Ditch the Bacon For Good: The 6 Best Vegan Pork Alternatives
You may have seen the headlines this week about an impending national pork shortage. This is because the demand for pork has dried up as food services and restaurants have shuttered. The sad truth is, farmers can’t just turn off their facility or production line and go home; they are dealing with live animals. Many farms are being forced to “destroy” piglets and pigs—and yes, that is exactly what it sounds like—to correct for the oversupply. Times like these bring forward an uncomfortable truth that’s easy to suppress when it's out of sight, out of mind: That bacon on your plate was once a living, breathing, mammal. If you are feeling compelled to make a change—be it for health, environment or ethics—here are a few good reasons to do so:
- Pigs are sentient beings. As Psychology Today explains: “Pigs are extremely interesting animals. They're able to solve challenging problems, they love to play, they display a wide range of emotions, and they have unique individual personalities.”
- Pork products are typically extremely high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Recall processed red meats are classified as class 1 carcinogens for a reason. Research shows that vegetarians are 50% less likely to develop heart disease and they have 40% of the cancer rate of meat-eaters.
- If you’ve convinced yourself pigs are running around in a field playing in puddles of mud with their friends; they’re probably not. Ninety-seven percent of pigs in the United States today are raised in factory farms.
With all that said, now is the perfect time to give up pork and switch to a more green, healthy, and ethical alternative. We’ve rounded up some pork alternatives (all vegan and plant-based) to help wean you off the American meat staple. If you already don’t touch the stuff, good—these are products anyone can enjoy.
1. Upton’s Naturals Bar-B-Que Jackfruit
A great alternative for those looking for simple, plant-based meat-like replacements is Upton’s Naturals, specializing in products made from jackfruit. As they say, it’s not made from plants, it is a plant. For a delight reminiscent of pulled pork, try their Bar-B-Que Jackfruit; it comes ready to use as is or can be cooked as well.
If you are feeling a little more ambitious in the kitchen you can buy canned or fresh jackfruit and whip something up. The texture is perfect to mimic pulled pork and is often used in tacos, sandwiches, burgers (like this pulled 'pork' BBQ sandwich) and more. Check out this taco recipe that uses jackfruit to replace pulled pork.
2. Viana Vegan Snack Sausages
If you are missing your Slim Jim, you can slam into a Viana vegan snack sausage with a clear conscience instead. At first glance this type of meat-like meatless snack might sound strange...but it is delicious, and perfect for our keto snack-seeking friends. Great for on-the-go since you can just peel and eat. It’s made from soy and wheat gluten and packs 15 grams of protein per sausage.
3. Lightlife Smart Bacon
Lower in calories and cholesterol than real bacon, Lightlife is an easy and tasty bacon alternative. Each slice has only 20 calories and virtually no cholesterol. A good use case here would be to stack your Smart Bacon on top of a JUST folded egg and sandwich between a toasted English muffin. Delicious. Let's also acknowledge that Smart Bacon isn't fooling anyone: it doesn't really taste like the real-deal bacon. We will continue to hold our breath for the Beyond Meat vegan bacon they are rumored to be working on.
4. Tofurky Ground Chorizo
The Ground Chorizo crumbs from Tofurky are perfect for a taco night...or really any occasion that calls for a little spice and no-meat chorizo. They are easy and quick to cook and versatile as well. Try as a crumble on your vegan mac & cheese, sprinkle on a salad, throw in a quesadilla...the possibilities are endless.
5. PigOut Pigless PorkRinds
You may have had those crunchy bacony chips or puffs while growing up; now, you can get that same taste minus the meat. PigOut Pigless PorkRinds are made from mushrooms (although you would never know from the taste) and a blend of other good-for-you ingredients. One serving is only 160 calories and just 1 gram of unsaturated fat...and zero cholesterol.
6. Abbot’s Butcher Spanish Smoked Chorizo
Made with pea-protein, Abbot’s Butcher’s smoked chorizo is an impressive replacement that even meat-eaters will love. It comes pre-flavored with tomato, garlic and smoked paprika, for a zesty and bright taste. It’s not overly spicy and very versatile, easy to use in scrambles and burritos, empanadas and enchiladas. A little bit of spiced chorizo never felt so good...both for body and mind.