Bacon bits serve their purpose well in spicing up an otherwise ordinary recipe. Whether sprinkled on pizza, added on baked potatoes with cheddar cheese and sour cream, or used with roasted yams and sweet onions dressing, it’s rare for one to go wrong with these crispy bits (Yes, they’re that Yum!).
However, not everything that tastes good is esthetic. From their name, bacon bits contain bacon, so they’re not vegan, right? Well, apparently not all of them. There’s more to these delicious toppings than their name. So let’s find out whether there are vegan bacon bits and if you can make your own vegan version of them.
Can Vegans Eat Bacon Bits?
With different brands of bacon bits available on today’s market, both meat-lovers and vegans have an opportunity to find a brand of bacon bits that suits their different palette needs.
That’s because bacon bits-producing companies now make bacon bits that include real meat and others containing no beef, such as the McCormick Bac’n Pieces, the Louisville Vegan Toppings, Frontier Co-op Bac’Uns, etc.
However, it’s essential you know that unless you intend to make your bacon bits at home, store-bought bacon bits have been found to contain a high amount of preservatives which can be harmful to both meat-lovers and vegans alike; which begs the question – what are bacon bits really made of?
To answer this question, we’ll be considering different brands of bacon bits and their ingredients.
Are McCormick Bac’n Pieces Vegan?
Considering the ingredients list of this bacon-bit brand, the answer to the common question “Are McCormick Bacon Bits vegan?” is a big yes! This product contains no bacon at all. Instead, its fake bacon bits are made from soy flour, a rich protein meal made from soybeans.
Aside from soy flour, McCormick Bacon Bits contain caramel colour, salt, canola oil and a list of other ingredients, which are indeed vegan-friendly. However, the ingredients label of the McCormick brand also indicates the inclusion of certain preservative chemicals that can be harmful to their consumer.
The Bac’n pieces are dyed with caramel colourings and Red Dye 40 to give it the bacon caramel colour we know and love.
While Red Dye 40, which is derived from petroleum, isn’t dangerous as it’s one of the nine synthetic colour additives certified by the FDA, the dyes used to provide these bacon bits with their caramel colour are dangerous as they contain high lead, mercury, and arsenic rates.
Are Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits Vegan?
As you can guess from the name, this brand of bacon bits contains real bacon that’s been cured with water, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium phosphates and sodium ascorbate. It also includes some artificial flavours, which are thought to cause unusual behavioural symptoms in children, as they can cause chemical changes in the brain and depletion of minerals, such as zinc.
Moreover, sodium nitrite, one of the sodium additives used in this brand, has been shown to cause fatigue and headaches in those who consume it very often.
Are Hormel Real Bacon Bits Vegan?
The ingredients list of this brand only shows bacon as the only fundamental ingredient. The bacon has been cured with water, sodium nitrate and sodium erythorbate. It also contains sugar, potassium chloride, smoke flavouring, dextrose and brown sugar. The inclusion of real bacon proves that this brand isn’t vegan-friendly.
Also, the fact that the meat is cured with sodium nitrite shows that this bacon bits product is highly processed.
What Are Fake Bacon Bits Made of?
It’s pretty clear that many store-bought bacon bits, whether vegan-friendly or not, are usually highly processed and may contain harmful chemicals and preservatives. So, as a consumer, you want to be careful with how much store-bought bacon bits you consume.
The truth is, rather than opting for store-bought bacon bits, you would be better off making yours at home. Fake bacon bits can be made from textured vegetable protein (TVP) or textured soy protein (TSP), a rich protein meal that’s usually fat-free.
For our vegan friends, we’ve included some vegan bacon bits recipes you can whip up yourself at home, so let’s take a look at them!
TVP/TSP Bacon Bits
- TVP – you can get this from a well-stocked grocery (6 tbsp.)
- Liquid smoke (1 tsp.)
- Maple syrup (2 tbsp.)
- Smoked paprika(2 tsp.)
- Salt (1 tsp.)
- Water (2 tbsp.)
How to Make:
Mix ingredients in a mixing bowl, and it’s ready to use.
Tofu Bacon Bits
- Extra-firm tofu (the low water content of this tofu allows it to crisp nicely, making it the best for this recipe)
- Tamari soy sauce (for dark colouring and salt)
- Maple syrup (for sweetness)
- Smoked salt or regular salt with liquid smoke
- Nutritional yeast
- Smoked paprika
How to Make:
Crumble tofu and mix in other ingredients. Bake for 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F, flipping your bacon bits every 15 minutes till they become crispy brown. Enjoy!
Yum Yet Healthy Bacon Bits!
If you’re a vegan, you’re probably already skeptical about any product that includes bacon in its ingredients label. However, with imitation bacon products like the McCormick Bac’n pieces amongst many others, it is possible to enjoy bacon bits without actually consuming meat.
It is vital to keep in mind, though, whether you’re a meat-lover or a vegan, store-bought bacon bits are usually highly processed and contain chemicals that can be detrimental to human health. That’s why we believe that you can’t go wrong with making your bacon bits at home.
An advantage of making your bacon bits is that you can be sure there are no chemical preservatives present and no nitrates, so there’s little chance of causing harm to your health. Making vegan bacon bits yourself at home is relatively easy and is a healthier choice.