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9 Bacon Substitutes for Vegans & Vegetarians

Bacon substitute
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / piviso

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or simply trying to add more healthy foods into your diet, these bacon substitutes are a delicious place to start.

Bacon is one of the most popular foods in the United States, which is problematic from both a health and environmental point of view. Not only is bacon high in sodium, it also is high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Much of the meat available for purchase in the country is a result of factory farming, which affects the environment and animal welfare. If you’re looking to give up all animal products, or just limit your intake of bacon, check out these bacon substitutes.

1. Mushrooms

You can use a variety of mushrooms as a bacon substitute.
You can use a variety of mushrooms as a bacon substitute. (Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Thanh Soledas )

Mushrooms are a great bacon substitute for burgers, salads, sandwiches and stir-frys. They soak up flavor easily, provide lots of protein and taste great. They’re also fairly inexpensive and easy to find. You can use any type of mushroom you want, but we recommend portobellos, shiitake or king oyster mushrooms. For extra crispiness similar to bacon, dehydrate the mushrooms before seasoning and cooking.

2. Tempeh Bacon

Grab some tempeh and get started on your vegan bacon substitute.
Grab some tempeh and get started on your vegan bacon substitute. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / mochawalk)

Tempeh is a classic vegan meat substitute. Its texture is perfect for a delicious bacon substitute. You can make homemade tempeh yourself or pick some up at your local grocery store. Then slice it into strips and get started on your homemade tempeh bacon.  You can pair your tempeh bacon with pancakes or use it for BLTs, salads, and more.

3. Carrot Bacon

You probably already have all the ingredients for this recipe.
You probably already have all the ingredients for this recipe. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / jackmac34)

Did you know you can make vegan bacon out of carrots? All you have to do is slice the carrots into extremely thin yet wide strips, similar to the size of bacon strips. You may want to use a vegetable peeler for this. Next, prepare a marinade of vegetable oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, liquid smoke and smoked paprika. Place the carrot strips in the marinade for fifteen minutes to an hour. Then, bake them for twenty minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or fry them up on the stove. Baked carrots will be lower in fat because you don’t need extra oil, but frying can get them to a crispier texture. Use your carrot bacon however you please!

4. Zucchini Bacon

Peel your zucchini nice and thin to get the texture similar to bacon.
Peel your zucchini nice and thin to get the texture similar to bacon. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Waldrebell)

Just like carrots, zucchinis can be cut into strips and made into vegan zucchini bacon as well! Simply slice or peel the zucchini into bacon-size strips, as shown above. Soak them for about an hour in a marinade of veggie oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, liquid smoke and smoked paprika. Bake them for ten minutes at 375 degrees, or pop your zucchini in the air fryer to get it nice and crispy.

5. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a versatile vegan bacon substitute.
Chickpeas are a versatile vegan bacon substitute. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / jackmac34)

Chickpeas are a great bacon substitute for salads and pasta. Sprinkle them into a vegan carbonara or add them to the side of your morning pancakes. All you need is some boiled chickpeas. You can buy them precooked and canned, or prepare dried chickpeas yourself. Then, fry the chickpeas in some oil, liquid smoke, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

6. Tofu

Make your own tofu bacon!
Make your own tofu bacon! (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / focusonpc)

While most people prefer tempeh bacon over tofu bacon due to the texture, if prepared correctly, you can make crispy tofu as well. Tofu is also typically easier to find in stores and a bit more affordable than tempeh. It’s also full of health benefits. For homemade tofu bacon, you can use the same marinade from our tempeh bacon recipe. You can make crispy pan fried tofu and use it as a bacon substitute.

7. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are an unexpected vegan bacon substitute.
Sun-dried tomatoes are an unexpected vegan bacon substitute. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / congerdesign)

Sun-dried tomatoes are a great bacon replacement in scrambled eggs, salad, pasta, sandwiches, and soup. While they don’t provide the same texture as bacon, they are rich in flavor, and similarly salty and fatty. They also require no preparation, so they’re an easy substitute everybody can enjoy.

8. Eggplant

Slice up an eggplant and make some vegan bacon.
Slice up an eggplant and make some vegan bacon. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / furbymama)

Eggplant can make a great bacon substitute especially in sandwiches and veggie burgers. You can slice it into circles as shown, or cut it into strips, depending on how you want to use it. Next, microwave the eggplant for five to ten minutes, in order to dehydrate it. While you’re waiting, prepare a marinade of vegetable oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, liquid smoke and smoked paprika. Take the eggplant out of the microwave once it’s a bit shriveled-looking. Marinate the eggplant pieces for about an hour. Then, bake them for thirty minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. For a crispier texture, you can air fry them.

9. Store-Bought Veggie Bacon

Pick up one of these meat alternatives and cook it just like regular bacon!
Pick up one of these meat alternatives and cook it just like regular bacon! (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / alisia_chris_alpinger)

If you’re feeling extra lazy or you just want to try out some other options, there are also store-bought vegetarian bacon substitutes. These can be handy, but they also come with unnecessary packaging waste, and hidden or confusing ingredients. When in doubt, skip the store-bought veggie bacon and use whole foods as a bacon substitute.

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