Vegan bacon is widely available, and there are great reasons to choose it over meat-based products.
The Problems with Bacon
Smoky, chewy, and full of flavor, no other meat gets anything close to the hype bestowed upon bacon. Unfortunately, bacon just might be the world’s most terrible food when it comes to health, the environment, and animal cruelty. As a cured meat, bacon is heavily associated with colon cancer. Pig farms are infamous for polluting local waterways. And bacon is commonly sourced from farms that subject their pigs to appalling conditions. Vegan bacon lets you enjoy bacon’s special flavors without the cruelty and the health risks.
While some veggieburgers and vegan sausages taste indistinguishable from their meat counterparts, no vegan bacon product is yet in this league. You can think of today’s offerings as a “generation 1” sort of bacon alternative. They won’t fool anybody, but they will give you the crispy-chewy texture, the fatty mouthfeel, and the fried smokiness that people crave.
You can make a terrific meat-free bacon substitute from scratch in your kitchen, and there are also a half-dozen brands available in groceries and online. So let’s now run through all your options.
Homemade Vegan Bacon
The most popular homemade bacon alternative is based on tempeh. The recipe couldn’t be easier:
- Use a chef’s knife to cut a sheet of tempeh into slices about a half-centimeter thick.
- Soak the slices briefly in some tamari and liquid smoke seasoning.
- Lightly dust with paprika and fry gently in a little oil until each side gains some crispiness.
This basic recipe works great on a BLT sandwich, alongside a tofu scramble, or as a salad topping. And it’s only the beginning of your pig-free bacon options.
Believe it or not, there’s an entire cookbook devoted to vegan bacon: Baconish, by Leinana Two Moons. It’s got every imaginable sort of bacon recipe, with variations made from everything from carrots to eggplant to coconut to chickpeas. And it’s got a fantastic assortment of bacon-oriented breakfasts, sandwiches, and main dishes. Baconish is a must-purchase for any bacon fan who wants to avoid meat.
Vegan Bacon Brands
Every good natural foods store carries at least one variety of vegan bacon, and several more brands are available online. If you’re worried that life without bacon might be tough, rest assured that the vegan world can deliver the goods!
- Bacon Seitan (Upton’s)
- Coconut Bacon (Phoney Baloney)
- Paulette’s Maple Bacon (Louisville Vegan Jerky Company)
- Smart Bacon (LightLife)
- Tempeh Smoky Maple Bacon (Turtle Island Foods)
- Veggie Bacon Bits (Cool Foods)
Also be on the lookout for Beyond Meat Bacon, which is coming to stores and restaurants soon.