How to Make Delicious Bacon From Plants

A lot of people say that they’d go vegetarian if it weren’t for one holdout: bacon.

Yes, bacon might be delicious but there is absolutely no reason it has to come from pigs (or any other animal). It isn’t just about animal welfare either.  There are many reasons to ditch bacon, like all of the health risks that it is linked to. Try this formula for a perfect vegan bacon alternative and you will never miss the real thing again.

 

Why Do We Love Bacon Anyway?

Once you know why bacon tastes so good, you’ll see that it is actually pretty easy to replicate it. The reason we love bacon is because it is loaded with fat and salt. Both are things that our bodies are hardwired to love.

As Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss talks about in his book Salt Sugar Fat, we are each born with innate food preferences. We love fatty food because it is a good source of energy. We love salty foods because our body needs salt to survive. Remember, when our food preferences were developed in evolutionary history, salt was hard to come by.

With about 3.3 grams of fat per slice and a whopping 137mg of sodium, it is no wonder that we find bacon irresistible!

The pleasure of the fat and salt is amplified even more by a chemical reaction that occurs when you heat bacon. As this infographic from Compound Chem shows, heat causes sugars in the bacon to react with the amino acids and the fats also liquefy. This results in a full array of flavors and aromas. What it all comes down to is this:

Fat + Salt + Sugar + Amino Acids + Heat = Bacon Deliciousness

 

Replicating Bacon with Plant Foods

When you break it down, bacon is really just a combination of fats, salts, sugars, and amino acids which have been heated. You can easily replicate these components with plant foods. Below are the steps on how to do it.

Step 1: Choose a Base
There are a lot of things you can use for your vegan bacon base. Try to choose something which holds together well and has a “meaty” texture. Some of the best options are eggplant, tofu, tempeh, and portabella mushrooms. You can also use crunchy foods as your base, like carrots or coconut chips.

Step 2: Choose a Fat
As for the fat, the consensus seems to be that coconut oil is best. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, so it replicates the fat from bacon better than oils like sunflower, canola or olive oil. Don’t worry though.  As talked about in this article, coconut oil mostly contains the healthy type of saturated fat called lauric acid.

Step 3: Choose a Sweetener
Maple syrup has a taste that we associate with bacon. You can also use other sweeteners like agave syrup or vegan sugar.

Step 4: Choose Something Salty
Soy sauce, tamari and coconut aminos will all work for giving your meatless bacon the salty taste that our bodies are hardwired to love.

Step 5: Add Vinegar
Vinegar has an acidic taste which, when combined with the other ingredients, helps replicate the taste of bacon. Vinegar also serves to help tenderize your base.

Step 6: Choose Additional Seasonings
To really take your vegan bacon up a notch, add some liquid smoke, paprika, or onion powder. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

 

Eggplant Vegan Bacon Recipe

Remember, the individual ingredients don’t matter so much when making vegan bacon. What does matter is getting them in the right ratio. So here’s a recipe for vegan bacon to get you started.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into ¼ inch strips
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • Pinch of paprika

Instructions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients except the eggplant together in a bowl or Ziploc bag.
  2. Put the eggplant strips in and let them marinade for at least 1 hour.
  3. Put a bit of oil on a griddle and heat to high. Carefully place the marinated eggplant strips on the griddle and let them cook until they have griddle marks.
  4. Flip them and cook the other side.  (You can also cook your “bacon” strips on a grill, fry it, or dehydrate it.)

Vegan Tofu Bacon

This vegan bacon was made with tofu! Photo Credit: hthrd 

 

Vegan Bacon Made From Carrots

And this vegan bacon was made with carrots! Photo Credit:Aquila 

 

Have you tried making vegan bacon?  How did it go?

Related:
25 Vegan Sources of Protein
The Three-Ingredient Recipe for Coconut Bacon
This is How Bacon Causes Cancer

195 comments

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R6 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C9 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Crystal G.
Crystal G11 months ago

Seems like a lot of work for those of us who have to be on-the-go all the time. But just to throw in, ok I'll eat anything.

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federico bortoletto
federico b11 months ago

Grazie del post

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Kellyanne M.
Kellyanne M11 months ago

Sound very complicated to me. I think these people need to revisit "simple" and "easy"

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Tammy D.
Tammy D11 months ago

I think this article is missing the mark. The main reason people love standard bacon is because it is SMOKED. That is what gives it its incredible smell and taste (unless we are talking about just salt cured bacon, which we are clearly not). I haven't eaten meat in more than 25 years, but I still know exactly what bacon tastes like: amazing. So I don't begrudge anyone their affinity for it. I do know that liquid smoke is a fantastic ingredient that can add the same yum factor to plant-based sausages and other things. My favourite sub, though, is sliced mushrooms fried (or baked) until they are bits of dark gold. The taste is so concentrated and amazing, and the texture is super crispy, slightly chewy. YUM. Highly recommend to anyone!

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Jane R.
Jane R11 months ago

Looks tasty. Another way to sneak veggies in a kids diet. These would make a great snack.

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Richelle R.
Richelle R11 months ago

By the way, there are some funky comments on this story. I'm going to try the eggplant one, but not because it tastes like bacon. It just looks like another way to prepare eggplant. And I don't even know what liquid smoke is so will not be using it.

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Richelle R.
Richelle R11 months ago

I never did like bacon or any pork either. Not difficult for me to stop eating it. Stopped eating cows at the same time. Funny thing was I was a teen working at a fast food place. To this day I can't stand the smell of those places floating through the air. But I will experiment with your ideas, especially since I love eggplant! Thank you.

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Gerald L.
Gerald L11 months ago

For those who want to avoid Nitrites pork belly seasoned with garlic powder maybe a dash of Creole Seasoning or Smoked Paprika baked in a toaster oven will understand the stronghold of bacon on the human senses.



Pigs are omnivores and great recyclers of plant matter. The lost tradition of pasturing pigs is being revived. Pig ploughing to uproot tree stumps and eat tender roots is a practical method for a new plot of land for gardening with free fertilization. YouTube has videos of Joel Salatin and many others who are returning to past practices forsaken by Industrial Agriculture.

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