- Natural Selection Health Foods: 27, Whitcombe St, Aberdare, Mid Glam, CF44 7AU. Tel: (01685) 877066
- Jo’s Organic Stores: 91, Glebe Street, Penarth, S. Glam, CF64 1EE. Tel: 029 2071 1169
- The Source: 26, Cardiff Rd, Caerphilly, Mid Glam, CF83 1JP. Tel: 029 2088 3236
- Chepstow Health Foods: 23a Moor St, Chepstow, Gwent, NP16 5DB. Tel: (01291) 625997
- Wyedean Wholefoods: 113 Monnow St, Monmouth, Gwent, NP25 3EG. Tel: (01600) 715429
- Beanfreaks: 7, Caradoc Rd, Cwmbran, Gwent, NP44 1PP. Tel: (01633) 482507
- Health and Herbs: 5-7 Picton Arcade, Swansea, W. Glam, SA1 3BH. Tel: (01792) 654053
- Granary Healthfoods: Unit 4 Killay Precinct, Killay, Swansea, W. Glam. SA2 7BA. Tel: (01792) 299910
- The Granary: Castleton Walk, Newton Rd, Mumbles, Swansea, W. Glam, SA3 4AX. Tel: (01792) 367791
- Jelfs: 19 The Market, Llanelli, Dyfed, SA15 1YF. Tel: (01554) 757246
- Jelfs: 8 Wind St, Ammanford, Dyfed, SA18 3DN. Tel: (01269) 595703
- Iechyd Da: 11 Broad St, Llandovery, Dyfed, SA20 0AR. Tel: (01550) 720703
- Aardvark Wholefoods: 2 Mansel St, Carmarthen, Dyfed, SA31 1QX. Tel: (01267) 232497
- Riverside Health: 3, Teifi House, Adpar, Newcastle Emlyn, Dyfed, SA38 9EH. Tel: (01239) 711440
- Bwyd Y Byd Wholefoods: 1 Prospect Place, Crymych, Dyfed, SA41 3QQ. Tel: (01239) 831537
- Wholefoods of Newport: East Street, Newport, Dyfed, SA42 0PH. Tel: (01239) 820773
- Go Mango Healthfoods: 4 Black Lion Mews, High St, Cardigan, Dyfed, SA43 1HJ. Tel: (01239) 614727
- The Mulberry Bush: 2 Bridge St, Lampeter, Dyfed, SA48 7HG. Tel: (01570) 423317
- Harvest Stores: 2a St James St, Narbeth, Dyfed, SA67 7DB. Tel: (01834) 861022
- Cracked Wheat Organics (HS): Waterloo House, Long Bridge St, Newtown, Powys, SY16 2BJ.Tel: (01686) 627637
- MacBean Wholefoods: 13 High St, Newtown, Powys, SY16 2NX. Tel: (01686) 627002
- Natural Foods: 17, Great Oak Street, Llanidloes, Powys, SY18 6BU. Tel: (01686) 412306
- Quarry Shop: 27 Maengwyn St, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 8EB. Tel: (01654) 702339
- Cracked Wheat (HS): 19a, High St, Welshpool, Powys SY21 7JP. Tel: (01938) 552556
- Windsor Health Centre (HS): 42 Terrace Rd, Aberystwyth, Dyfed, SY23 2AE Tel: (01970) 636635
- Vans Good Food Shop: Elmswood, Middleton St, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5ET. Tel: (01597) 823074
- Siop Iechyd Health & W’Food Centre (HS): 7 Debigh St, Llanrwst, Gwynedd, LL26 0LL. Tel: (01492) 641669
- Country Kitchen: 10 Sea View Rd, Colwyn Bay, Clywd, LL29 8DG. Tel: (01492) 533329
- Vegonia Wholefoods (HS): 49 High St, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9LR. Tel: (01766) 515195
- Dewis Iach (HS): 18, Penlan Street, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 5DE. Tel: (01758) 701840
- Just Natural: 4, Pool Hill, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 1NP. Tel: (01286) 674748
- Saffron: 48, High Street, Llanberis, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 4EU. Tel: (01286) 871777
- Dimensions Health Store: 15, Holyhead Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2EG. Tel: (01248) 351562