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Imitation meat

Imitation meat typically refers to any vegetarian food product designed to imitate the flavour and texture of meat. It also refers to meats produced by mincing a low quality protein to form an imitation of a higher quality protein. This process is known as Surimi, although in North America "Surimi" tends to refer to the entire product and only to products made from fish, although the same process is also used with turkey in North America also.

In the United States, the most common technology for producing imitation meats involves textured vegetable protein (TVP), a dry bulk commodity derived from soy.

"Quorn" is the trade name for an mycoprotein-based imitation meat product made from microorganisms. There was controversy relating to its maker's characterisation of this organism as "a relative of the mushroom". Opponents of this description have stated that this microorganism is correctly described as a mold or fungus.

Surimi products in North America are typically marketed as "imitation" foods (imitation crab, imitation shrimp, imitation lobster). Although some companies do market Surimi loaf, burgers, salami, and sausage in North America, typically it is the Asian and European markets that have the most supply of these items.

As of 2003 most Dutch supermarkets sell a wide range of imitation meat products.

Imitation meats have a long history in Chinese Buddhist cuisine. Tofu, tempeh and seitan are sometimes considered imitation meats in the West, though technically they are not as their usefulness as meat substitutess is more incidental than intentional.

Note: The terms synthetic meat and artificial meat are ambiguous, as they may refer to either imitation meat, or laboratory-grown meat.

See also