Trader Joe’s Meatless Breakfast Patties are not sausages, but they’re not bad. I’ve reviewed Trader Joe’s vegetarian cuisine before, but I find it always puts me in a tricky position seeing as how I’m an unapologetic meat eater. Not only am I content to sit by while the lambs are, literally, led to the slaughter, but I’ll grill their corpses and eat them afterwards. This means that I’m not the target audience for things with names like “meatless breakfast patties”. Nevertheless, Trader Joe’s vegetarian output intrigues me – on both intellectual and gustatorial levels. Intellectually, I’m intrigued by the idea of vegetarians who want their food to look like meat, smell like meat and taste like meat, but find eating actual meat repugnant. Such internal conflict! Gustatorially, I’m curious about how close they can actually get these plant-based simulacra to the real deal.
The taste is close enough to real sausage that you might be fooled if you had to get up early enough. The smokiness and savoriness of roasted pig is somehow magicked into the wheat/soy patty via a variety of artificial flavorings. It’s not an exact match, but it’s close enough that even an inveterate meat eater like myself found it a reasonably pleasant breakfast substitute – closer to enjoyable than to tolerable. The flavor is helped in a big way by the very meaty smell, which is probably the closest match to an actual sausage product. Close your eyes as you cook these up on the skillet and you can loose yourself in the illusion of real pork.
The texture is where things break down, literally. While the taste is admirably close, nothing of the chewiness of real meat is present in the patties. The patties are surprisingly fragile, with a tendency to break in two or crumble while cooking. The skillet approach is particularly prone to disaster. As soon as the patties thaw they need to be flipped with great delicacy – too much handling and they’ll bust up into crumbs.
The microwave proved to be better for the integrity of the patties, but even then – once the cooked patties are removed you’ll notice that they have a tendency to break up under the fork. It’s this fragility that really breaks up the illusion that you’re eating meat. Under the pressure of tooth and tongue the meatless patty gives way immediately without any of the chewiness or resistance of actual meat.
This simply means that, as a meat eater, I have no reason to buy this product. As a hypothetical vegetarian, on the other hand, this is a surprisingly good bit of simulacra. While a more robust texture would be nice, I’m happy to trade chewiness for some pretty realistic flavor. Not unlike using turkey bacon in place of regular bacon, it isn’t exactly the real thing, but it’s close enough to get the job done.
The nutritional profile warrants a quick look as well. While not health food by any means, the meatless breakfast patties have it over on their meaty kin in a big way. 56% of the patties calories come from fat, which sounds like a lot, but is a world of difference from the ~90% fat you’d expect from a good ol’ Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage. Consider as well that each meatless patty only offers a meager 80 calories per patty and 56% fat isn’t all that terrifying. The bigger problem is eating enough of these to make it to lunch.
Would I Recommend These: Yes to vegetarians, no to meat eaters.
Would I Buy Them Again: Not unless my girlfriend joins PETA.
Final Synopsis: Good, for fake sausage.