October 6, 2009
When was a meat-eater, I loved the aroma and the flavor of bacon but almost never ate it because of the high fat content. Now that it’s been over 15 years since I ate anything with a face or parents, I have to admit that I still like the smell of it. I can’t stand the odor of barbecue or any other meat item, but bacon is the exception. I don’t eat it, but I do enjoy smelling it. I’m a little bit ashamed to confess that, but I have to be honest.
I know that lots of vegetarians are disgusted by the meat analog products that some of us eat, because they’re too similar to real meat. I totally understand and appreciate that viewpoint, but soy, wheat and mushroom burgers, patties, etc., don’t personally offend me.
Back to the bacon. I don’t think it’s the pig itself that smells so good; my theory is that it’s the smokiness of the spices. If it’s true that the spice combo creates the aroma, then is there a product out there that would fill the bacon-shaped hole in a vegetarian’s or vegan’s diet? And even if you’re not a veggie, perhaps a bacon-flavor substitute would appeal to you for health reasons because of a lower fat content?
So I proposed a challenge to myself. Try to find a delicious vegan bacon-flavored item. Sounds simple, right? Let’s see!
The first contender is Bacon Salt. I’ve been hearing buzz about it for months and months, but never ordered it. In addition to online availability, you can now buy Bacon Salt in some retail stores. I got my 2 oz jar of the Original Bacon Salt at Kroger for $4.99.
First off, there are lots of ingredients in Bacon Salt. The first is sea salt, then garlic, paprika, onion, and corn syrup. It also contains corn cereal (?), natural hickory smoke flavor, natural butter flavor, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial flavors and some other things that I’m not familiar with. So, my initial reaction is: too much stuff, some of it not good for us.
Secondly, there’s the aroma. Sniffing the jar, I wasn’t bowled over. It smells a little weird and fake-ish, with a mostly smoky odor.
Lastly, how does it taste?
- Tasting it plain out of the jar, it definitely tastes artificial to me. I get the salt, garlic, paprika, onion and a little sweetness, but mostly I taste smoke and not in a great way. Even faux bacon bits taste better alone than this.
- I also tried it sprinkled on some raw almonds that I had sauteed in a little butter for a few minutes. The flavor of the salt was better on the almonds than it was on its own. It reminded me a little of the smoked almonds you can buy in a can, but not as good. The smoke flavor wasn’t offensive on the almonds, but I wasn’t really reminded of bacon either.
- The final taste test on a faux BLT was the most successful for Bacon Salt. I spread a little mayo on some whole grain bread (you could use vegan mayo, of course), and added fresh tomato slices and shredded lettuce. The Bacon Salt was sprinkled fairly generously over the veggies. Dare I say it? It was pretty darn tasty! I almost got a touch of bacon-iness, without any of the odd artificial flavors.
The verdict: 2 stars out of 5 on the Sister Scale. I wouldn’t buy Bacon Salt again because I just don’t think it’s good for me since I try not to eat things I can’t pronounce. It is horrible? Absolutely not. Is it as great as the hype? Nope.
So, the search continues for a great vegan bacon-flavored item. I truly hope you find some value in this challenge, because tomorrow morning I’m going to have salt bags under my eyes like crazy!
Next time…vegan bacon jerky!