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11 Types of Bacon Not Made from Pigs

11 Types of Bacon Not Made from Pigs

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From tempeh to venison, there are plenty of ways to get your bacon fix

Lamb bacon is quickly becoming very popular.

In the long and storied history of bacon, at no point has it enjoyed such a moment in the sun as it is right now. One of the most popular foods in existence, cured and smoked pork belly seems to be everywhere you turn. But there are plenty of other varieties of bacon out there, made from other animals as well as vegetable-based proteins and even one fruit that might surprise you. We’ve rounded up 11 types of bacon that are completely pig-free.

11 Types of Bacon Not Made from Pigs (Slideshow)

Until relatively recently, bacon was simply an unhealthy breakfast meat that was typically served alongside a hearty Sunday breakfast. Sure, it might show up in a quiche, club sandwich or Cobb salad, but even those are relatively recent inventions. Then one day some evil genius decided to add a couple slices to a cheeseburger, and Pandora’s box was officially opened. Today, bacon shows up in everything from macaroni and cheese to ice cream, from pizza to donut burgers, and honestly, it’s gotten a little out of hand. As a meme, bacon is so overblown that people are simply getting exhausted of it, and topping something with bacon is anything but outrageous these days.

But lost within all the pandemonium is that fact that protein that’s been cured and smoked is astoundingly delicious, and that doesn’t just apply to pork belly. There are plenty of reasons why you might opt to eat non-pork bacon: religious dietary restrictions, a vegetarian lifestyle, etc., but there are just as many reasons to ask why not? There are lots of different types of bacon out there, and we have every right to enjoy as many varieties as possible.

If you’ve been a bit wary of expanding your bacon horizons, ask yourself: why? If you’ve never eaten soy or tempeh-based “facon,” give it a shot. It’s healthier and still more or less hits all the right notes. As for bacon made from other animals, don’t go into it thinking that it’ll taste identical to pork; think of it as a completely different food product altogether. Once you look at it that way, you’ll realize that just about any meat is delicious when given the bacon treatment. Read on to learn about 11 of them.

Smoky, chewy, and full of flavor, no other meat gets anything close to the hype bestowed upon bacon. Unfortunately, bacon just might be the world’s most terrible food when it comes to health, the environment, and animal cruelty. As a cured meat, bacon is heavily associated with colon cancer. Pig farms are infamous for polluting local waterways. And bacon is commonly sourced from farms that subject their pigs to appalling conditions. Vegan bacon lets you enjoy bacon’s special flavors without the cruelty and the health risks.

While some veggieburgers and vegan sausages taste indistinguishable from their meat counterparts, no vegan bacon product is yet in this league. Many of today’s offerings are a “generation 1” sort of bacon alternative. They won’t fool anybody, but they will give you the crispy-chewy texture, the fatty mouthfeel, and the fried smokiness that people crave.

You can make a terrific meat-free bacon substitute from scratch in your kitchen, and there are also a half-dozen brands available in groceries and online. So let’s now run through all your options.

How is bacon made

American bacon is made from pork belly. You may see it called "streaky bacon" in other countries, because it has more fat stripes than, say, British bacon.

The first step to making bacon is to cure it with a mix of salt, sugar, and seasonings. Sometimes preserving agents like potassium nitrate and sodium nitrite are added during this step to prevent bacterial growth. Brands that cut corners will inject bacon with this blend in a process called "pumping", which cuts down on the production time.

Once curing is complete, it's onto smoking. The traditional smoking process can take several days, while a larger-scale production may use a smoke flavoring agent with a convection oven, which cuts down on time.

Types of Hams and How They Are Cooked

When you’re ordering a ham or purchasing one at the supermarket, you’ll want to know what labels mean so you end up with a ham that fits your tastes. Let’s look at some basic distinctions used to label different types of hams and talk about how each of these types should be cooked to maximize the unique flavor and texture.

City Ham Vs. Country Ham

One set of terms you’ll likely run into when ordering ham off of a restaurant menu or purchasing one to prepare at home is “city ham” and “country ham.” The distinction between city and country ham is how the meat is cured.

Hams that are wet-cured are referred to as city hams. Most hams you’ll find at your local supermarket are city hams. In addition to being wet-cured, they are usually smoked. City hams are pre-cooked, meaning all you need to do to prepare the ham at home is gradually heat it through in an oven set to a low temperature. You can also slice off a piece of the ham and eat it cold or fry it on a skillet.

Country hams are dry-cured and may also be smoked. Country hams are not as common as city hams in the U.S., especially in more urban areas. Country hams can be eaten just as they are since they are preserved. They have a very salty taste and a drier texture compared to city hams. In other words, they more closely resemble preserved meats rather than the juicy ham you may picture for a holiday meal.

You can heat these hams to serve them like you would a city ham, but you first need to soak them for at least four hours and up to 24 hours to add moisture and remove some of the salt. You can then boil the ham to heat it, add your favorite glaze and finish it off in a hot oven.

Shank End Vs. Butt End Ham

One important distinction you’ll see when shopping for hams is that some hams are shank-end hams while others are butt-end hams. You can buy whole hams as well, but these cuts of meat can weigh 20 pounds or more. If you’re looking to serve a family rather than an army, you’ll likely want to choose a partial ham. Since partial hams are cut from a whole ham, you end up with two main halves of the whole to consider.

One half is known as the shank end. This is the end lower down the hog’s leg. Shank end hams are what you likely picture when you think of a Christmas or Easter ham. They’re pretty enough to be a centerpiece for a holiday dinner in addition to being the main course. However, the meat on a shank end ham tends to be fattier and less tender than the meat you’ll find in a butt end ham. The butt end is lean and is easier to carve since it only has one bone.

Whether you choose a whole ham, a shank end or a butt end, most people bake their ham in the oven or a roaster. The size of the ham will be the biggest determining factor in how long you should cook it. With hams that come fully cooked, you only want to heat it through without overcooking it. Partially cooked hams will need to spend longer in the oven.

Some cooks choose to score the outside of the ham in a diamond pattern and glaze it to make it more attractive and more flavorful. For a traditional look, try garnishing your ham with whole cloves or pineapple rings and maraschino cherries for your next ham dinner.

Boneless Ham Vs. Bone-In Ham

Another distinction you’ll see is between boneless and bone-in hams. A bone-in ham tends to be moist and have a nice, rich flavor that comes from the bone, but carving it can be a bit challenging since you have to work around the bone. Once you finish carving a bone-in ham, the bone can be used to flavor soup beans, collard greens and other Southern classics.

A boneless ham is made to be easier to carve. Rather than working around a bone, you can make clean passes through the ham to create uniform slices. The downside is that boneless hams are processed, meaning you don’t just lose the bone — you lose some of the ham’s rich flavor and texture. This is generally true of many boneless hams you find at the supermarket, but it should not be the case with quality boneless hams.

Another option to consider is a bone-removed ham. With a bone-removed ham, you still have the ease of carving that you get with a boneless ham, but you’ll see more of the delicious marbling throughout the ham that you would see with a bone-in ham. This third option is a great compromise for people who can’t decide between the traditional appeal of a bone-in ham and the convenience of a boneless ham.

Cooking times for bone-in, boneless and bone-removed hams are similar since the goal is simply to warm the ham. On hams you buy at the grocery store, the label should include a guide for how long to heat the ham. Typically, you want the oven on a low temperature so the ham doesn’t dry out — especially if you’re fixing a boneless ham.

Ham Hocks

A discussion of ham should also give some attention to ham hocks, also called shanks or sometimes pork knuckles. Though ham hocks are not actually part of a ham, they are taken from the portion of the leg just below where the ham stops, at the end of the shank. Essentially, this is a hog’s calf area. Ham hocks contain a lot of collagen, which breaks down as it cooks to turn the meat tender and delicious.

Ham hocks make an excellent base for flavoring soups and broths. You can also fix them as an entree through methods like braising, roasting or slow cooking. You can purchase ham hocks raw, cured or cured and smoked. As with cured or cured and smoked hams, these pre-cooked ham hocks are ready to go and only needed to be heated, but raw ham hocks should be cooked through to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Canadian Bacon

Canadian bacon may not have the word “ham” in the name, but it has more in common with ham than it does bacon. The main difference between Canadian bacon and ham is that, rather than coming from the leg and rump, Canadian bacon mostly comes from the loin — the area behind the hog’s shoulder. It’s interesting to note that, while Americans call this breakfast favorite Canadian bacon, Canadians typically refer to it as “peameal bacon” or simply “back bacon.”

Unlike a standard pork loin, Canadian bacon is wet-cured and smoked, which adds to its ham-like taste and appearance. Like most hams, Canadian bacon typically comes pre-cooked and ready to eat. Since Canadian bacon is traditionally enjoyed with breakfast, a great method for preparing it is to cut slices and fry them in a skillet on the stove.

What’s the Difference Between Pork Belly and Bacon?

So, streaky pork bacon is pork belly, but pork belly isn’t bacon. Instead, pork belly is the whole slab cut from the fleshy underside of a pig. Streaky pork bacon is cut from this slab.

Pork belly is unsmoked and uncured, while much bacon found in the U.S. can undergo a lot of processing—not ButcherBox bacon, though.

While pork belly is, you know, always pork belly, bacon can actually be sourced from different parts of the pig like the back, collar, shoulder, and jowls. In fact, bacon can be cut from entirely different animals, like cows, turkey, and chicken.

The biggest difference between bacon and pork belly, though, is how you prepare the two. Read on for cooking suggestions for both.

Different Types of Vegan Bacon You Can Easily Make on Your Own

While there are vegan bacon brands you can buy from the grocery or any vegan store, there are also different variations you can actually make in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Vegan Rice Paper Bacon

The rice paper sheets you often see from the Asian international store can be made into vegan bacon with some marinating. You can even make this in big batches since the rice paper bacon strips can stay crispy for several days as long as it’s properly stored.

There are only three steps to make it:

  • First, you make a smoky and sweet marinade
  • Cut the rice paper sheets into strips and dip them quickly in water to soften and stick them together. Coat them with the marinade generously.
  • You can either bake the strips, fry, or put them in the microwave to turn them into crispy vegan bacon you will surely love.

Vegan Tempeh Bacon

Tempeh is the crunchier and firmer version of tofu. It’s made from soybeans that have been fermented and compacted to form a dense cake. This type of vegan bacon is also relatively easy to make. Just prepare the smoky and sweet marinade, adjusting the taste that you prefer. Cut the tempeh into thin slices and soak the strips into the marinade for about 1-2 minutes. Once done, you can fry the tempeh on a frying pan at medium heat. Make sure that you only use vegan oil to fry the strips. Enjoy it with a sandwich or with your favorite salad.

Vegan Eggplant Bacon

Yes, this purple-skinned vegetable can be your next favorite vegan bacon. You will need 10 ingredients for this dish. For the marinade, you need a mixture of smoky spices, tamari, vegan Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder, ground black pepper, sea salt, paprika, and avocado oil. Of course, don’t forget the eggplant.

It will take around 40 minutes to make this vegan bacon as it involves baking. However, you can also have it fried if you want, although it may not be as crispy as the baked one. Please make sure the eggplant strips are already golden brown before removing it from the oven or frying pan.

Vegan Coconut Bacon

When making the coconut bacon, make sure that you only use the white coconut flakes without the yellow. The yellowing of the coconut is a sign that it’s not stored correctly or is already old and so it can alter the taste of the coconut bacon.

Vegan coconut bacon is made with smoky flavors by mixing tamari, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and smoked paprika. Once you have the marinade, dip the coconut flakes into the mixture, making sure that both sides of the strips are generously coated. Then you place the strips on the lightly greased pan parchment paper and sprinkle a pinch of salt to taste. Bake the strips for about 15 minutes or until it turns into a nice, caramelized color. Let the coconut strips cool down since it gets crispier as it cools.

Vegan Shiitake Mushroom Bacon

The smoky and spicy flavor of this vegan bacon is a perfect match for your “meat-free” pizza. You can also add this as topping to your salad. This vegan Shiitake version is flavorful and satisfying, and you are sure that it’s 100% meatless. Even those who are not fond of mushrooms will surely love this type of vegan bacon since it’s hard and crispy, you won’t even think it’s mushroom.

Make sure that you will remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms when you make this vegan bacon. Cut the caps into thin strips and fry on a pan with avocado or olive oil. As for the flavoring, add a pinch of salt and smoked paprika to make it smokey and a bit spicy. You will need to roast the shiitake mushrooms to achieve that bacon-like goodness. After you fry the strips, spread them on a large baking sheet and place inside the over. Bake for about 20-30minutes until you see the mushrooms turning into brown color.

Vegans can be very creative with their food, and these vegan bacon types are great alternatives to the traditional ones derived from animal meat. These are healthy and totally guilt-free.

The ‘Bacon Pig’

Most people would rather spend their time eating crispy, smoky strips of bacon than studying the breed it came from, but when a pig has earned the nickname “the bacon pig,” it deserves a closer look.

Ohio Farm Bureau members Paul and Marilyn Morrison raise this special “bacon” breed called the Tamworth on their 350-acre Darke County farm as show pigs and breeding stock for pork producers throughout Ohio, New York and as far west as Missouri and Arkansas.

“I’ve raised just about every breed of meat pig over the past 20 years,” Morrison said. “What makes Tamworths special is that they grow slowly so they are leaner with just the right amount of belly fat.” That’s what you look for in good bacon: lean, finely grained meat balanced with ribbons of fat running throughout.

The Tamworth originated from central England and was imported to America in the early 1800s. Considered a heritage breed, it is the result of centuries of breeding to preserve unique and desirable genetic traits including ones that help it resist disease and tolerate local environmental conditions.

On Morrison’s farm, 10 hefty Tamworth sows, between 500 and 600 pounds each, keep company with other heritage breeds like Poland Chinas and Herefords, all valued for quality meat production. Morrison and other small-scale producers regard these breeds as hardy and perfectly suited for outdoor production. Morrison routinely crossbreeds Berkshires – another heritage breed, quite fatty and a historical favorite of Britain’s Royal family – with the Tamworth. The result is an animal with superior meat tenderness and palatability.

While Morrison feeds his herd soybeans and corn from his fields, he describes them as excellent foragers. “A hundred years ago, Tamworths lived on wild acorns and berries,” he said. Their wiry, ruddy red coats protected them from the sun and helped them adapt to a variety of weather conditions, and strong, sturdy legs helped them walk long distances to forage for their food. Despite these ideal traits, Tamworths began to fall out of favor with some producers. “They didn’t do well in confinement and put on weight too slowly,” Morrison said.

Morrison points out that the Tamworth is considered a threatened breed, a concern supported by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and conserve rare and historic breeds of livestock and poultry. But the swine with a reputation all wrapped up in bacon is making a comeback. The Tamworth Swine Association reports that approximately 2,500 Tamworths exist through the world with the vast majority found in the United States. Many producers are paying renewed attention to the merits of the breed, which include good mothering skills, their ability to be efficient grazers and high meat to bone ratio.

Consumers have also played an important role in the revival of heritage breeds including the Tamworth as they experience the rich genuine flavor of the meat, especially the bacon, which when cooked is lean, distinct and delicious. But then, it’s bacon. What’s not to love?

Marilou Suszko is a food writer from Vermilion. She is the author of Farms and Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate and hosts From My Ohio Kitchen to Yours on the Our Ohio TV series.

Choosing Bacon

We know what bacon should look like when it’s on our plate — browned and crispy with a moist sheen — but if you’ve ever attended a county fair, you know pigs are judged in the ring on looks long before taste. Paul Morrison offered a little guidance on what to look for in bacon when it is still “on the hoof.”

“Fairs are like beauty contests for pigs — it has a lot to do with looks,” said Morrison. “The hog should be lean and heavily muscled and have a solid wide back. That will tell you how much meat it will carry.”

“It should be nice and thick through the shoulders, and its feet should be fairly wide apart,” he added. “The animal should have a balanced shape and walk well, a good indicator of health.”

The ideal weight for Tamworths before they head to the butcher is about 250 pounds, about 70 percent of which will become a finished meat product. The bacon is harvested from the belly of the pig, near the ribs — that’s where the fat (and flavor) is found.

Here are some visual clues to look for when you buy bacon from a producer at a farmers market or in the grocery store: Always look for an equal ratio of meat to fat with the fat intertwined or streaked throughout the strips with no large areas of fat. Then sniff—fresh bacon should have a salty, sweet and smoky campfire aroma. When it comes to choosing thick, thin or medium sliced bacon…well, that’s a lot like love. It’s a personal thing.

Meaty bacon substitutes for pork

Bacon is simply cured pork and any meat can be cured. Pink curing salt will feature in many of these recipes &ndash it contains sodium nitrite and nitrate as well as table salt. It&rsquos there to add a little color and prevent bacteria growing in cured meat, whether it&rsquos beef, lamb, duck or whatever else.

The taste of bacon depends on a constellation of compounds, some of which are only formed on cooking. It&rsquos pretty difficult to replicate &ndash ever had bacon-flavored potato chips? They don&rsquot really hit the mark, do they? But some of these substitutes get pretty close or take the flavor in a new direction, like delicious beef bacon, which is where we&rsquoll start.

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Halal alcohol? No. Halal beer and wine? In a sense, yes. anon1001563 May 13, 2019

It is sad that there is a division with people and foods. The apostle Paul said not to do anything that stumbles your brother. He even went as far as saying "If it causes my brother to stumble I will never eat meat again", although that it was highly unlikely he never needed to go to these extremes.

While many worry about some food being halal or haram, or let's even say kosher, there is a disagreement among others who eat such animals. An argument can be picked in every single claim. For example:

Haram for pork but not for camel - The laws for camel were the same for pork according to the Books of Moses. So a Jew would not view either as Kosher. Still, a Christian may choose not to eat either, may eat one, or may eat both. It is a choice for a Christian on their own taste, and not according to any law, as that law was not given to Christians, but to the Israelites. (Exodus 31:16-17, Romans 14). As for Islam, Islam claims that this book of Moses is not the Taurat, yet the evidence shows otherwise, as the Qur'an has Muhammad ten times in the first five suwar stating that the Qur'an is "confirming that which is WITH you", and thanks to archaeology, we have copies of those books that pre-date Muhammad.

What about pork being unacceptable because Al Masih Isa cast the demons into the swine?

If this is the case, then the genuine Muslim is under obligation to read the rest of the Injeel and not pick and choose like it is a smorgasbord, and just take the bits that suit their already existing beliefs. Either the Injeel is changed, or it isn't. But if it is changed, then Muhammad's claims of nobody altering God's word would be proven false, especially when he is challenging the Jews and Christians to compare it with "that which is with" them. (An-Nisa 4:47, 82) The good news is though that the demons being cast into the pigs weren't because they were any more unclean than any other animal around, but because the demons weren't to be destroyed at this particular time. So they chose to go into the pigs, and all the pigs ran off the cliff and died. The demons obviously get pleasure out of feeling the terror of when a creature goes through dying. As for the pigs though, firstly God views every single life he has created as sacred, and also those pigs all died. So all the demons did was kill a farmer's herd of pigs. They didn't go off into other pigs specifically. But still, it is not wrong to abstain from pork. Good for you if you choose not to.

What about this fake bacon?

Will it offend your brother? Will it make them stumble? For Jews, Muslims, Hindus and certain sects of Christendom, there are meats that they don't eat. What is more important? The friendship with the person who you are a fellow worshipper with, and of course with our creator, or the potential to stumble them? (1Corinthians chapter 8)

If there is not an instance of stumbling somebody, it may very well be an enjoyable thing to eat of these products, but each should be looking at themselves and making sacrifices to not offend their brothers, but more importantly God.

As for the vegetarians and vegans, there are organisations also making meat-flavoured products. So the issue even comes to those who don't worship or believe in God. In this instance, the same principles apply. You are not the lawmaker of the world, and therefore judge things for your own stomach.

So "fake" bacon is a food that one should consider from their own standpoints. As claiming it from a religious source, one needs to be sure of all things. God will judge us based on our choices. If "fake" bacon is chosen to be eaten, then my concern would be "are the ingredients in it harmful to my health" firstly.

Eat proper bacon, not fake stuff. And why would muslims want to eat anything that 'looks' or has the name of bacon? Halal even has Easter products, but muslims don't do Easter. I boycott all Halal anyway, and it should be banned in non-muslim countries. anon996539 September 11, 2016

@anon990065: Bacon isn't pork. It's made from pork. Similarly wine is made from alcohol. If there's a halal wine (non-alcoholic wine), I'd sure love to have it. anon990065 April 4, 2015

Bacon is pork. Have they got halal alcohol too? ZipLine October 5, 2014

@turquoise-- You are absolutely right. We Americans love our bacon. I'm a convert to Islam and I grew up eating pork bacon before becoming Muslim in my twenties. So when suddenly I could not have regular bacon, I looked for an alternative and was relieved to find halal bacon. It's not available everywhere and the quality and flavor does range from product to product. But it allows me to have my favorite breakfast. So I completely agree with you. turquoise October 4, 2014

@stoneMason-- I'm Muslim and of course, I've never had pork bacon. I was curious about what bacon is though and did have halal turkey bacon once. I didn't find it particularly tasty so it's not a food that I buy regularly. But then again, I didn't grow up eating any kind of bacon and it's not a part of my family's culinary culture.

I have non-Muslim friends who love their bacon and eat it all the time. There is even a restaurant in our area that specializes in bacon dishes. I've heard that they sell everything from a basic bacon and eggs to chocolate dipped bacon. It sounds weird to me but I understand that bacon has come to be an important and comforting food in American culture. I personally don't eat it but there are lots of people who do. And it's great that halal bacon is an option for those who want to enjoy bacon while staying true to their religious responsibilities. stoneMason October 4, 2014

Halal bacon sounds a little silly to me. Although bacon can be made from other meats, like the article said, it is synonymous with pork. And the fat content in the pork used to make bacon is what makes bacon what it is. Those who cannot have pork due to dietary or religious reasons should probably skip bacon altogether.

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  1. Abisha

    I fully share her point of view. It is about something different and the idea of ??keeping.

  2. Jeraldo

    I think this - confusion. I am able to prove it.

  3. Zutaur

    Well, thank you. Really blinked. Let's fix it now

  4. Aldn'd

    What necessary phrase... super, remarkable idea

  5. Healleah

    Are there analogs?

  6. Fallamhain

    dyaya .... old temka, but there is no mi ^^ even if you do not look at the pictures))) no fsё ^ _ ^

  7. Audel

    There is no point.

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