Having been a vegetarian for 50 years, I've tried every variety of fake turkey since they became available. Back in 2006 I bemoaned the loss of a Tofurkey competitor in "Now & Zen Unturkey has flown the coop."
What a Thanksgiving bummer! It looks like this beautiful creature is going extinct. Yes, this could be the last time a much beloved Now & Zen Unturkey graces our vegetarian table.
I had no problem buying this ungobbler a few days ago at LifeSource Natural Foods. But this disturbing page greeted me when I tried to access the Now & Zen web site. And the buzz over at Veggie Boards isn’t encouraging: Now & Zen is no more. Same message here.
Nor is there any cyberspace sign of Green Options, the company that reportedly bought the makers of the Unturkey.
I don’t believe it. In a world where there’s a jillion brands of cereal, how can we be left with only Tofurkey as a vegetarian alternative? The Unturkey kicks Tofurkey’s vegan butt. It’s chewier and has a remarkable crispy skin.
Over on MySpace Veronica isn’t happy about the demise of Now & Zen. Neither am I.
Tomorrow I’m heading to LifeSource to buy another Unturkey or two, if they still have any. I don’t want to have to go, well, cold turkey after we’ve finished eating what’s in the oven.
If there is a vegetarian god, hear my prayer: “Bring back the Unturkey. Quick! Definitely before next Thanksgiving. Put into some vegan entrepreneur’s mind the thought, Now & Zen’s products are too good to be lost. Yours in meatless devotion, Brian.”
Well, there must be a vegetarian god, since even though the Unturkey was never reincarnated, so far as I know, Trader Joe's has produced a meatless turkey that also kicks Tofurkey's vegan butt, for some of the same reasons.
The Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast, like the Unturkey, has a better texture than the overly soft Tofurkey. And I like the breaded crust of the Trader Joe's offering, though it doesn't mimic turkey skin as closely as the Unturkey did.
I bought three Turkey-Less Stuffed Roasts when I saw then in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe's recently. They're a seasonal item, sadly, so I stock up on them while they're available.
One advantage of the Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast is that it doesn't come in the annoying plastic wrapping which "graces" the Tofurkey. I always had trouble getting that wrapping off. Of course, any vegetarian turkey is going to be hugely less time-consuming to prepare than a real turkey.
Last night I preheated our oven to 375 degrees, got out the defrosted Trader Joe's Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast, placed it on a baking pan, draped some aluminum foil over it loosely, and 45 minutes later had a tasty main course for our Thanksgiving dinner.
I did baste it with two tablespoons of olive oil mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika, an option described in the cooking directions for a Stuffed Roast that's cooked with vegetables. My wife and I ate quite a bit of the Stuffed Roast last night, had it again for dinner today, and there's still enough for at least one more meal for the two of us.
I do have a Tofurkey in the freezer that I bought at Salem's LifeSource Natural Foods this month, since I wasn't completely sure that Trader Joe's would carry the Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast again. But they did. I'm leaning toward cooking the Tofurkey when my vegetarian daughter and granddaughter come to visit us in late December.
They'll enjoy it, as will I. However, I'll be thinking, "The Trader Joe's Turkey-Less Stuffed Roast is better."