I'm always so stoked when I find not only a vegan-friendly alternative to a traditional omni favourite, but an isolated-soy-free-vegan-friendly alternative to a traditional omni favourite (what a mouthful).
Generally speaking, meals that feature isolated soy typically do the best job of mimicking non-vegan flavours and textures. Obviously - otherwise no one would bother including such a highly processed item in the typically healthy-oriented vegan foodstuff repertoire.
The further I get from my omnivorous days, the less I care about taste and texture accuracy. When I first went vegan I was pretty much obsessed with creating vegan alternatives to my favourite omni foods, fretting over the thought of living without a certain something for the rest of my life. My desperation ceased quickly, however, because within weeks I recognized that the vegan of the 2000s did not have to live without anything - believe it or not, they even have vegan-friendly faux foie gras these days.
However, the more time I spent as a vegan the more new things I tried, and suddenly all of my "pregan" favourites (the standard North American faire - cheese pizzas, hamburgers and fries, wings) began taking a backseat to my newfound love of curries, grilled eggplants and seitan wingz. There was no more concern about living without (if anything, I was concerned about how many perfectly good mealtimes I wasted on cheeseburgers). As the days/months/years went on there were less and less veggie burgers and mock chicken breasts in my refrigerator. Nowadays it takes some sort of time management emergency or strange craving to get me to head down the vegan convenience aisle at all.
That being said, I still like making vegan versions of down-home style North American favourites. Just as a reminder that I'm not really sacrificing anything and also as a sign to the omnivorous majority that veganism is easier than it is assumed to be.
Sloppy Joes fall in this down-home category. I've been known to make them with TVP (textured vegetable protein aka isolated soy protein) now and again. The TVP gives them that hamburger (ground beef) texture that sloppy joes are famous for, so they get points in that department. However, making them with lentils instead gives the added bonus of being a little easier on your insides.
The recipe for these comes from Veganomicon. They are called Snobby Joes because they know they are better than both meat-based sloppy joes AND TVP-based sloppy joes.
If I was that awesome I would also be that snobby.
Of course the same "meaty" texture isn't there (which is a bonus for me, since I am weirded out by anything that is too meat-like) but that just means that they taste lighter and more flavourful. To me, anyway.
Although not the exact same recipe that I used to make the open-faced style Snobby Joes pictured above, Vegan Dad recently posted his own version of lentil-based sloppy joes that you might want to try your hand at.
There is, however, one particular vegan convenience item I am dying to try (that is actually isolated soy free) - Daiya, a vegan cheese alternative. I've never been big on vegan cheeses, preferring to go without, but the feedback on Daiya has just been so phenomenal that there's no way I can pass up a sample. So if anyone out there works for Daiya, please find your way to a supplier in the Kitchener-Waterloo area!