In the last couple of years, we've seen a huge increase in vegan products popping up on the supermarket shelves. It’s improved to the point where I could walk into any large store and be confident to find some sort of vegan meat or dairy alternative. This has really helped to debunk the old fashioned stereotype that vegans only eat "rabbit food"! Thankfully, that view is now almost completely out the window. In recent months, we've especially noticed more vegan bacon alternatives in the big supermarkets, such as the Plant Pioneers from Sainsburys and Waitrose's Vegan Smoky Streaky Slices. We decided to head out to our local shops and put them to the test, in a bid to find the best shop-bought vegan bacon alternative.
THIS Isn't Bacon Plant-Based Rashers (£3.20 - Holland & Barret)
We were quite excited to try THIS Isn't Bacon Plant-Based Rashers after seeing lots of posts on social media. They did not disappoint! They've got an amazing smoky aroma when cooked, which fills the house with that familiar bacon smell. If that's what you're into then it's great! When fried, it goes lovely and crispy at the edges while staying chewy in the middle. It was super simple to cook too. I didn't worry much about overdoing it since the rashers are quite thick compared to some of the other options. It didn’t 100% look like bacon and the taste itself was slightly lacking in punch, but the smokiness came across nicely. This was our favourite rasher we tried, it tasted great on toast with avocado, but could've done with a tad more seasoning. I'd definitely recommend THIS Isn't bacon and I'd buy it again.
Waitrose Vegan Streaky Slices (£1.99 - Waitrose)
I have to say, I was a little disappointed by the Vegan Streaky Slices from Waitrose, it was really lacking in flavour. To be fair, It did have a great smell whilst cooking, the room filled with a beautifully sweet and smoky aroma. It was also super crispy, so if you’re looking for plant-based bacon with plenty of crunch you’ll probably like these. I know some people love super crispy bacon, but I thought that these strips were too thin, you could easily overcook them and If you let them go too far they’d go super stiff and have no flavour at all. If you're looking for plant-based bacon with plenty of crunch, perhaps you'll prefer Waitrose's Streaky Slices.
Plant Pioneers Smokey Vacon Rashers (£2.00)
We tried Sainsbury's bacon alternative on one of Freya's favourite breakfasts; American style banana pancakes, topped with the vegan bacon, blueberries and maple syrup. The best part about this dish was the pancakes! They did add a nice crunchy texture but unfortunately the Plant Pioneers Smoky Vacon Rashers were totally tasteless. What I also found is that they're almost identical to Waitrose's offering. The only difference I could distinguish between the two is that Sainsbury's Plant Pioneers Smokey Vacon Rashers had less taste and you got two fewer rashers than Waitrose, while it costs a penny more. It's such a shame these weren't better! Whilst it's great these big supermarkets are thinking about new products for the vegan market, sadly we just can't recommend these to you guys! We're hopeful more brands will follow suit and in a few years the market will be flooded with loads more delicious vegan bacon alternatives.
Vivera Veggie Bacon Pieces (£2.50 - Most Supermarkets)
Vivera is a brand that I’ve always been impressed by. I can't think of a time when I've tried their products and been disappointed. We used their veggie kebab style strips in our Vegan Mexican 'Al Pastor' Style Tacos and they were delicious! Out of all the bacon alternatives, Vivera's Veggie Bacon Pieces are easily my favourite. They're full of flavour and have an amazing texture! We thought they were pretty convincing as bacon bits. Last week we used them in our recipe for a roasted butternut squash risotto and they worked perfectly. Although they may be the most expensive in our list, they are also the largest packet. As value for money, they come out on top for me. I would be happy to split this packet into 4 portions and make it last twice as long as the others. I will be definitely be buying Vivera's Veggie Bacon Pieces again.
Waitrose Vegan Streaky Pieces (£1.99 - Waitrose)
What the Waitrose Vegan Streaky Pieces have going for them is their crispiness. Out of all the bacon pieces that we tested these had the best texture for me. Unlike bacon rather, which I prefer softer, I like a super crunchy bacon bit. The only thing that stops me from loving them is, again, the lack of flavour. They smelt lovely whilst cooking, yet similar to their slices, Waitrose's bacon pieces were missing any kind of salty punch. If I were to give these a second go I would try marinading them first to help with flavour.
Plant Pioneers Smokey Vacon Lardons (£2.00 - Sainsbury's)
Sadly for Sainsbury's Plant Pioneers Vacon Lardons, this is very much the same review as with their Vacon Rashers. It's almost the same as the Waitrose product, just not as good. We simply can't recommend them, unfortunately.
We didn’t get around to trying every vegan bacon out there but overall I really enjoyed Vivera and THIS Isn’t Bacon. In general, I thought the bacon bits were tastier than the rashers, yet I think both these vegan bacon alternatives were delicious. The Vivera Bacon Pieces are great in pasta dishes and THIS Isn't Bacon would be delicious on avo toast, pancakes or in a vegan BLT. They’re also a great source of protein and can save tonnes of time in your cooking. I don’t think they’ll ever trick the hard-core bacon-loving meat eater, there’s still a way to go in that department, but for now, there are at least a couple of great options on the market!
What's your favourite vegan dessert from a supermarket? We’d love to hear what you think. Leave us a comment, like, or share this post with your friends.