Nov 20, 2023 - Food and Drink

Meatless Monday: Faux-turkey taste test

A plate with slices of plant-based roasts.

We tasted them so you don't have to. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Welcome to another Meatless Monday taste test!

This time, we got together and tried all the not-turkey options to hold down the center of your Thanksgiving Day table.

How it worked: We scoured the shelves at Fresh Thyme and Whole Foods, your best bets to find these specialty items.

Best flavor: Field Roast's plant-based "celebration roast"

  • This was the best looking, which matters when it comes to a holiday meal centerpiece.
  • Plus: It comes with a powder that, when added to water and cooked, thickens into a mushroom-based gravy.
  • Yes, but: It was a little tough to cut.
  • 💭 James' thought bubble: This had the best overall taste, probably even more flavor than most real Thanksgiving turkeys.
A table with various plant-based roasts.
Arika's cat Al ate most of the Quorn roast when she wasn't looking, FWIW. Photo: Arika Herron/Axios

Best imitation turkey: Quorn's meatless turkey-style roast

  • This was by far the most unsettling out of the box. It's a pale loaf that cooks inside a plastic film.
  • Yes, but: After cooking, it slices up into very convincing turkey-like pieces. Serve the slices on a platter with gravy and dinner guests would be hard-pressed to spot the difference.
  • 💭 Arika's thought bubble: While I just skip the turkey altogether and go for sides, this would be my pick to take its place.

Best gravy: Whole Foods's 365 brand plant-based roast with gravy

  • This one was divisive, but had the most traditional "stuffing" inside the roast.
  • It had the best gravy, but that wasn't enough to save the mushy, blended vegetable texture.

Best to avoid at all costs: Tofurky's plant-based roast with wild rice stuffing

  • Out of the box, it looks like a softball of fake meat.
  • Once cooked, it develops a hard shell that's a real chore to slice.
  • The flavor is also off to the point of being nearly inedible, making it our least favorite by far.
  • Of note: Tofurky's gravy is sold separately and is also to be avoided.

The bottom line: Plant-based roasts are expensive for their small size (ranging from $10 to $20), take up valuable oven space and need at least an hour to cook.

  • If you feel the need to replace the turkey with a meat-free substitute, there are edible options, but we'd rather save room for an extra slice of pie.

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