Review: Vegetarian Snacks for the Carnivore

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I am an unapologetic carnivore, and I plan on remaining that way for the foreseeable future. What, then, am I doing with a half-dozen empty wrappers of health food bars and chips that proudly boast vegetarian credentials?

Several weeks ago, I received a package in the mail from Simply Choices, an oddly-named company who promises that all of their products are low-glycaemic, gluten-free, vegetarian, and kosher. I’m bound by no such dietary restrictions, but I’ll admit that it would be handy to keep that kind of thing in the pantry. We live in the age of severe food allergies, moral dietary preferences, and regular ‘ol picky eaters, and when I entertain a group of people with complicated and sometimes contradictory food needs (i.e., my dearest friends), it would be nice to have something that covers the gamut of dietary requirements.

Simply Choices makes three things (that come in a variety of flavours): whey bars, soy bars, and chips made from something called pea protein. Speaking as a man who just finished slicing five pounds of eye of round into strips that’ll later hit my smoker and become jerky, I didn’t know peas had protein. They probably got the idea from cows.

The whey bars, which are also peanut, nut, and soy free, in addition to Simply Choices’ other rules, are tasty but awkwardly textured. If you’re the kind of guy who keeps track of nutritional math (I’m not making fun, I should really start doing that too), a whey bar contains 150 calories, four grams of sugar, five grams of fibre, and fifteen grams of protein. I suspect I’ll keep them in the pantry for when my younger, allergic-to-peanuts cousins come over.

The soy bars, which are dairy free and vegan, are tasty and much more pleasantly textured, although I’m shocked that I’m voluntarily eating multiple things containing soy. They weigh in at 160 calories, with three grams of sugar, four grams of fibre, and sixteen grams of protein.

The pea protein chips are savoury to the bar’s sweet. They are soy and dairy free, and vegan, and shouldn’t really be called chips. They resemble crackers more than wafer-thin, deep-fried potatoes. That said, they are delicious. They only come in two flavours at the moment (herb garlic and chilli), but I would recommend either. The numbers—140 calories, fifteen grams of protein, and two of sugar—are comforting too, I suppose, but I primarily eat food for flavour.  When my jerky is done, I’ll have it with a side of herb garlic chips, all improbable protein from peas aside.

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