When Chicken Isn’t Chicken
I saw a story recently on NBC News about Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC, that is, but everyone I know still uses the long version) broadening its meatless chicken beyond a test market in Atlanta.
In the coverage, I couldn’t help noticing the fast-food restaurant’s logo.
Instead of the red hues part of its branding for what seems like millennia, it had turned green.
I suppose that’s a clever way of signaling to plant-based food lovers the chicken chain has “gone green.”
But for me, the color scheme has negative connotations.
Namely, I associate green with decaffeinated coffee, a real misnomer if one ever existed. Coffee without caffeine is the living, breathing definition of “worthless.”
Without caffeine, coffee is a rather bitter, foul beverage with no redeeming qualities.
It reminds me of the time I visited a relative and wondered why—after two cups of coffee—I was still yawning.
After stopping in at a convenience store for another cup, one of them chuckled and admitted, “We use decaf.”
“You could have at least warned me,” I replied.
While I have yet to sample the meatless version of KFC’s chicken, I can claim familiarity with plant-based chicken through an experience a couple months ago.
I am an aficionado of a restaurant that serves fresh-made pita sandwiches. On this visit, I noticed a poster proclaiming the availability of my favorite buffalo chicken pita in a vegan-friendly version.
“Why not?” I thought and ordered one.
The buffalo sauce helped, but there was no denying: this wasn’t chicken.
It was passable at best.
The next time I ate there, I ordered a real buffalo chicken pita.
Love of Chicken
I come by my love of chicken honestly. For two years-plus after double bypass surgery, I followed an all-vegetarian diet.
While it helped me shed some weight and keep it off, after a while problems surfaced.
The worst stemmed from constantly feeling anemic. Symptoms persisted even after my cardiologist lowered the dose of one medication because he thought it might be slowing my heart rate too much.
When that didn’t help, I decided to add chicken and fish back to my diet. Voila! Energy restored.
Having gone through the lifestyle program where I adopted the vegetarian regimen, I am quite familiar with all the pro-environment and health statistics and arguments about the plethora of benefits of a plant-based diet.
Yet, I have also edited a number of health-oriented books written by doctors and other health experts in the past eight years.
In doing so, I came to the conclusion that an all-vegetarian diet is really not the healthiest option.
Granted, limiting one’s intake of red meat is wise. After losing my taste for steak in the lifestyle program, I no longer eat any steak, prime rib, or conventional burger. Grass-fed, organic ground beef is another story.
Now, I realize that plant-based meats are a trend, one that has already touched such familiar venues as McDonald’s and Burger King, and which is likely to continue to grow in popularity.
Despite that fact, there are reasons to be suspicious of any food that is highly-processed and repackaged.
In striving to be health-conscious, meatless food producers are actually imitating the industrial food system attacked by so many vegetarians.
So, while we don’t stop there often, the next time my wife and I face a choice of KFC products, I will go for the real chicken. The kind that helps my feet to keep moving forward.