If you ask the majority of people, "what's the best way to make almost any meal taste that much better?" they'll probably say bacon.
Bacon makes many people's world go round, and even if you're not a massive fan of this meat, you have to admit that it does add a significant amount of flavor to any meal.
But as delicious as bacon is, it's not the best for us for various reasons. Vegetarian meat options have been popping up everywhere but is substituting your regular bacon for vegetarian bacon worth it?
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Is Vegetarian Bacon Healthy?
Vegetarian bacon is generally healthy! Most vegetarian bacon has healthy fats, a substantial amount of protein, and a healthy dose of fiber. Keep in mind, though, when purchasing vegetarian bacon, not all brands are going to be the same. You may find some brands that have a higher sodium content than others, and too much sodium isn't always the healthiest option.
So, generally speaking, vegetarian bacon is healthy. As with anything, moderation is key and overeating anything, including vegetarian bacon, isn't good for you.
How you prepare anything plays a significant role in how good or bad it is for you too. For example, cooking something "healthy" in a ton of canola oil makes it slightly less healthy.
Why Eating Too Much Bacon is Bad For You
Pork is one of the most consumed types of meat in the world. Bacon, while tasty, is not the healthiest option for you. Overeating processed meats like bacon can cause food-borne illnesses, liver diseases, and maybe even cancer. I'm not saying you need to cut bacon from your diet completely, but switching to vegetarian bacon every so often may be fantastic for your health if you eat bacon a lot.
What Do They Make Vegetarian Meat Out Of?
When companies make vegetarian or vegan meat, they're using a variety of plant proteins and ingredients that resemble real meat. They're striving to create a product that has a similar texture to the meat they're trying to create and making their appearance as close to the real thing as possible.
A lot of vegetarian bacon that you'll find in the store is made from soy products. Soy is a common protein used to create meatless options because it has nutritional value and is entirely vegetarian. Some products will use vegetable proteins and veggies and wheat gluten to help add the texture.
If you're going vegan and interested in meatless meat, be sure to check the labels before purchasing. Not all meatless bacon is vegan. While it's not a meat product, some will have traces of animal products like eggs to bind the product together.
Ways to Make Vegetarian Meat Taste Like Meat
When you're buying premade vegetarian bacon, the companies have likely added several seasonings and ingredients that make the faux bacon taste more like bacon.
But, if you're not 100% satisfied with the flavor of your prepackaged veggie bacon, there are a few ways to make it taste more like traditional bacon. If you're using vegetarian bacon in a dish, adding some seasonings that are also in the dish can help enhance the flavor. Garlic powder, some pork seasoning, or whatever you like can all add something to your faux bacon.
If you're eating vegetarian bacon on its own or as a side to your breakfast, adding some maple syrup can make it feel like you're eating real bacon. Or, if you're willing, adding some liquid smoke when cooking it will really make it taste like a smoky piece of bacon. But keep in mind that if you're using liquid smoke, a little bit goes a very long way.
Some of the Best Vegetarian Bacon Options
Nowadays, there are countless meatless options at grocery stores. If you're interested in trying vegetarian bacon, here are a few of the most delicious options you can choose.
Herbivorous Butcher is a meatless brand that's excelling when it comes to faux bacon. They offer two kinds, hickory smoked and maple glaze. For bacon lovers, you either love your bacon crispy or chewy, and their faux bacon can do both.
Their hickory-smoked bacon is only 90 calories per serving and has 11 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat. Unfortunately, you can't find this brand in most stores, but they will ship to you if you visit their website.
Morning Star is a popular meatless brand that you can find pretty much anywhere. You'll find frozen "bacon" strips that mimic the real thing. There are only 40 calories per serving, and this product is straightforward to prepare. The best part is that there is no cholesterol in the product, making it much better for your heart than regular bacon.
Making Vegetarian Bacon at Home
As with almost everything, when you make something at home, it tends to be healthier for you because you can control exactly what goes into your food. There are countless recipes on the internet that help you make your own veggie bacon. Here are a few of the best ones.
One of the most common ways people make vegetarian bacon at home is by using vital wheat gluten. You'll combine this ingredient with seasonings like garlic and onion powder, paprika, and nutritional yeast. Then you'll add some liquid smoke, maple syrup, and an oil of your choice.
Combining all these ingredients will make a dough in which you can cut "bacon strips" and then cook how you would like regular bacon.
If you love your bacon extra crispy and love hearing that crunch when you bite into it, you need to try this vegetarian bacon recipe. Instead of using vital wheat gluten like many recipes, you'll use rice paper to achieve that crunch.
You'll need many of the same seasonings and ingredients as other veggie bacon recipes like liquid smoke, maple syrup, and the main seasonings, but this recipe also calls for soy sauce. I know it sounds weird, but you'll be hooked once you make it and taste it. The rice paper is thin and makes it crispier than traditional vegetarian bacon recipes.