Health experts often propose turkey bacon as a âhealthy optionâ for those who decline to eat pork for either religious or health reasons. Â While this might seem an excellent alternative to the average health-conscious consumer, the question to ask is âWhat does it take to turn a turkey into a pig?âÂ Well, dubious ingredients such as hydrolyzed soy protein, canola oil,Â hydrolyzed corn or wheat gluten, corn syrup, autolyzed yeast extract, ânaturalâ and artificial flavorings and âliquid smoke.â
An even bigger question is âWhat does it take to turn a soybean into a pig?â Â More than you most likely want to know! Â Â Pig out intelligently with Smart BaconÂź — a product advertised as bringing âthat hearty bacon taste into the veggie worldâ — and youâll get the following ingredients:
Water, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, soybean oil, textured soy protein concentrate, textured wheat gluten, less than 2% of: natural smoke flavor, natural flavor (from vegetable sources), grill flavor (from sunflower oil), carrageenan, evaporated cane juice, paprika oleoresin (for flavor and color), potassium chloride, sesame oil, fermented rice flour, tapioca dextrin, citric acid, salt.
Yum, and just the thing for vegans following Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for (Ir)responsible Medicine, who recommends Smart BaconÂź and similar products for those who crave bacon but want to avoid âthe embarrassmentâ associated with consuming such an unhealthy substance.
How does it taste? Â I spat it out though the Smart BaconÂź folks promised, âyou’ll swear you’re back in grandma’s country kitchen (even if she lived in Brooklyn).â
For the âdelicious hearty flavor of smoked bacon with a crispy biteâÂ and â44 percent less fat! — try Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon StripsÂź.Â Â Mavyn McDaniels, a Yahoo Voice reviewer who is eco-conscious, mostly vegan and an avowed fan of Morningstar Farms meat analogue offerings, begged to differ. Â She started out wanting to like the stuff, and even asked âHow bad could the fake stuff be?â
Very bad as it turned out.Â Given the ingredient list, better her taste-testing this than me!
Egg whites, soybean oil withÂ TBHQ for freshness, textured soy protein concentrate, modified corn starch, wheat gluten, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (corn gluten, wheat gluten, soy).Â Contains two percent or less of glycerin, salt, soy protein isolate, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, sugar, natural and artificial flavors from non-meat sources, torula yeast, caramel color, monocalcium phosphate, sodium tripolyphosphate, natural smokeÂ flavor, malic acid, guar gum, yeast extract, locust bean and guar gum, sodium sulfite, carrageenan, red #3, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, niacinamide, iron [ferrous sulfate)], autolyzed yeast extract, nonfat dry milk, yellow #6, vitamin B1 [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin B6 [pyridoxine hydrochloride] vitamin B2 [riboflavin], citric acid, cyanocobalamin.
Hereâs what Ms. McDaniels reports:
âThe fake bacon is worse than you can possibly imagine. First impressions: when you open the packaging, you’re hit by a pretty assertive synthetic aroma, an almost-but-not-quite right recreation of the meaty, smoky bacon smell. This eerie sort of Bacon Uncanny Valley continued into the visual âÂ this fake bacon just looked like unchewed sticks of gum. It made me anxious â some primordial fear inside me clicked on, because the stuff just does not look like food.
âThis product is basically egg whites, soy protein, corn starch, wheat gluten, and vegetable proteinâoh boy!âand then, through the magic of science, it’s turned into this white, malleable strip with pinkish-red grainy texturey stuff applied to the surface. For fun throw in some food coloring, artificial and natural flavorings, stabilizers, and preservatives .Â .Â .
âThe instructions on the packaging read, “Fry over LOW to MEDIUM heat, turning occasionally. DO NOT OVER COOK” â and boy do they mean it. I don’t know what that pinkish-red grainy texturey stuff is, but if you’re not careful, it goes from cooked to burnt in an instant.Â I accidentally burned the hell out of the first batch. To make it even more unappetizing, when cooked, it somehow developed these weird-looking bubbly pimples. When you cook it, it ends up as a dry, thin, crispy cracker.
âHow did it taste? Â I’ll admit: it tastes like bacon. But compared to regular bacon, it’s bad.Â Really, really bad. Not even close. It’s too square, too artificial, too manufactured. This is supposed to be bacon, where the point is meaty, fatty, salty, smoky flavor.
âSome mad scientists in New Jersey have figured out how to synthesize a facsimile of the smell and flavor of bacon using ânaturalâ and âartificialâ flavors.Â It brings to mind the line by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: âYour scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.â Â Â So completely disconnected from the true item, and so repulsive, I couldn’t recommend this product to even my worst vegetarian enemy.â