Pictures and videos of pigs seem to pop up regularly in my facebook feeds, usually with lots of comments containing the words “cute” and “adorable”. If I share such a thing I always preface it with “Anyone who comments ‘Mmmmm Bacon!’ will be unfriended. I’m not joking.” I find it hard to understand why someone would look at pictures of an intelligent, social creature and then sit down and eat one which has been slaughtered, cut into strips, smoked and fried. Somebody actually said to me recently (I’ve heard other people claim it’s happened to them, but I never thought it would happen to me) that if god didn’t want us to eat animals he wouldn’t have made them taste so good. I responded that his daughter would taste like pork, but god probably didn’t want me to cook her up and serve her for dinner. That didn’t go down well. I’m usually very tactful, but just occasionally I say what I think.
Last year the veg#n community here in Ontario shared a lot of feeds featuring Esther the Wonder Pig, and I’d like to introduce you to her. She’s a 650lb house trained happy piggy. Her dads were told she was a 6 month old mini-pig when they got her, and were a little surprised to find out that they were actually living with a 6 week old piglet who was going to keep growing and growing. So they built a sanctuary, stopped eating meat, and Esther became famous. Check her out at http://www.estherthewonderpig.com/
But what are you supposed to do if you like the taste of bacon but no longer want to put a dead pig on your plate? I’m pleased to tell you that there are alternatives out there. Are they bacon? No. But are they better for your health and cruelty free? Yes 🙂 Check out your local supermarket and health / natural food stores for bacony vegan alternatives such as Paradis brand veggie bacon (the best ever!) or Ives veggie bacon strips. You might also find vegan “bacon bits” in packets or jars ready for you to sprinkle on your salads. Coconut bacon (which I personally hate) is available at some natural food stores, and there are various brands of tempeh “bacon” knocking around. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, check the internet for recipes on how to make your own “tofu bacon” strips. But be warned – no matter how much the person posting the recipe insists it “tastes just like the real thing”, it doesn’t. Just ask my omnivorous family members – all the recipes I’ve tried were nice, but there’s no hiding the fact that it tastes like tofu trying to be bacon.
But, to quote Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror, let me show you my favourite obsession. Come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. I see you shiver with antici……
VEGAN BACON GREASE! Yes, you read that correctly! It’s totally vegan, but it’s like bacon fat. Gross! And yet…… it’s wonderful! It’s made from coconut oil with herbs, spices and magic.
It’s more of an aroma than a full-on bacon flavour, but I think I’m in love. I bought my first jar from a natural food store in Ottawa last week, and it’s almost empty. I’ve stirred it into a split pea soup, added it to veggie spag bog, fried mushrooms in it (bacon grease, mushrooms, garlic, parsley…OMG!!!!) and drizzled melted magic onto freshly cooked corn. I’m one happy chef! I’ve stopped short of eating it off the spoon, but I have to admit that I was tempted! Oh who am I kidding? Of course I’ve licked it off a spoon! And – bonus – it’s gluten free so I can feed it to both of my kids when they come for a visit. Not that I’ll have any of this jar left by then – I’ll have to stock up!
If you want a cruelty-free bacon fix check out their website at http://veganmagic.cc/ to see if it’s arrived in a store near you. Those in the U.S and Canada can also get it from veganessentials.com. It has the true aroma of bacon, without the need to kill any cute, intelligent piggies! Does it get any better than this??
Spinach and Mushroom Salad with (or without) Magic Vegan Bacon Grease
If you don’t have any magic bacon grease use olive oil instead. Obviously it’s not the same, but you’ll still have a tasty mega healthy salad, especially if you add some fried faux bacon strips or sprinkle the salad with vegan bacon bits.
- 6 cups baby spinach
- 1 orange, peeled and cut into chunks (grate the rind before peeling the orange – you will need it later!)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp grated orange rind
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 tbsp magic vegan bacon grease OR ¼ cup olive oil
- Toss together the spinach, orange, walnuts and baby spinach.
- In a jar with a lid, shake together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, garlic, orange juice and rind. Pour over the salad and mix well.
- Fry the walnut in the magic grease or olive oil until hot and lightly toasted. Don’t burn them – it only takes a minutes or two. Pour the hot oil over your salad and serve immediately.
I would love to know what vegan bacon alternatives are available wherever you live. I know the brands will vary, and some countries will have a bigger selection than others, but tell me about your favourite non-piggy treats!
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