If you’ve recently given up meat, you’re either missing bacon or you’re wrong. Bacon is an almost universally loved food, but those who choose a vegan or vegetarian diet have had few decent options to satisfy their cravings for this great snack. There are a handful of brands of plant-based bacon, but I’ve never had one that tasted much like the real thing. That is, until I got my hands on a package of Hooray Foods’ awesome plant-based bacon – the best vegan bacon to ever hit my pan.
Much like Impossible foods and Beyond meat, both of which produced imitation beef on site, Awesomer comes as close to real bacon, both in taste and texture, as anything I’ve tried. So what exactly is this fake bacon made of and is it healthier? How much does it cost? And where can you find it?
Here’s everything you need to know about this surprisingly realistic-tasting vegan bacon.
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What is Awesomer Plant-Based Bacon Made From?
The ingredients listed on the Ura package were mostly natural: water, coconut oil, white rice flour, pea starch, tapioca starch, natural flavors, curdlan gum, salt, natural smoke flavor, maple syrup, acacia gum, apple extract , beet juice concentrate, purple sweet potato extract, yeast extract, inactive dry yeast and lemon juice concentrate.
Acacia gum (one of the two ingredients unknown to me) turns out to be a safe and commonly used food emulsifier and source of fiber. The other, curdlan gum, is a seemingly harmless and FDA-approved gelling agent often used in modern plant-based meat substitutes.
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Is Bacon Awesomer Healthy? Or at least healthier?
This is the million dollar question for anyone looking to replace meat with bacon health reasons. When it comes to nutrition and health benefits, the stats aren’t stellar: just 40 calories per slice and zero grams of protein. However, great bacon has about 30% less salt than real bacon and about 1 gram less fat per slice.
It turns out that neither real nor fake bacon will do much to improve your health. But that’s never a bacon claim, is it?
Fake bacon that cooks just like the real thing, only faster
I followed the instructions on the package, which directed me to let the bacon come to room temperature to make it easier to separate. Upon opening the package, I was struck by the waxy texture. The strips had a slight bacon smell and were all stuck together like typical pork bacon. With some careful peeling, the great bacon fell apart and I placed five slices in a non-stick non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Almost immediately it began to sizzle and become translucent with oil and grease. Once again, the fake stuff behaved almost like real bacon. One difference I noticed was that whenever two pieces came into contact they immediately stuck together and it took careful prying to separate them again. If you make several, be sure to leave each strip enough space.
The great bacon seems to set and crisp up within minutes and in about half the time it takes to cook real bacon. I carefully lifted one piece and saw that it was starting to brown on the bottom, so I turned them all over.
A few more minutes on the other side and I had a pan of very crispy bacon that looked eerily similar to the real stuff I was used to.
Nothing tastes like the real thing, but Awesomer Bacon comes damn close
Although the texture was almost exactly like real bacon, the flavor was a little less dead, but still very similar and the best fake bacon substitute I’ve tried. It had sweet and smoky notes of natural smoke flavor and maple syrup. It also had a good balance of salt and fat. The fatty pork flavor was slightly muted compared to the real thing.
How much does Awesomer Bacon cost and where can you buy it?
Unfortunately, this fake bacon doesn’t come cheap. A small 5 oz package retails for about $9.50 at my local stores. By comparison, a 12-ounce package of name-brand bacon is usually less than that.
Awesomer Bacon is carried by a number of national grocery chains, including Wegman’s and Foodland. You can use the bacon locator to find a retailer near you or give it a try Instacart to find local delivery.
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