Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Vegan Chicken Nugget Reviews Nobody Wanted or Asked For, pt. 1

One question people bring up when complaining about non-meat meats is, "Why don't they just eat real meat if they have to make it look and taste like meat?" as if seasoned ground beef looks and tastes like a cow. Granted, a lot of plant-based meat substitutes have binders and fillers that don't make them particularly good for you, but I'm not going to say the Beyond Famous Star from Carl's Jr. is in any way a health food item. It's more environmentally friendly, sure, but it's still junk food at the end of the day. 

That said, I like chicken nuggets. They are a meat product that is so thoroughly process and reliant on artificial flavoring that I could at least spare some birds lives and carbon emissions and get down on some equally mysterious plant-based varieties. Living in the 21st century has made finding these options pretty easy, and I have been trying a number of them over the last few months when I leave work and feel too lazy to actually cook something or go through a fast food drive-thru. All the plant-based nuggets I've tried look like a chicken nugget, but where do they stand flavor-wise?

Let me share some of what I've found with you:

Gardein Chicken Nuggets

Being a big name in the faux-meat game, I expected a lot from Gardein, but they only got it kind of right with their standard issue nug. The texture was soft, but a little too soft, even after cooking them at the manufacturer's recommended specifications. The breading was inoffensive, like a standard nugget, and the flavor was actually pretty alright, akin with mechanically separated chicken. If you're looking for an easily accessible and relatively cheap nugget to keep in your freezer this would be a good start. 7/10

    Rebellyous Plant Based Nuggets

    The company Rebellyous prides themselves in making products that look and taste like chicken, and they did well to deliver on that with their nuggets. They're soft, but not too soft, and the breading is pretty good. The thing that impressed me was how they managed to accurately recreate the flavor of actual frozen chicken nuggets-- not exactly chicken, but not exactly not chicken. They taste a lot like the kind I used to microwave when I was in high school, so I would get them again if I was looking for a not-meat meaty snack throwback. 8.5/10

    Simulate Nuggs, Spicy

    The packaging is extremely unassuming, but Simulate Nuggs are super good-- especially the spicy variety. The texture is as close to a 1-to-1 as I have found to the real deal, and the breading is crisp and dense like a spicy nugget should be. It actually tastes like chicken, and the spicy kick elevates the experience even more by leaving a little heat behind after each bite. Plus, Simulate also has Dino-shaped Nuggs, so the brand overall gets high marks. I'd easily get them again, not just because they're good as a meatless nugget but because they're a good nugget in general. 9.5/10

    The fact that this is part one of a series speaks to how many plant based options for foods there are and how much I enjoy junk food. I'm kind of surprised there aren't more plant-based nugget options in fast food restaurants besides KFC (which I haven't tried yet since the KFC nearest to me doesn't even have chicken half the time, like how are you going to have a chicken restaurant without chicken? C'mon. Get your shit together.) but I get the feeling that, with faux meat options offered at more places across the country, vegan nuggets will come to a drive-thru near you sometime in the near future. Until then, I'll keep looking at the freezer section and report back with what I discover. 

    Happy snacking!