A taste-test on a carnivore
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
I have been pork-free for around 13 years, and one of the most common questions I receive is “How did you give up bacon?” For myself, I’ve pretty much forgotten the taste of real bacon, so I find this question highly perplexing. But for the carnivores I love, such as my father, I wanted to challenge them to trying some of the various bacon alternatives out there, to find out which is the most satisfying.
Turkey Bacon: This is probably the most common bacon substitute I find on restaurant menus. For vegans or vegetarians it’s not very helpful—it’s purely for the health conscious or religious. My dad didn’t seem particularly thrilled by this alternative either.
“It’s the texture. It’s very chewy and not pleasant. It feels like I’m eating a belt.”
Turkey bacon is very lean, which gives it that unique texture. When cooking turkey bacon, you have to use cooking oil or butter because it doesn’t produce its own fat to fry in. Health wise it’s a good choice, but according to dad it’s just not the same.
Chicken Bacon: Out of the three alternatives that I looked at, this was the hardest one to find. Many grocery stores just don’t sell it, and I have never seen it in a restaurant. Chicken bacon isn’t as lean as turkey bacon, and while cooking it I noticed it fries up very similarly to real bacon. My dad seemed strangely satisfied by this option.
“I like it. It’s not as salty, but it’s crispy like real bacon. I’d eat this.”
Chicken bacon has the same downfalls as turkey bacon, in that it’s no help to vegans or vegetarians, but it’s also no help to the health conscious because it is fatty just like pork bacon. The benefit of chicken bacon is that there is significantly less sodium, and it’s easier to digest for people with Crohn’s disease and other digestive issues. Out of our three options my dad said that this was his favourite.
Vegan Bacon (or Fakon): Out of the three options, this was the one that my father dreaded the most, and the one that I eat the most regularly. It’s widely available at grocery stores and even some vegetarian- or vegan-friendly restaurants. Vegan bacon comes in many varieties, including some organic or all-natural options, but I choose MorningStar Farms Veggie Bacon Strips because I like the taste and they’re affordable. Vegan bacon is like turkey bacon in that it doesn’t produce as much fat as pork or chicken bacon, so butter or cooking oil is necessary to fry it. Usually I use butter for flavour and to add in animal fats from the heavy cream that can be helpful. My dad was a bit mixed on this one.
“It tastes a lot like real bacon. It’s salty and smokey. The texture isn’t the same, but it’s not bad. I would eat it in a sandwich, not sure if I’d eat it by itself.”