Right now there’s a nationwide bacon shortage, and the reasons are complicated. For one thing, inflation is on the march, raising the cost of everything, including production, and for another a new anti-confinement law is about to go into effect in California, creating panic among farmers and consumers alike that when the law goes into effect in January, now one will be ready.
However you feel about bacon – won’t touch it, can’t live without it – more and more consumers are seeking meat alternatives that are better for the planet, for animal welfare, and for our own human health, which is why vegan bacon is enjoying a particular moment in the sun. Here, we rounded up three delicious, easy-to-make vegan bacon alternative recipes that taste shockingly similar to the real thing.
This isn’t the first time people have panicked over meat
At the start of the pandemic, meat facilities were forced to shut down, as outbreaks of COVID-19 among their workers (standing close together) tore through plants, and tens of thousands of workers fell ill. Many refused to go back to work. The administration forced plants to reopen – and to avert meat shortages, allowed them to speed up production – which prompted the Humane Society to sue the USDA, which was widely reported. Suddenly Americans were forced to pay attention to where their food came from and the result was that sales of meatless meat surged 35 percent during the pandemic.
Now Bacon is the hottest commodity
Now, as the price of labor has skyrocketed and the supply chain has been interrupted globally, the price of bacon has increased along with everything else. (Producers are being forced to pay employees better wages as an incentive to get them back to work.) Food market analysts predict there’s going to be no decline in this spiraling cost any time soon.
This is a long way of saying that vegan bacon has always had our backs, and now we are enjoying our “faux” bacon with new gusto and appreciation. Try it. You’ll never look for pork bacon again. And ultimately, that’s good for you, the planet, and the hogs.
3 Vegan Bacon Recipes to Make You Want to Give Up Bacon
Here are the three of our most popular meatless bacon recipes made with tempeh, tofu, rice paper, and mushrooms that mimic the taste and texture of the real thing, in a healthier, more sustainable way.
1. Tempeh Bacon by For Love and Lemons
Let’s talk tempeh: Most people shy away from this plant protein because it can be a little intimidating if you’re not used to it. But, the grainy, seedy, absorbent texture mimics bacon perfectly when it’s seasoned correctly. Tempeh is a good source of protein and fiber with 31 grams of protein and 18 grams of fiber per cup, Just be careful when eating this soy-based protein if you’re allergic.
In this recipe, you’ll season thin, steamed strips of tempeh and coat it in a flavorful marinade of tamari or soy, rice vinegar, maple syrup, olive oil, and smoked paprika. The tempeh soaks in the marinade for 30 minutes and takes only minutes to cook until charred. Tempeh bacon tastes delicious on its own and also tastes great when broken into bits and enjoyed on a wedge salad.
For this tempeh bacon recipe visit For Love and Lemons’ website, and to your surprise, you’ll find more bacon recipes using coconut flakes and mushrooms.
2. Tofu Bacon by Chef Gordon Ramsay
Now if there’s one way to really trick your carnivore friend into eating ‘real bacon’ that’s actually vegan, this is the recipe. This tofu-based bacon made by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay takes vegan meat alternatives to another level, and the picture shows how spot-on this recipe is.
In a TikTok video, Ramsay demonstrated the three-step ‘bacon’ recipe: Begin by whisking the marinade (nutritional yeast, paprika, cayenne pepper, granulated garlic, maple syrup, sriracha, vegan butter, and soy sauce), then dip the crumbled tofu in the bowl containing this mixture. Next, Ramsay cuts strips of rice paper and soaks them in the marinate, and lays the strips on a baking pan, sandwiching the crumbled tofu with two pieces of rice paper. The ‘bacon’ is baked until crisp and enjoyed by the famous chef who shocked us with a meatless recipe. Thank you, Gordon!
3. Mushroom Bacon by Serious Eats
Nowadays, mushrooms are the base of most meat alternatives because they’re versatile, absorbent, and have a durable texture. Not to mention, they are rich in antioxidants and minerals our bodies need to maintain healthy immunity.
In this bacon recipe, we cut King Oyster mushrooms lengthwise and season them with oil, pepper, maple syrup, sugar, garlic powder, paprika, and applewood. King Oysters are unique because they’re flat and when sliced thin, they look just like bacon. They also hold flavor and maintain a meaty texture well – one of the many reasons to love fungi.
For this mushroom bacon recipe by Serious Eats, check out their website.