Bacon Week: Bacon vs. Fake Bacon

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I have several vegan/vegetarian friends. No, really. I do.

Without fail, the thing they tell me they miss the most about the meat-eating lifestyle is one thing: bacon. When people come back to the fold (and by fold, I mean love handles), they invariably head straight for the porcine party, with bacon first on the list. But, these friends of mine, they’re not trendy veg-o-philes, following the latest trends. They’re lifers, and I care for them. I know they’re missing something wonderful, but I want to know they’re satisfied beyond the self-righteous, sleeping peacefully at night level. So I decided to walk a mile in their shoes, and give fake bacon a try. I know. I care too much.

Beeler’s Bacon vs. Fake ‘Smart’ Bacon

I went to Whole Foods at lunch and purchased Smart Bacon , which seems to be a widely available bacon substitute (oxymoron), and a pound of Beeler’s Hickory Smoked, Uncured, Thick-Sliced Bacon.

Bacon vs. Fake Bacon Cooking

Here’s the rundown.

  1. Bacon smells like bacon.
    Fake bacon smells like dog treats (specifically “Beggin’ Strips”)
  2. Bacon separates from other strips easily.
    Fake bacon crumbles into pieces and must be carefully pried apart.
  3. Fake Bacon Texture
  4. Bacon wrinkles as it cooks.
    Fake bacon remains flat.
  5. Bacon looks like bacon.
    Fake bacon looks like pepperoni.
  6. Bacon is made of pigs.
    Fake bacon is made of water, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, soybean oil, textured soy protein concentrate, textured wheat gluten, and less than 2% of natural smoke flavor (uhh, what?), natural flavor (of …?), grill flavor (I hope it was a meatless grill, but then it would be flavorless …), carrageenan, evaporated cane juice, paprika oleoresin (also used in the thriving Hungarian canoe industry), potassium chloride, sesame oil, spice extractives, fermented rice flour (sake!) tapioca dextrin, citric acid and salt. Wow.
  7. Bacon has 9 grams of fat per serving.
    Fake bacon has 2 grams of fat per serving.
  8. Bacon cooks in 10 minutes.
    Fake bacon cooks in 3 – 4 minutes.
  9. Bacon tastes like bacon.
    Fake bacon tastes like a dry, salty sponge.
Dog Eating Fake Bacon

Conclusion: go with real bacon. The Smart Bacon was, frankly, not. A complete waste of $4, as I couldn’t finish more than a tiny bite – it had a weirdly over-processed texture and a single dimension of flavor: salt. But the dog was beggin’ for it.

I went with the real bacon and it was magical.

BLT

6 thoughts on “Bacon Week: Bacon vs. Fake Bacon”

  1. Part time vegematarians (like, er, me) can’t resist bacon b/c bacon = (meat flavor) x 800,000,000. It’s like concentrated essence of meat. Many’s the gardenburger I’ve dressed with bacon.

    People who don’t eat meat because they don’t like it (like Jenny) think bacon is the most repulsive stuff ever. For the same reason.

    I have this whole riff about fake meat and monkeys and the uncanny valley but I’ll spare you. Basically fake meat is pointless and overpriced and not even many vegetablarians eat it. Anyone who has even a passing familiarity knows it’s nothing like meat. Except Quorn. Quorn is weirdly chicken-like. Fake meat is like those plastic nicarette cigarettes: “whoa, you miss smoking that much?

  2. I don’t remember if I found it here, but have you seen Jim Gaffigan’s “Bippity, Boppity, Bacon” routine? If so, sorry for the redundancy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aJ6bTnco00

    Also, head over to The Sneeze dot com for someone who feels almost as strongly about bacon as I do.

    Everything’s better with bacon!

  3. As one of your vegan friends who never misses bacon, I commend you on your willingness to give Smart Bacon (which I love) a try. You are a good friend, but I, in turn, would never reverse such an experiment.

    I will also not be baited into your attempt at engaging me in some debate over animal rights or heart disease. I see right through you, Dave Selden.

    However, I will point out that you missed a great opportunity to use the word “fakon” in this post.

    See you in the cardiac unit or in hell, because you will undoubtedly end up in one or the other;-)

  4. I’ve come to enjoy fake breakfast sausage links and patties but fake bacon is such an abomination. If there was a food science ethics board, they should be investigating.

    That sandwich is beautiful.

  5. Dude, you can’t taste-test a bacon product from a hippie outfit like Lightlife. You gotta go Morningstar farms. not only is the visual illusion far more impressive (fake ribbons of fat striate the strips), but they’ve somehow engineered the product to curl suggestively (if not convincingly). It ain’t bacon, but it’s close enough to satisfy meat-loving vegetarians.

  6. another vote for the morningstar farms. if you like your real bacon crispy, bake the morningstar farms in a toaster oven. it’s freaky.

    (tofu deep fried in bacon drippings is also excellent.)

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