Vegan BLT Sandwich (Minimalist Baker).
Bacon is a salt-cured pork that is made by rubbing pig meat with salt and spices, then leaving it to dry, before it’s dried and smoked. Conventional bacon is full of cholesterol. Yet the taste comes from the flavourings, more than the meat. Most homemade plant-based bacons (anything from aubergine to mushrooms) use soy sauce or liquid smoke, then fry or bake for an almost identical taste and texture. So it’s one of the easiest foods to make plant-based, if you know how. All pig-friendly and with zero cholesterol. And the good news if you’re Muslim or Jewish, is that you can eat these vegan bacons too.
These vegan bacons meats taste, smell and look like real meat, so keep them away from pets, as many contain toxic ingredients like soy, mushrooms, garlic and onion. For bought items, recycle packaging with household waste or at supermarket bag recycling bins, and if ordering online, keep ice gel packs away from pets and children.
Although health scare stories abound, bacon really is bad for you. It usually contains nitrates and (in a country famed for loving animals), most bacon comes from factory farms, where pigs live in nightmarish conditions of welfare. Do yourself a favour, and try one of these pig-friendly and zero cholesterol alternatives.
Pigs are amazing creatures. They are brilliant mothers who are very clean (walking up to a mile to go to the toilet away from their nests). They wallow in mud to keep cool (they have no sweat glands) and are as intelligent as a 4-year old child. As well as having 20 grunts and squeals to communicate with each other, the mother pigs sing to their piglets! In many countries, pigs are kept in factory farms, separated by metal grilles, so are unable to move or turn around, or nurse their piglets.
Make Your Own Vegan Bacon
There are a few base ingredients that you can make vegan bacon from. One is shredded coconut (which is flavoured with liquid smoke and maple syrup), although tempeh (an Indonesian wheat-meat) is also popular. Other options are seitan (another wheat-meat) and tofu (which absorbs the tastes of whatever it’s marinated in). This recipe at Minimalist Baker is a good to start you off. The aubergine is marinated in smoky spice, tamari, maple syrup and vegan Worcestershire sauce, then baked at a low temperature.
Seitan Bacon (Loving it Vegan) is made from a Buddhist ‘wheat-meat’, that also looks and tastes like meat.
Tempeh Bacon (Minimalist Baker) is king of the vegan bacons, according to Dana. This is infused with tamari, liquid smoke, black pepper, maple syrup and cayenne for a smoky, salty and sweet flavour. Use the strips for scrambles and sandwiches.
Carrot Bacon Caesar Salad (So Vegan) uses a large carrot to turn into ‘strips’, added to a plant-based creamy salad. Use tamari to make the dish gluten-free.
Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara (So Vegan) uses almonds for the creamy sauce, and mushrooms for the ‘bacon!’
BLT Pasta Salad (So Vegan) uses tofu to make a crispy tangy bacon, in a herb mayo dressing.
A Book of Plant-Based Bacon Recipes
Baconish is a wonderful cookbook by the gorgeously-named chef Leinana Two Moons. Learn how to make all kinds of homemade vegan bacon, then recipes to use it including BLT, Quiche Lorraine, Bacon & Butternut Galette and Bacon Cheeseburgers.
Where to Buy Good Vegan Bacon
Seitans Lot offers crispy vegan rashers. Ideal with a full English breakfast or serve in a roll with palm-oil-free vegan butter and ketchup or brown sauce.
Sgaia Meats Streaky Rashers were developed by two Italians, who live in Scotland. Made from ‘wheat meat’, these are smoky and salty, with a hint of maple sweetness. Perfect for a full English breakfast, BLT or in your favourite burger. Each pack includes 4 large rashers, easily made into 8 smaller ones.
Better Nature Tempeh Bacon Rashers is made with organic tempeh, a rich culture-fused plant-based alternative. Ideal diced in a spaghetti carbonate for a rich savoury fix. A co-founder of this company is from Indonesia, the home of the best tempeh, where it’s a national dish.
Pimp My Salad Coconut Bacon is sold in a jar, made from dehydrated coconut flakes with vegan bacon flavour. Contains vitamins and enzymes, ideal to add to soup, salads, veggies, pasta, rice and noodles. This company was founded by Russians, who (now based in Australia) are changing the way people eat.
The Vurger Co Smoky Bacon Vegan Mayo is made with rapeseed oil. This company runs London’s first vegan fast food chain (also in Brighton). It also offers jars of vegan mayo and cheese sauce. As bank notes contain animal fat, all their branches are cashless.
Terravegane NoBacon is made by an organic company in Berlin, the world’s most vegan-friendly city. This bacon is made from wheat protein.
Inspiration from the Deep South
It’s Big Crunchy Bacony Bits Y’all are not local, but good inspiration on what people are eating abroad. These are over-sized pieces of bacon-tasting goodness that are ready to eat. Packed with protein and fibre, these can be eaten straight from the bag and ideal also to add to pizza, vegan meatloaf, macaroni cheese, vegan meatballs or burgers or hot dogs. You can also add them to a BLT or grilled vegan cheese sandwich. Or add them to your morning grits, if you live in the Deep South. Also good for Tex-Mex dishes (quesadillas, burritos and skillet cornbread), they can also be enjoyed with vegetables and baked potatoes.
Free from the sludgy grease of real bacon, these also have zero cholesterol and are made from a protein-rich base and then flavoured up with tamari, liquid smoke, spices and herbs and beetroot powder (to make it pink!) Vinegar adds the sharp kick found in real bacon, and the ‘bacon’ is naturally sweetened.