By Natalie Pan
I have been a pescetarian for several months now, and even as a former meat lover, the transition has been easier than I imagined. However, there has been one craving I have not been able to shake… the chicken nugget.
Luckily, many companies have begun producing plant-based chicken nuggets that are vegan-friendly. Although I still occasionally dream about a McDonald’s ten-piece, I have to admit that these substitutes are amazingly and eerily similar to the real thing.
My sister Leila Pan ’28 is a bit more skeptical about these nuggets. She said, “I tried one, and it tasted similar to meat, but it is much softer, so the texture is interesting.” However, I was excited to learn that I am not the only person who enjoys meatless nuggs. Mr. Brooks Hedstrom, who has been vegan for many years, shared that when it comes to meatless nuggets, “I actually like them, not just tolerate them.” Although he recognizes that “some vegans want to avoid even the semblance of eating meat,” he regularly enjoys meat substitutes, including Impossible nuggets (more on these later) and Beyond Meat Bratwursts. He even prepared a Field Roast Celebration Roast for Thanksgiving, which “came out great!”
The three plant-based nugget brands that I have tried so far are MorningStar, Impossible, and Simulate. Below, I have reviewed each brand based on taste, appearance, environmental impact, and price.
MorningStar Farms Veggie Chik’n Nuggets
Recommended to me by a long-term vegetarian, the Chik’n Nuggets were the first plant-based nuggets I ever tried. Besides the original flavor, these nuggets also come in BBQ, Zesty Ranch, and Sweet Mustard.
Taste: 8/10. You’ll know you are not eating meat, but they still taste amazing.
Appearance: 7/10. Cute and round. Breaded on the outside, brown on the inside.
Environmental Impact: 3/10. I was unable to find exact statistics on MorningStar’s website, but on average, a plant-based nugget is much better for the environment than a chicken nugget.
Price: 9/10. $5 per bag.
Impossible Chicken Nuggets
Impossible is one of the most famous names in the plant-based meat industry, so I had to try their take on chicken nuggets. I was not disappointed!
Taste: 9.5/10. It’s scary how difficult it is to distinguish these nuggets from real chicken.
Appearance: 9/10. Look just like McNuggets with similar four distinct shapes, although their outsides are less crispy.
Environmental Impact: 7/10. According to their website, Impossible Chicken Nuggets “generate 36% less greenhouse gasses, require 48% – 49% less land area in a year, have a 43% – 44% lower water footprint, and generate 47% less aquatic eutrophication” than real chicken nuggets produced in the United States.
Price: 5/10. $11 per bag.
Simulate Spicy Chicken Nuggs
I love McDonald’s Spicy Chicken McNuggets, so when I saw Simulate’s version at the supermarket, I just had to give them a try. Full disclosure: Simulate’s cool name and alluring packaging definitely helped.
Taste: 6/10. They were neither as spicy as I was expecting nor as realistic-tasting as the other brands.
Appearance: 9/10. I thoroughly enjoyed their bright orange color, although my mom was reluctant to let me consume them for this same reason.
Environmental Impact: 5/10. Once again, I was unable to find exact statistics on Simulate’s website, but their lab-engineered nuggets are likely more sustainable than real chicken nuggets.
Price: 8/10. $6 per bag.
I hope this review convinces more Winsor community members to give meatless snacks a try— and not just on Meatless Mondays! If you need an additional incentive, Mr. Brooks Hedstrom pointed out that eating nuggets is a great opportunity to experiment with different sauces. In his wise words: “Mustard with a little agave is good, as is ketchup with a little horseradish. Or vegan mayo with some relish.” So the next time your stomach rumbles for a nostalgic nugget, I encourage you to satiate it with one of these yummy, plant-based options.