This post has about as much to do with 6° of Kevin Bacon as my blog name is about Herwig’s tag line claiming, “Where Bacon is an Herb.” They may sound similar but the thoughts originated from different places.
My (NOT) Bacon Rating is a review of three different kinds of vegetarian bacon products, Lightlife Smart Bacon, Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon, and MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bacon Strips.
As with the ground meatless taste test, we chose the 3 different brands and tested them as A, B & C in the order that they are listed above. They are in that order, left to right in each photograph too. Upon visual comparison, I noted that A looked like slabs of lunch meat, B looked like long thin strips of tempeh and C looked like play dough-like strips.
I read the directions for cooking, A and B required at least some oil in a pan but C did not. I cooked them all together with a light spray of oil and set them onto a paper towel afterward to absorb any excess. A and B both absorbed the oil into themselves but C created its own when heated and was the only one that seemed to have a little excess when taken out of the pan.
I noted how their appearance changed after cooking. A browned up a little, B did brown and C changed differently depending on the part white or the reddish part of the strip but over all browned very nicely.
I broke off 4 pieces of all of the strips to be tasted by themselves and noted the textures when I broke them. The first, A, was not really crisp and kind of tough to break its leather-like texture, B was crumbly and a little tender with nothing crisp about it, the variegated colored and textured C was a mix of soft and crisp.
Knowing that Mom isn’t a fan of C, MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bacon Strips, I had 7 taste testers for A, Lightlife Smart Bacon and B, Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon and 4 of us tasted all three products.
A, Lightlife Smart Bacon
On its own most of us agreed that the flavor was slow to come. Amy said it didn’t have much taste, I thought it was tough to chew, Arron thought it was chewy, Jim said he wasn’t tasting much more than salt. Of the 3 taste testers who only tasted this and B, it was Dad’s choice but not Mom nor Tracy. Tracy actually spit it out and looked at me like I was feeding her shoe leather.
The four of us who tasted all of the products also tested them in vegetarian BLTs. This, in my honest opinion, is the acid test for a soy bacon product. In the BLT test, A got about the same kind of reaction as it did on its own. Jim shared he got the “crunch” but no “bacon.” Amy said, “It’s a pretty good LT with a piece of leather.” I agreed that I tasted the lettuce and tomato but no bacon and it was tough. Arron asked, “Can I eat C now?”
B, Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon
My initial reaction to eating this cooked product by itself that it was nice and smoky. Amy thought it was flavorful but not like bacon. Arron said, “That’s tempeh” and Jim thought it didn’t have a good texture for a soy bacon. Jim also pointed out that it tasted a lot like barbeque potato chips. From those who only tasted A & B on their own that day, this was Mom’s favorite. Dad took forever trying to chew it up and he didn’t say much and, although she didn’t spit this one out, Tracy asked, “Why didn’t you bring any of the good stuff?” She was referring to MorningStar strips.
Those of us who also tasted this product in the BLT test really liked the flavor and how it filled out the sandwiches. Sadly, none of us would have called it a BLT. Amy thought it was nice, just not like bacon. Jim said it was a nice smoked tempeh sandwich and I agreed it had a nice flavor. Arron said, “Just don’t call it bacon.”
C, MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bacon Strips
This was the product we were all most familiar with. Jim felt it visually represented bacon better than the other 2 products. Amy felt it was over all more like bacon. Arron said, “I know this one!” I felt that, compared to the 2 others tested, that the taste, texture and look (even with the play dough marbling) was more like bacon. Mom, Dad and Tracy didn’t try this one but I want to mention that it is the product Tracy chose to use in the broccoli salad that very day.
The BLT taste testers were well pleased with this product. I said, “That’s a BLT,” and everyone agreed. Jim liked the texture and the nice crisp bacon-like flavor. Arron said it was “still the best.” I also liked how the product, upon cooking, gave different textures to bite into because of the marbled ingredients. Amy summed up what we all felt about this product in a BLT, “Mmmmmmm.”
It is a little difficult comparing these three products nutritionally. Each of their serving sizes are completely different, each chose to use a different number of strips per serving thus the grams per serving are vastly different.
The size of each strip differs from product to product but I felt that was the best way to compare. I broke down the information (on right) per strip. You can see that the strips of B are twice the size so although at a glance they look to be packed with protein and high in sodium, not the case when you break it out gram per gram. The only thing the tempeh style product is highest in, understandably, is Carbohydrates. B also ends up being lowest in fat but do remember that it and the lower fat product A both recommend oil for cooking – they sucked it up like wicks.
It comes down to what is important to you. If you have reason to use a vegetarian bacon product that has less carbs/fat or are looking for the highest protein per strip, you can do the math. If you are looking for a product that has the flavor and texture of bacon, try to remember that real bacon is no health food and take our recommendation and fry up some MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bacon Strips!
I am always hoping that by tasting new product I will find a new favorite. In both the ground meatless and soy bacon taste tests I have found that the product already regularly use is the one that is still tops. Thanks to my family for tasting and commenting; this was SO much fun! Whatever shall we try next? Requests?
Winner in the soy bacon taste test!
For the follow up to this taste test that pits bacon tempeh to tempeh, check out the Tempeh Bacon Taste Taste
. Will the Maple Kind prevail!?
Want to read about more vegetarian food reviews and taste tests!? Check out my detailed review of vegetarian ground meat substitutes: The Ground Meat(less) to Beat! See which product stood up to the Spaghetti Sauce test and which one aced being tasted on its own!