Bacon is among the most popular foods in the United States. Traveling far from the much-beloved BLT, it can now be found flavoring everything from soups to main dishes to desserts, including ice cream and even chocolates. The rich, salty, sweet-smoky flavor and chewy texture of bacon hasn't been lost on vegans.
We've been making bacon (sometimes referred to as vacon) out of all kinds of plant foods, including tofu, tempeh, coconut flakes, rice paper, mushrooms (which are high in FODMAPs), carrots, zucchini, and other vegetables. There even is a book specifically on vegan bacon called Baconish. And I have a few fantastic, IBS-safe tempeh and tofu bacon recipes in my book Low-FODMAP and Vegan. The advantage of using tempeh and tofu for vegan bacon is that they're both high in protein and low in FODMAPs. And if you're on a restricted low-FODMAP diet, concentrated protein foods are limited, so these recipes offer the best of everything: flavor, texture, and protein, while still being kind to your gut. Don't feel like cooking? Try Tofurky's Treehouse Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh Strips, which is low in FODMAPs and ready to cook right out of the box. Look for it at your natural foods store in the produce section or refrigerated aisle.
But if you're seeking occasional variety, vegetables can easily fill the bill. One of my favorite vegetables to use for vegan bacon is eggplant -- it's tender, chewy, high in sugars that help it caramelize when it cooks, and low in FODMAPs, making it an excellent choice for vegans with IBS. If you don't feel like doing much cooking and have a well-stocked natural foods store near you, check out the eggplant bacon from Ape Man Foods (in the refrigerated case). Although it's on the pricey side, a little goes a long way. Plus, it's wonderfully convenient and superlow in FODMAPs.
If you're up for cooking, there are a number of simple eggplant bacon recipes wafting around the Web, and many of them are low in FODMAPs too. One of the easiest and my absolute favorite is from DIYVeganTV (watch the first video below -- just ignore the high-FODMAP sandwich ingredients at the end). With five minimalist ingredients, nothing could be simpler or more tasty.
Here are a few other eggplant bacon recipes to try, each low in FODMAPs and with its own unique spin:
Whole Foods Eggplant Bacon
The Spirited Spoon Eggplant Bacon
The Edgy Veg Eggplant Bacon
An intriguing twist on vegan bacon is the use of rice paper, which is naturally thin and crispy, gluten-free, and low-FODMAP. There are even some interesting techniques for giving it a very bacon-like marbled effect, if you're creatively inclined:
Yup.. It's Vegan, Vegan Rice Paper Bacon
Revolution in Bloom Rice Paper Bacon
If you prefer something more visual, watch the second video below, which features Kasper and Karina, the original inventors of laekon, a Danish term that means "lovely bacon" or "love bacon" in English.
Coconut bacon, while delish, is a little higher in FODMAPs, so you'll need to use it more judiciously. Still, you can't go wrong sprinkling a salad or Bliss Bowl (from Low-FODMAP and Vegan) with a little bacon made from large dried coconut flakes. You can even purchase it ready-made: Phoney Baloney's Coconut Bacon. Ready to try your hand at making coconut bacon? Here are a couple of recipes to get you started:
Cookie and Kate Coconut Bacon
The Simple Veganista Coconut Bacon
Remember that not all vegan bacon is low in FODMAPs, even if the main ingredient appears to be. Always read package labels closely and scan recipes thoroughly to be sure they don't contain ingredients that might trigger your symptoms.
Kasper and Karina making Laekon, rice paper bacon.