If it looks like ribs and it tastes like ribs, then it must be ribs, right? Wrong.
A cow and a pig mascot from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were out Tuesday in Washington, D.C.’s Eastern Market neighborhood handing out “meatless ribs” – for those who were brave enough to try it.
“[Was I suspicious] that a pig was giving us free sliders? Yes,” said Rebecca Merral, a publisher from Boston.
The goal? Encourage DC residents to go vegan – that is, not only refrain from eating any meat, but also any animal-based products like milk, cheese or eggs.
PETA’s signature cow and pig mascots have been popping up across the country recently as part of a public relations and ad campaign in other major cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
But when fake barbeque ribs is the product you’re peddling, can you really expect any converts?
Olivia Cockrell and Dorren Bookard were the first two courageous souls to put aside their pre-conceived notions and try the meat substitute.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” said Bookard. “It tastes smoky and flavorful. It has the same texture as meat.”
Ashley Burne, a vegan who has worked with PETA for more than six years, says these reactions are pretty common.
“People who have not tried vegan meat yet can tend to be a little skeptical, and they think it’s not going to taste familiar,” she said. “Then they realize it actually tastes the same. We get a lot of people asking: are you sure this is vegan?”
So after a half hour went by without one negative reaction from someone who tried it, this Midwestern-bred writer was curious enough to give it a shot. The verdict: surprisingly good.
Even Mel Inman, 62, who has been selling poultry at the Eastern Market for 41 years, gave the vegan ribs a try.
“It’s cool, what they’re doing. But I have to say I’m a mainstay person. Animals are made under the dominion of man,” he said. “But for people who have a problem with that, I’d consider this a great alternative. It doesn’t bother me. If I come to your house, I could eat this very easily.”
Like Inman, it didn’t seem like anyone who tried out the plant-based meat substitute was planning any major diet changes.
“It’s good, and I [would go vegan] at some point in my life maybe, but not right now,” said Merral, the Boston-based publisher. “I’ve been eating meat for so long that I don’t have a moral opposition to eating meat. I think I would do it for health reasons.”