Bacon is one of those foods with a cult-like following, and many a vegan has heard comments about this food. “How do you live without bacon? I could never live without bacon.” “Nothing tastes as good as bacon.” “ Pigs may be smart, but bacon tastes too good to stop eating.” These comments are usually meant as jokes but highlight a very dark reality. And that is that many pigs lose their lives every year to become bacon on someone’s plate.
Luckily, bacon is not an essential food or hard to give up if one truly wants to. And, in fact, there are a lot of fantastic plant-based options that are actually healthy. We’ve rounded up the best products and the best recipes on the market to help satisfy your cravings for bacon while still living a lifestyle of compassion. It takes just a trip to a health food store or a bit of time at home to whip up a truly delicious alternative to bacon that will make your tastebuds sing and save lives.
Why Eat Vegan Bacon?
Some people don’t understand why anyone would eat a meat substitute. Wouldn’t it just be better to eat what you want, especially if you crave that flavor? Meat alternatives are a great option for those who are health conscious and equally as important for those who simply do not want to take away another living being’s life. Pigs are conscious, feeling and social beings who are capable of experiencing fear and pain. That is why many vegans choose to abstain from eating them (and all animals and their byproducts).
As we shared in our article “From Animals to Health and Everything in Between: 3 Compelling Reasons to Go Vegan”:
“Pigs are well known to be extremely social and intelligent creatures, yet this does not stop them from enduring a hard and cruel life. Mother pigs are kept in very tight crates they can’t turn around in and are kept there practically their whole life whether impregnated or to feed their piglets for a short period of time, although the piglets are not allowed to stay and be close. The mother pig is continually impregnated until she is no longer able to be of monetary use, then she is sent to slaughter.
Pigs that are not for breeding are kept in huge, overcrowded spaces that are extremely stress-inducing. This creates a traumatic experience that causes them to bite each other and sometimes even eat each other. As a preventative, farmers cut off pig’s tails and the tips of their teeth without anesthesia. When pigs are sent to slaughter, they suffer a similar fate to cows. They are supposed to be stunned prior to death, however many are killed alive in scalding hot baths.”
The Best Vegan Bacon Money Can Buy
What It’s Made From: This bacon is made from coconut, organic tamari, grapeseed oil, liquid smoke, maple syrup, and spices.
Why We Love It: This bacon is so good you’ll have a hard time not eating the whole package. We love how crunchy, fatty, smoky and salty it is and can’t resist it as a snack. It’s delicious atop baked potatoes with vegan cheddar cheese or as a topping on a “meat lovers” vegan style pizza.
What It’s Made From: This bacon is made from water, cultured soybeans, cider vinegar and a variety of spices, flavorings and herbs.
Why We Love It: These bacon strips are super flavorful. They can be both juicy and crispy and hit the spot in all the best ways. These hearty strips are mainly whole foods-based too, so you’re getting a hearty dose of nutrients rather than just fat and processed food. We love these served on a plate with toast and a chickpea omelet or on a vegan BLT.
What It’s Made From: This bacon is mainly composed of water, vital wheat gluten, olive oil, red beans and buckwheat groats with a variety of flavors and flavorings as well as spices.
Why We Love It: This vegan bacon is incredibly flavorful and the texture is amazing, thanks to the wheat gluten. While it is a bit more processed, it’s still a relatively healthy alternative to bacon. It is absolutely delicious on sandwiches, particularly breakfast ones.
What It’s Made From: These bacon bits are made from primarily textured soy protein and safflower oil, salt, spices and coloring.
Why We Love It: For anyone who grew up with bacon bits in a plastic sprinkle container, these are for you. They’re chewy and flavorful. While more processed, they are an excellent alternative to the fake ingredients in traditional brands. These are so good on salads, baked potatoes, and in casseroles.
What It’s Made From: This bacon is made primarily from pinto beans, sunflower oil, yeast and salt, spices and flavorings.
Why We Love It: These bacon bits are so delicious and a great option for those who have soy allergies or gluten allergies! We love how tasty they are and while they do come in bits that are delicious atop salad and cookies vegetables, they also have a recipe to make it into a dip, winning serious points for versatility.
What It’s Made From: This bacon is made from textured soy protein, tamari, maple syrup, olive oil and spices.
Why We Love It: While this is technically a jerky, it hits the bacon taste on the head. It’s chewy and soft and while it can be enjoyed straight from the bag, we also love it in wraps with avocado as well as atop salads for a savory and salty taste.
The Best Homemade Vegan Bacon Recipes
These recipes all use very similar formulas, typically a mix of tamari or soy sauce, some oil, maple syrup, liquid smoke and spices to create a bacon flavor. We love that there are so many different recipes using different bases and there is something here for every diet such as carrot and eggplant-based or something a bit more hearty like tempeh or coconut.
Recipe: Yummy Carrot Bacon
Where to Find It: Yumsome
Why We Love It: This carrot bacon is insanely delicious and so easy to make. It’s just a few simple ingredients. Unlike most recipes, has the option to use coconut aminos instead of a soy-based sauce. We love that not only is it easy to make and super healthy, but it’s also a really cheap option so you can make a whole bag of carrots worth and not break the bank.
Brand: Crispy Eggplant Bacon
Where to Find It: Minimalist Baker
Why We Love It: This recipe uses eggplant to make a crispy yet chewy bacon that is pretty healthy and super delicious. The eggplant has a subtle flavor that lends itself well to taking on all the flavors of the spices. This makes it a great bacon replacement that is minimally processed.
Brand: Portobello Mushroom Bacon
Where to Find It: Veganosity
Why We Love It: This bacon is so juicy and flavorful and its true that even non vegans will love it. It’s a great gluten and soy free option and is incredibly healthy. We love this served in wraps or on sandwiches. It’s a must-have staple recipe for weekend brunches and special lunches.
Brand: Vegan Tempeh Bacon
Why We Love It: I Heart Vegetables
Why We Love It: This simple recipe is a great way to make a hearty and filling tempeh bacon. And it has potential to save you a lot of money! We love that it comes together quickly and easily. We find that it can be easily made a little more intense with a dash of chipotle.
Brand: Smoky Maple Tempeh Bacon
Where to Find it: Shane & Simple
Why We Love It: This recipe is so flavorful and delicious you may want to make extra. We love how complex it is with salty, fatty, sweet and savory notes that come together exquisitely with the heartiness of the tempeh. It’s best to make a little extra if you want to use it for a recipe such as a sandwich or wrap since you’ll most likely find yourself devouring it fresh out of the oven right off the tray.
Brand: Coconut Bacon
Where to Find It: Minimalist Baker
Why We Love It: This is one recipe you won’t ever want to lose, its amazing. This coconut bacon is relatively cheap to make and is not just good in recipes, but as a snack! It can be crispy or chewy and the flavors that come together in this sweet and salty bacon make you just want to eat it all in one sitting. This recipe is versatile. And if you have a soy allergy you can certainly use coconut aminos in place of tamari for great results.