Serving Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Princeton & Pine Level since 1973

Leave him out of this experiment in taste

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


While meatless burgers might be fine for some, I just don’t think they’re for me.

I have never been a fan of meat substitutes of any kind, so I did not get excited when several fast food chains began serving what they called a “plant-based” burger, which I assume is a euphemism for what has been known for years as a vegetarian burger.

Before going any further, let me say I am aware this is a free country and everyone has a right to his or her opinion, including what they think about certain foods.

Whenever I tried meat-substitute dishes in the past, I found them to be not as tasty as true meat products. I might even say they tasted what I imagined flavored cardboard would taste like, although that’s just my opinion.

I’ll be the first to admit I have always enjoyed eating meat: beef (steak, hamburger, beef stew, meatloaf, calves’ liver) and pork (picnic ham, country ham, tenderloin, spare ribs, pork roast, pork chops, barbecue, sausage, bacon and hot dogs).

For the sake of argument, we can also include in the true definition of meat this list: fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, scallops, clams, and lobster. And then we have poultry products: chicken, prepared any number of ways, including fried, barbecued, baked, roasted and with pastry; and turkey, especially turkey sandwiches the week after Thanksgiving.

My mother was a great cook, and I remember always looking forward to mealtimes in our house.

While I dearly loved the meat dishes she prepared, truth be known, I liked her vegetable dishes equally as well if not better.

I was never a picky eater in my younger years, and my mother never had to force me to eat anything she prepared, not even the collards, cabbage, squash, okra, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus and other items kids are not supposed to like.

I didn’t learn until I got in first grade that it wasn’t cool to eat any of these items, but I didn’t really care.

This tendency to embrace all foods has remained with me into adulthood, and I don’t foresee things changing a great deal anytime soon.

In addition to the meat items above, whenever I get the chance, if it’s financially feasible, I also eat and enjoy all kinds of fruits and vegetables, including apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, plums, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, grapefruit, tangerines, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, pears, apricots, cantaloupes, lemons, limes, watermelon, olives, nectarines, avocados, pomegranates, figs, coconut, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, pumpkin, pecans, peanuts, almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, walnuts, kidney beans, butter beans, garden peas, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, snow peas, asparagus, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, collards, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, beets, mushrooms, broccoli, okra, rutabaga, radishes, onions, cauliflower, bell peppers and cucumbers.

I enjoy some other exotic varieties as well, but I think you get my point.

Sure, I might like some better than others, but there is not a single item listed here, not one, whether meat, fruit or vegetable, that I do not enjoy, and that is the honest truth.

My purpose in listing them is to request assistance, suggestions or advice from anyone willing to tell me which items I should eliminate from my diet and why.

As for those companies or restaurants that make, sell or serve meat-substitute products, I wish you all the best, but at the same time, please leave me out of the experiment.

Until it becomes illegal to eat meat or people start dying in the streets en masse because they do so, I plan to continue as I have up until now based on the culinary tastes and habits instilled in me by my mother.

If that sounds arrogant on my part, then so be it, but it’s certainly no worse than a spokesman in a TV ad warning and almost scolding me that eating meat is wrong and unhealthy just because someone in a marketing department says so.

Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at kbarnes@johnstoniannews,com.