There are a number of health risks associated with eating meat, which is driving even non-vegans to vegan bacon alternatives.
In the United States, which has the world's 2nd highest meat consumption per capita, the average American consumes 51.3 pounds of pork meat per year, much of this in the form of bacon.
Not only is this cruel for the animals themselves, but the consumption of pork can pose serious human health risks, including foodborne illnesses such as e. coli, trichinosis, and salmonella, as well as hepatitis E.
Added to this, the consumption of pork is being investigated as potentially impacting the risk of suffering from multiple sclerosis. Pork is also linked to degenerative liver conditions such as cirrhosis and cancer.
The meat industry is harming the environment by rearing so many animals for slaughter, and it is easy to see that the consumption of pork is a problem for humans and the environment.
Every year, it becomes harder to understand the continued obsession with bacon or the wider meat industry in general.
If we are ever to see a shift in eating habits, we need to combine education, compassion, and alternatives. With all that in mind, let's look at some of the best plant-based bacon swaps you could make today.
The 11 Best Vegan Bacon Products
First of all, let's address the cruelty-free, the sanctuary-protected elephant in the room.
Why do we even need vegan bacon products in the first place? Why eat a product that is symbolic of animal meat itself?
The truth is that it is hard to sway many people from eating meat because it is a taste they have grown up enjoying. Most humans are taught from birth that eating animals is normal, even necessary for life.
It takes time to prove that alternatives exist that will meet or exceed any nutritional benefits of eating meat. For those who have tasted real bacon, it has a salty, fatty taste that is enjoyable and satisfies a number of cravings at once. It can be served soft, crispy, or completely crumbling.
Creating a vegan alternative that hits as many of those features as possible is a great way to encourage new users to try vegan products. This, in turn, can potentially trigger a lifestyle change, reducing or cutting bacon and other meats out of their diets while also giving vegans a more comprehensive range of meat-free taste alternatives to enjoy.
Let's dive in and find your future favorite vegan bacon alternative.
1. Be Leaf Vegan Bacon
Be Leaf's vegan bacon is one of the all-time great meat-free kinds of bacon. Customers have reported that it is fantastic to partner with a vegan fake egg patty to make the perfect bacon and egg sandwich.
It cooks quickly, and because every piece is the same, you can cook it consistently for the best results. If you are craving the salty bacon-like taste, this may be the product for you. However, it isn't the greatest crispy bacon, as it can become overcooked very easily.
2. The Herbivorous Butcher Maple Glazed Bacon and Hickory Smoked Bacon
The Herbivorous Butcher has two faux bacon offerings. They are both realistically meaty, with a pleasing chewiness. It can also be cooked a touch longer for a crispy result. Perfect for sandwiches, waffles with syrup, or on French toast.
The Hickory Bacon variant is the saltier of the two offerings; the maple syrup grazed version is the sweeter. Residents of Minnesota can pick these up locally. For everyone else, the good news is that they ship.
3. Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon
Sweet Earth has been around a while, and they never disappoint. Reviewers of Benevolent Bacon have been very positive regarding the product's smoky taste, although it may not feel close enough to meat to suit everyone's taste.
For long-term vegans, the sage, garlic, and hickory smoke tastes will probably hit the spot nicely without triggering any unpleasant thoughts of animal flesh. Cook Benevolent Bacon the same way as regular bacon.
4. Prime Roots - Super protein Bacon
Prime Roots uses a fermentation technique and a special ingredient called koji to create a product that closely mimics bacon. Koji is a Japanese fungus that is packed with protein.
The results look, smell, and taste like bacon. It does overcook quickly, which is ideal if you like a crunch to a BLT or if you want to crumble it up and sprinkle it over your salads.
5. The Very Good Butchers Very Good Bacon
The Very Good Butchers are the finest vegan butcher in Canada, even if they do say so themselves. Whether you want bacon for a classic BLT, to top a burger, or whatever else you can conjure up, VGB's Very Good Bacon is well-reviewed, with fans stating that it has a great taste.
If you buy a holiday set, the seasonings that come with it add to the product perfectly.
6. Lightlife Tempeh Smoky Bacon Strips
Lightlife's tempeh bacon alternative is excellent in the pan, fried with a bit of oil. It does go quite crisp by default, so it is ideal for bacon enthusiasts who like that crunch. It isn't recommended for air frying, as the taste doesn't quite hold up, but it's a great substitute when fried with a little olive oil.
For BBQs, serve alongside some grilled peppers and corn for an excellent al fresco meal. Some consumers may not enjoy the slight soy flavor this item has.
7. Upton's Bacon Seitan
Upton's Bacon Seitan makes crispy, smokey vegan bacon that is ideal for sandwiches or salads. Visually, it doesn't resemble the real thing, but it tastes good once cooked up.
If you prefer a slightly softer alternative, just cook it a little less. It will have a bit more chew than crunch. While pleasant to eat, be aware that this is not the closest to bacon in terms of flavor.
8. Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh
Tofurky is perhaps better known for its vegan holiday roasts and sausages, but did you know they produced tempeh products too?
Their smoky maple tempeh bacon has a strong smoky flavor and cooks to a crunch. Perfect as a cruelty-free replacement to bacon if you enjoy those features.
9. Hooray Foods Plant-Based Bacon
Hooray Foods is a new plant-based bacon that has been carefully designed to look, cook, and taste like the real thing. Reviewers are divided, with half finding this to be the closest alternative to bacon they have come across and the other half firmly disagreeing.
The pieces stick together (like real bacon on a hot plate) if they touch while cooking, so be sure to use a large pan to help keep them separate. There is a strong coconut aftertaste to the bacon, so it is particularly good for toppings and salads rather than as the dominant product in your meal.
10. THIS Bacon Lardons
THIS is a UK-based brand that has yet to land on US soil but is sure to do so soon, given its major UK success so far. Its products include hyper-realistic juicy juicy-looking bacon lardons, cocktail sausages, and delicious chicken skewers, as well as their regular vegan bacon products.
The creation of the lardons was inspired by the demand for a product containing more fats and an intense bacon flavor. They are perfect when scattered into carbonaras and salads.
11. Vegan Bacon Bits
Meatless bacon bits have been around for a while, used as a seasoning into salads and other products that call for ground-up small amounts of the super salty crispness of bacon.
However, not all bacon bits are equal. Some brands use a red colorant that is derived from insects, and as such, are not vegan.
One brand that has set itself apart in offering a range of vegan meatless bits is the Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. At this time, they offer bacon bits, taco fiesta bits, pepperoni bits, and even limited-edition flavor runs. Right now, you can pick up a pack of sesame gochujang.
So, there we have it. This delicious range of bacon alternatives has got us headed to the kitchen to prepare a BLT right now.
What do you think of our selections? Have you tried many from this list? What vegan bacon alternatives would you stock in your cupboard?
Let us know in the comments, and of course, let us know if there is anything we should add to any future updates!
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