A meat analogue, also called a meat alternative, meat substitute, mock meat, faux meat, imitation meat, or (where applicable) vegetarian meat or vegan meat, approximates certain aesthetic qualities (primarily texture, flavor and appearance) and/or chemical characteristics of specific types of meat. Many analogues are soy-based (see: tofu, tempeh) or gluten-based.Generally, meat analogue is understood to mean a food made from non-meats, sometimes without other animal products, such as dairy. The market for meat imitations includes vegetarians, vegans, non-vegetarians seeking to reduce their meat consumption for health or ethical reasons, and people following religious dietary laws in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.Tofu, a popular meat analogue, was invented in the Han dynasty. A document written by Tao Gu (903–970) describes how tofu was called ""small mutton"" and valued as an imitation meat. Meat analogues such as tofu and wheat gluten are associated with Buddhist cuisine in China and other parts of East Asia. In Medieval Europe, meat analogues were popular during Lent, when the consumption of meat from warm-blooded animals is forbidden.Meat analogue may also refer to a meat-based and/or less-expensive alternative to a particular meat product, such as surimi.