Alone among the un-sausages we tried, the Field Roast contains no soy; it's wheat-gluten based. Perhaps that made the difference. (I've noticed that, at vegetarian restaurants, I often prefer the chewy, stringy texture of seitan to tofu.) In addition to fennel, we detected garlic and salt and a slight tang, maybe a result of red wine, which comes fourth on the ingredient list right after expeller-pressed safflower oil.
No one could mistake Field Roast's version of Italian sausage for an actual Italian sausage, but it came closest to satisfying my crazy, weird craving to taste what I've forsworn.