McDonald’s should bring its Tofu McNuggets to the USA

  • By L.V. Anderson Slate
  • Thursday, July 31, 2014 11:58am
  • Life

NEW YORK — McDonald’s Japan has introduced a new product: tofu nuggets. In the wake of the scandalous revelation that a Chinese supplier has been selling McDonald’s expired meat, it’s tempting to see Tofu Shinjo Nuggets as the fast food chain’s attempt to distance itself from animal products until the tempest dies down. The Christian Science Monitor’s headline about the tofu nuggets suggested just that: “Tofu McNuggets? McDonald’s Japan goes vegetarian amid expired meat scare.”

But as it turns out, the tofu nuggets aren’t vegetarian — they contain minced fish along with tofu and vegetables. They are, however, a great idea, expired meat scandal or no expired meat scandal, and one that McDonald’s should import to its home country.

In the West, tofu has gotten a bad rap as a pallid, unconvincing meat substitute. As imitation meat, tofu is pretty worthless: Its soft, gelatinous texture is nothing like that of chicken or beef. As a partner for meat, though, tofu is much more appealing. By combining tofu and fish, McDonald’s Tofu Shinjo Nuggets continue a long East Asian tradition of accessorizing meat with tofu, or vice versa. Chinese dishes like ma po tofu, which combines tofu and pork in a spicy chili sauce, and Japanese dishes like agedashi tofu, which soaks deep-fried tofu in a savory fish broth, don’t try to pass off tofu as faux animal protein — they take advantage of tofu’s absorbency by pairing it with more flavorful ingredients. The popularity of these dishes demonstrates that lots of non-vegetarians like tofu when it’s mixed with meat.

If McDonald’s brings Tofu Shinjo Nuggets to other markets — like, say, the American market — it won’t win over devoted vegetarians, but it could rehabilitate tofu’s image. And once Americans realize that tofu tastes pretty good when mixed with animal products, tofu-and-chicken nuggets — and maybe even tofu-and-beef burgers — might not seem so outlandish. Chicken McNuggets in particular are already so processed that many people might not even notice a difference if McDonald’s started sneaking some tofu into them.

If fast food chains incorporated plant-based protein into their meat dishes, they could significantly reduce the demand for factory-farmed meat, which could in turn reduce industrial meat’s effects on the environment and on animal welfare. McDonald’s doesn’t need to “go vegetarian” to significantly reduce the amount of meat it sells — and Shinjo Tofu Nuggets are a big step in the right direction.

More in Life

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Bustling Dublin offers big-city sights and Irish charm

The dynamic city has a great story to tell, and people who excel at telling it.

How is it that some abused children fare well as adults?

By John Rosemond / Tribune News Service In a letter to the… Continue reading

Daughter’s friend is forbidden from attending social events

Adapted from a recent online discussion. Hi, Carolyn: My daughter, 11, has… Continue reading

Most Read