Bridie Chetwin-Kelly eats her way through Auckland’s vegan venues to find the most realistic looking/feeling/tasting/smelling mock meat.
Chicken nuggets, fish burgers, poutine, hot dogs, schnitzel, meat balls, spag bowl, prawns and cheese burgers. What do all these things have in common? The fact that I as a vegan can eat all of these delicious ‘meaty’ foods and more. To me it seems there’s still a bit of stigma around veganism in the sense that people think we only eat vegetables. Whilst that is absolutely true, we’ve also moved onto bigger and better things and now we make mock meat out of vegetables, soy and wheat. I have kindly done extensive eating research to bring you a definitive list of Auckland’s best mock meat meals.
The Burgerie is at the top of the list because if you take anything away from this delicious vegan bible it’s that this cheap as heck eatery, with its own entire vegan menu, is by AUT at the top of Karangahape Road nestled amongst the booze shops and dairies. It now also features a huge sign saying: ‘Best vegan burger’. You can’t actually go wrong with any of their massive $10 burgers that have nearly every single possible vegetable and meat substitute in them, but I cannot go past the vegan chicky nugs. Consistency of meat, taste of chicken (somehow) and the look is the exact same as any normal chicken one, I am ordering the chips and nuggets right now as I write this.
Taste: 9/10 Carrots
Lord of the Fries
Take a wander further into the depths of Karangahape Road and you have the famous Australian all plant-based fast food chain, Lord of the Fries. It opened two locations here last year and I am pretty sure I have personally kept them in business since. I have tried almost everything on the menu and this particular mock meat stole my heart. At first bite the texture is that of real fish, which is the last meat I ate so can recall, and somehow they have captured the taste that is reminiscent of mackerel. I don’t want to compare it to a McDonald’s Fillet-o-Fish burger, so I won’t, because it is so much better than that. They have really made effort with their batter and flavour and it just makes it so unbelievably meat-like. Considering this is a fast food joint, this entirely vegan burger is well prepared, made and eaten.
Taste: 8/10 Carrots
Steak and Cheese Pie
If you are a vegan in Auckland, I have no doubt you will be as regular visitor to Tart as me. I would pretty much say that every single thing in their heavenly smelling bakery is unbelievably delicious but for the sake of this being about mock meat I am going to tell you why their steak and cheese is the real goods. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the steak and cheese pie is that the meat is chewy, like steak, and then the cheese is creamy, like dairy, except it’s cruelty and cholesterol free. Something I never understand about Tart Bakery is how the pastry is always so buttery and fatty tasting but isn't as bad for you. The pie makes you feel warm and snuggly on a cold winter’s day, happy when you're sad and is what I, as a typically stressed student, need when I am after comfort food to fill my stress void.
Taste: 5/10 Carrots
This is a recent discovery of mine. I don’t feel like the texture is anything like chicken from what I remember but it’s similar to that of something that could almost be meat but slightly chewier. However, this may be my favourite vegan chicken meal I have ever had. I couldn’t place the brand that they use but it comes in long delicious lemongrass strips. The meal is more expensive than the others but includes cool vermicelli, viet slaw, soy sauce and crushed peanuts and is completely worth the extra coin.
Taste: 7/10 carrots
'Big Mac' Cheese Burger
I have tested a lot of burgers across Auckland but Ralph’s ‘Big Mac’ is really up there. The mock McDonald’s beef patty with cheese and ‘Big Mac’ sauce from Ralph’s is so good, I have had friends actually question if it is in fact meat and ask themselves: “Is this better than a Big Mac?” The answer, my friends, is yes; cruelty free fast food is better. The patty is moist, meaty and somehow not fatty feeling. Full disclaimer: this burger is actually made from black beans and rice, but there’s just something so meaty about it.
Taste: 10/10 carrots