Whenever conversation arises around my decision to follow a plant-based diet, it is inevitable that someone will say, “I could never do that because of bacon.” The salty, crispy, aromatic cuts of meat have people hooked. I get it – bacon is a classic breakfast side, it appears on top of donuts and wrapped around dates, and provides the crunch in a BLT. It makes me wonder if a really good vegan bacon existed, would this be enough for more people to transition to a plant-based diet?
This week, I was lucky enough to try exactly that – really good vegan bacon from the company Prime Roots. To celebrate Earth Day, Prime Roots launched four new flavors of its plant-based bacon, black pepper, sriracha, maple, and hickory. Prior to today’s launch, Prime Roots has been selling its original bacon on its website and according to the founder, Kimberlie Le, the product frequently sells out.
The plant-based bacon alternative looked, smelled, and cooked just like its meat counterpart. Depending on your preference, the bacon can be made chewy or crispy depending on how long you cook it. I opted for crispy and fried the bacon in a cast iron pan for a little over 10 minutes. The bacon was umami-rich with the familiar hickory smoke flavor, and definitely delicious.
The star ingredient in all of Prime Root’s bacon and alternative protein products is koji, a filamentous fungus. Koji is important in Japanese cuisine because it is used in products like miso, sake, and soy sauce. The fungus is great for plant-based meat alternatives in that it grows rapidly, has a neutral flavor, and it can be easily molded into any shape.
Besides bacon, Prime Roots produces a myriad of other meat and seafood alternatives from koji. A few other products include plant-based lobster mac & cheese, sausage ravioli, and prepared meals like kung pao chicken. Le said that Prime Roots’ goal is to become the Nestle of plant-based foods.
Another start-up called AtLast also uses mycelium to craft its plant-based bacon product, and the company recently raised $40 million in funding. Meati uses mycelium to create plant-based steak, chicken, and jerky, and is planning for a rollout of its products this upcoming summer.
Like most of Prime Roots products, the four new bacon flavors will only be available for a limited amount of time. Until the products sell out, an 8 oz. package of bacon costs $9.99, plus $15 shipping on Prime Roots’ website.