At long last, Trader Joe’s has added turkeyless ground turkey to its roster of meatless “meat” products, and, honestly, I’m kind of excited to try it. Why am I, a non-vegetarian who generally considers herself to be both interesting and also not boring, interested in a ground turkey substitute? Well, because I consider ground turkey a challenge: Can I make tasty food art out of the world’s blandest edible canvas? And this turkeyless ground turkey seems like a slightly more environmentally friendly way to do just that.
So what even is turkeyless ground turkey?
Trader Joe’s has long been a champion of the meatless meat. For years they’ve sold Beef-less Ground Beef, which was introduced to me by a vegan college roommate. It kind of tastes like someone who’s never eaten beef tried to recreate it with non-meat products based purely on someone’s description of what it tastes like. In other words, it’s good (as long as it’s seasoned properly). It’s not as good as Impossible beef (which TJ’s also sells), but it’s good nonetheless. TJ’s also apparently offered Turkeyless Protein Patties before they were discontinued. They also carry meatless versions of popular meat dishes in their freezer aisle, like the new Korean Beefless Bulgogi, Chicken-less Mandarin Orange Morsels, Spicy Porkless Plant-based Pork Rinds, and more.
But Turkeyless Ground is different from TJ’s beefless and chickenless options, because it’s not made of soy protein or a mix of wheat and soy proteins, but rather pea and wheat proteins. It also looks much more turkey-like than beef-like in color, which is good. It’s nice to have some semblance of variety even if the products are, in reality, fairly similar to each other.
While some people seem very excited to experiment with seasonings and have a turkeyless blast, others are more skeptical. One commenter on the @traderjoeslist Instagram post about this product called it, “Dog food. Might as well say Fresh Pet on the label. Turkey is meat. Not peas.” To that I would say, yes but it does say “turkeyless” on the label so…TJ’s was pretty up front about that whole “not containing real meat” thing from the get-go. There are, however, also some pretty valid complaints about it being hard for vegetarians to find gluten-free meat alternatives, and this Turkeyless Ground turkey is not helping that issue by containing gluten. But on the flip side, not every product can be everything to everyone, so I say TJ’s, don’t let the turkeys get you down (just as long as you do have some gluten-free meatless options, gluten-free vegetarians deserve meatless meat too).