Bacon is simply salt-cured pork, and is one of the most popular foods in England. But most bacon is from factory-farmed pigs, who live miserable lives (labels like Red Tractor only mean the meat is British, and has no welfare clout). If you eat real bacon, then pay extra for free-range organic brands, so at least the pigs have better lives, while alive. Or alternatively, try one of these plant-based brands, which are all pig-friendly and free from cholesterol. You can recycle any packaging at supermarket bag bins. Keep vegan meats away from pets, as they contain unsafe ingredients for animal friends (tofu, mushrooms, onion, garlic etc).
Many people disagree with eating plant-based meats. But if you like the taste, love pigs and have high cholesterol, go for it. Farmers also should be happy, because there is not enough land (or pigs) for everyone to eat free-range in England. So if most of us eat plant-based bacon, that means the die-hards who want to eat the real thing, at least are supporting better welfare. If bacon is not completely off the menu yet, let’s all at least do our bit to get factory-farmed bacon off the menu. And that means eating mostly plant-based (even if not all the time). And that advice comes from non-veggie chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver.
There are around 20 plant-based bacons on sale (and most people are not going to bother making their own from scratch). Some are better than others, so here is our selection of the best!
Plant-Based Bacon from France?
Yep, you read that right. France is having a bit of a vegan revolution over the pond, and this brand is making so many waves, that French farmers have been complaining that it tastes too much like real bacon. La Vie Plant-Based Bacon has now arrived on shelves in England (it’s already sold in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, upmarket health stores and in vegan fast food chains). Made from soy and sunflower, it’s rich in protein and creates 88% less Co2, 82% less water (and uses 74% less soil) than real bacon. It also has 60% less saturated fat than meat, a third less calories and 15 times more fibre.
The sea salt gives ‘bacon-type’ flavour and natural colourings makes it look just like a slice of pork belly (but without the brisket and without the pork). Then it’s smoked over beech wood for that authentic bacon taste. Just fry in a pan to make a BLT or English fry-up breakfast. Or add to a homemade spaghetti Carbonara or quiche Lorraine. Store in the fridge at the correct temperature for no more than a few weeks, and once opened, eat within 24 hours.
Other Places to Buy Good Bacon
VBites Bacon Rashers are made by a homegrown company that is gradually removing palm oil from all its range, and this one is already there. Ideal to chop up into a pizza or in a sandwich, consume within 2 days, once opened. You’ll find this in health shops order online. Or go all Canadian and serve these maple-bacon rashers with your pancakes.
- 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.
- 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.
Make Your Own Plant-Based Bacon
Mushroom Bacon (Crowded Kitchen) is a crispy and smoky alternative to use in sandwiches and salads. Cremini mushrooms provide a meaty texture and rich umami taste, accompanied by liquid smoke.
Or try this Tofu Bacon (Crowded Kitchen) as a high-protein alternative. Again, liquid smoke is the essential ingredient, which is whisked together with tamari, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, salt and pepper – to give that salty/sweet/smoky taste, to resemble meaty bacon.
The Vegan Bakery Company (Sussex) makes a unique smoky meat alternative with parsnip and various spices. Use this to make Facun (!), kebabs, mince, or add to wraps, pasta and pizza.