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ISO non-meat, non-soy "bacon" bits.... do they exist?

Ok, so I don't eat meat, and a recent breast cancer diagnosis means no more soy forever for me. However, I love me some bacon bits on my salads and various other things. I only just now realized that the ones I have in my cupboard (and most, I suspect) are completely soy.

Does anyone know of a similar substitute that might meet my needs?

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  1. I can't imagine what an alternative could be made out of, given the soy and meat restrictions.

    1. I don't think you'll have much luck, but if it's the smokiness you like, try a little smoked paprika here and there (probably not on salads). Or maybe salmon jerky? if you eat fish. I wouldn't mind that on a salad, come to think of it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: small h

        Here's another vote for smoked paprika. I'm mostly a veg and don't like soy bacon bits, but smoked paprika has served me well with greens, potatoes, soups and stews. You wouldn't get the crunch, but you could add a bit of it to a homemade salad dressing for salads. Or, make your own croutons and include some smoked paprika in the recipe.

        1. re: debbiel

          yep, already got smoked paprika and a love of smoked cheeses here. I even have smoked sea salt. It's the smokey crunch I"m after.

          I did find one recipe for seitan bacon that might do the trick:

          1. re: im_nomad

            This looks interesting. Thanks! Sorry to hear about your breast cancer.

        1. Maybe chopped smoked almonds would work? I also googled and of course got chowhound hits with some good ideas. There's apparently a vegetarian product called bacon salt, maybe you could use that to make nuts or seitan taste bacon-y. Another poster also suggested frying smoked provolone slices until very well done, that could be tasty! Sorry for
          not linking, I'm posting from my phone.

          2 Replies
          1. re: julesrules

            How did I forget about smoked almonds!!!? :)

            1. re: julesrules

              I think the almonds are your best best. That said, if you feel like experimenting, you could make savoury granola to sprinkle on salads, or crumble up some parmesan crisps (you know, those lacy chips made from baked grated parmesan).

            2. If it's the smokiness that you are looking for, smoked salt might be an option:


              It smells wonderful, and while not bacon it does impart a nice smoky flavor if used as a finishing salt.

              ETA... I didn't even catch that you had the smoked salt :) How about sprinkling it on popcorn or fresh potato chips?

              1. I'm very sorry to hear of your diagnosis, and I hope that the fact that you're focused on bacon bits means that things are pretty much under control on the health front.

                In addition to the above ideas, I can only add one that would involve work and experimentation and no promise of success. You might consider taking some kind of neutral vegetable, like eggplant or summer squash, then apply a cure of salt and sugar and perhaps liquid smoke and what not, and then dehydrate it all in batches. Chopped up, that might come to approximate the flavors and textures that you miss. Maybe some cooking would be called for in there somewhere, too. Just one more idea.

                1. Just to add to the conversation, I noticed that "Liquid Smoke" does not appear to have soy ingredients. There are many crunchy tidbits that people sprinkle on top of a salad. I wonder if any of those "crunchies" + some liquid smoke treatment would be at all satisfying?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Florida Hound

                    I wish you luck in ridding yourself of cancer.

                    I also second the liquid smoke; it's vegetarian, has no soy, and is surprisingly bacon-y. I've seen people recommend making fake bacon chips by toasting coconut chips/shreds with liquid smoke and soy sauce. I know, no soy for you; there's a new product by Coconut Secret that's soy-free and tastes much like soy sauce--it even has a smoky component:
                    http://lesliesorganics.com/Aminos.html (there are other sources; Whole Foods may carry it)
                    And South River Miso makes some soy-free tamari misos. All of these are spendy, but if you're not using them often, the tamaris are great. And the coconut sauce is serviceable.

                    Though if you dislike coconut, Bada Bing's suggestions seem pretty good to me. Very thinly sliced (mandoline or vegetable peeler) eggplant will get crispy.

                    Though maybe toasting salted sunflower seeds with some liquid smoke would be easiest . . .

                  2. I have vegetarian friends that love sundried tomato bits on their salads, and since several of them live in smaller towns / meat-and-potatoes areas of the country, I usually end up shipping a pack or two to them. It's not quite the same as bacon bits, but does have a similar mouthfeel. I've always found them in either the produce area or the salad dressings aisle