Makin’ (Vegan) Bacon for Mom

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Every once and a while, my mom will mention a food that she misses.  To which I inevitably reply, “If you ever want something, just ask!”  Most things are so easy to veganize that it doesn’t really matter what Mom is having a craving for; I can usually turn up a plant-based equivalent.

Recently, it was bacon and, by extension, BLTs.  I have to admit that I was a little grossed out at first, remembering regular bacon with its bizarre combination of textures and inevitable puddles of grease.  But with all the vegan bacon recipes out there, I knew it wouldn’t take long to find something to satisfy Mom’s desire for a BLT.

Vegan Brunch seemed the logical place to start, so I got that out and lo and behold, tempeh bacon!

tempeh bacon

Once I found the recipe, I started to get excited at the prospect of having “bacon” again, too.  I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often.  I just don’t think of it much unless I find it on a restaurant menu or see a vegan BLT at the co-op deli.

In my continuing quest to cut down on added oils, I left the oil out of the tempeh marinade with no ill effects.  I did, however, use a bit to cook the tempeh so that it would crisp up.  Which it would have done, had I cooked it for long enough.  But I didn’t, so it wasn’t quite as crispy as I was hoping.  The marinade was very bacon-like, though!  I’ve found that liquid smoke has an almost scary ability to make vegan dishes taste like meat when the need arises, and it worked well here.

tempeh blt with sweet potato chips and kale

To make sure that the BLT experience would be 100% authentic, I had whipped up the Happy Herbivore Cookbook version of vegan mayo a couple days before.  (Which makes me wonder, why do regular BLTs have super-greasy bacon along with super-fatty mayo?  How did I ever eat that way?) But instead of the fries that I remember eating alongside BLTs as a kid, I went for sweet potato chips straight out of Unprocessed.

It was my first time cooking a veggie in the oven without oil of any kind, and I have to say I was a little bit nervous.  Turns out there was no reason to be.  Aside from a couple of smaller slices that wound up burned, the chips were delicious.  Crispy around the edges with just a little bit of softness near the middle…a perfect texture for sweet potatoes.  I’d love to try the same thing with beets once I can get some at the farmer’s market.  (And, as you can see from the picture, there was kale.  Because kale makes everything awesome.)

So I got to play around with vegan bacon, my mom’s BLT craving was satisfied and we had a really great meal!


About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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  1. Amy  May 17, 2012

    Is there a recipe for this tempeh bacon?!? I’m a new plant eater and I’m not really sure what I miss yet. I think mostly cheese but I feel better than ever!! Your book is on my “veggie to buy” list. 🙂 Thanks!!

    • Sam  May 18, 2012

      Yey, congrats on making the switch! This “bacon” was from Vegan Brunch, but there’s also a recipe in Vegan With a Vengeance (haven’t tried that one yet) and numerous recipes around the Internet. If you’re new to plant-based food, I highly recommend anything by Robin Robertson–Vegan Planet was my first, and 1,000 Vegan Recipes is one of my favorites! I’m also a HUGE fan of Heart Healthy Pizza by Mark Sutton; it’s especially good if you’re transitioning away from cheese. 🙂

  2. Susmitha - Veganosaurus  May 17, 2012

    Such a delicious breakfast! Your mom is lucky to have you making her any vegan goodie she misses. 🙂

    Having been raised vegetarian before turning vegan, mock meats never had an appeal for me. But Tempeh Bacon is one of those things which blew me away the moment I tasted it! It was at tge Sugar Plum Vegan Café at Sacremento. Two years down the line, I still remember the crispy goodness!! 🙂