Here's the definition of what I consider one of the most idiotic misconception about vegetarian diet: meat substitutes. The idea is that since your diet is lacking meat, you need something to replace it. The most disturbing aspect of the story is that meat substitutes are designed to appear, taste, sometimes even smell like meat.
First obvious point, what makes you think that since I am vegetarian I do want to eat something that tastes like meat? There are many reasons for not eating meat but, whatever is your reason, there is nothing right about eating meat substitutes. Let's consider them in turn.
You do not eat meat because you do not like it.
Then meat substitutes are not for you anyway.
You love animals but being vegetarian is a huge effort for you since you like meat so much.
So why would you want to be constantly remainder of its flavor?
You don't give a fuck about animals but you do not want to get stomach cancer.
Have you ever bother to look at the ingredients in a soy-burger? Yes, those that you easily find in supermarkets and your non-vegetarian friends try to awkwardly feed you at their BBQs. Here's the ingredients listed in one a burger from one of those popular brands:
WATER, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, REDUCED FAT CHEDDAR CHEESE (PASTEURIZED PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SLAT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO (COLOR), VITAMIN A PALMITATE), WHEAT GLUTEN, CORN OIL, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF METHYLCELLULOSE, HYDROLYZED CORN PROTEIN, WHEAT GLUTEN AND SOY PROTEIN, SALT, CARAMEL COLOR, CHEESE POWDER (CHEDDAR CHEESE, [MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES], CREAM, SALT, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, LACTIC ACID), DRIED ONIONS, YEAST EXTRACT, NATURAL FLAVOR (NON-MEAT), SESAME OIL, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, DISODIUM INOSINATE. BROWNED IN CORN OIL. CONTAINS: SOY, MILK, WHEAT, SESAME.
Most of these product's soy and oils (tons of oil) are, of course, from OMG and that's why they are so cheap. They can be very annoying while bragging about their healthy and low-fat-low-calories products.
You are vegetarian to save the environment and thus, the future of the universe.
See list of ingredients above.
You don't give a fuck about the environment, you just want to lose weight.
See list of ingredients above.
The reason behind the whole idea of substitution is that vegetarian diets are considered subtractive diets. Most of the non-vegetarian restaurants embrace the same ideology: either subtraction, substitution or both. Most dishes listed as vegetarian options, are typically lacking many nutrients. Entrees are basically giant portions of side dishes, with no protein except for fatty cheese and if you are lucky, a huge amount of carbohydrates, often deep-fried to compensate the lack of flavors. It seems like you do not eat meat, therefore you get to eat less stuff.
Vegetarian diets do not lack anything, and certainly not flavor or proteing. In fact, many cultures are traditionally, mainly vegetarian (India and Thailand just to mention some but Africans also consume much more vegetables the average), which suggests that one can have a perfectly balanced vegetarian diet, after getting rid of some of the misconceptions around vegetarianism.
Begin with considering wheat gluten and other sources of proteins as real food instead of meat substitutes. Consider them as being real ingredients and try to match other ingredients to enhance their texture and flavor, which is sometimes much more saddle than meat flavor. That does not mean that seitan, for instance, is flavorless. In fact it can be really satisfying if served with the right combination of spices instead of buried in BBQ sauce.