Product Review: Smart Bacon and a BLTA Comparison

Bacon. People love bacon. I have a friend who said that her husband would give her up before he gave up bacon. I swear it ranks up there with the right to bear arms; don’t take away my guns or my bacon.

Believe me, I’ve eaten my share of bacon before I went vegan, so I understand. But I can honestly say that I don’t miss it. Lately, I’ve been making sandwiches with Lightlife’s Smart Bacon and we really love it. The 5-ounce package is about 14 slices and come sealed.

The slices peel very easily. Lightly spray a skillet with cooking spray and cook the slices for 3 to 3-1/2 minutes on each side. Look at that! They’re not swimming in grease! They do, however, smell very similar to real bacon as they cook. They’ll start to get slightly brown on the edges and cook up rather crispy. Obviously, without all the fat and grease, Smart Bacon is dryer and crispier. We all really like the taste of it and agree that on a sandwich, it tastes amazing and incredibly like the real deal. By itself, you’ll notice it’s different, but it’s still extremely tasty in its own right. The other thing is that it’s thick; closer to the thick-cut bacon kind.

Here’s a list of ingredients:

Water, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, soybean oil, texured 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. Contains: soy, wheat, sesame.

Now, let’s look at the nutritional facts: (I compared it with Farmland Thick Cut Bacon)

1 slice of Smart Bacon contains 20 calories, 10 calories from fat, real bacon has about 100 calories and 80 calories from fat. Smart Bacon has 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat, no trans fat, no polyunsaturated fat, and no monounsaturated fat. Real bacon contains 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat and doesn’t list totals for the other fats. Smart Bacon has no cholesterol, where real bacon has 15 mg of cholesterol. Smart Bacon has 140 mg of sodium per slice where real bacon contains 320 mg of sodium. Even though there are 2 grams of protein in Smart Bacon and 5 grams in real bacon, I’m willing to grab some extra protein somewhere else—it’s not worth the added fat, sodium, and cholesterol those extra grams of protein come with.

*Keep in mind, there are a number of companies that provide several varieties of bacon. Even the thin-sliced, “all-natural,” uncured bacon still has over twice the calories and 4x the fat of Smart Bacon. By the way, turkey bacon isn’t that much better than real bacon. It still ranks up there with calories, fat, and sodium.

So let’s get to the BLTA (bacon-lettuce-tomato-avocado) sandwich! Put it all together, let’s compare the caloric intake.

I used Rudi’s Sourdough, reduced-fat Vegenaise, 2 slices of Smart Bacon, 1 medium sliced tomato, 3 slices of avocado, and a large iceberg lettuce leaf. It’s important to remember that regular mayo (including Vegenaise) contains 90 calories per tablespoon. The reduced fat is 45—the same for both regular and soy-based ones. Bread makes a big difference, too. That’s actually where the bulk of the calories come from. 1 slice of Rudi’s Sourdough has a whopping 100 calories! (Yes, I will be finding a healthier version).

A regular BLTA:

2 slices of bread: 200 calories, 2 slices of bacon: 200 calories, 1 Tbs reduced-fat mayo: 45 calories, 1 medium tomato slice (1/4″ thick): 4 calories, 1 large leaf of iceberg lettuce: 2 calories, 1/8 of an avocado (3 slices): 70 calories. For a grand total of: 521 calories

Don’t eat me!

A vegan BLTA:

2 slices of Rudi’s Sourdough vegan bread: 200 calories, 2 slices of Smart Bacon: 40 calories, 1 Tbs reduced-fat Vegenaise: 45 calories, 1 medium tomato slice (1/4″ thick): 4 calories, 1 large iceberg lettuce leaf: 2 calories, 1/8 of an avocado (3 slices): 70 calories. For a grand total of: 361 calories.

I definitely recommend trying Lightlife Smart Bacon! Have it on sandwiches or crumble it up in salads. It’s a great tasty, healthy alternative to real bacon. Your colon will thank you! By the way, if anyone knows of a delicious vegan, low-calorie bread, let me know!

Comments

  1. fanya says

    Ask Lightliife if their non organic soybeans are gmo-free and how many of their products are produced using hexane. Is it worth the savings calorically?

    • says

      After doing some checking, Stephanie (thanks for alerting me) Lightlife may in fact contain products “washed” in hexane, an air pollutant. http://gothamist.com/2010/04/13/popular_veggie_burgers_contain_pois.php The ill-effects of hexane is considered extremely low, but the verdict is still out overall. As I mentioned before, Lightlife does use non-gmo products and I imagine with the pressure they’re receiving from consumers, they’ll follow suit with other veg companies and discontinue their (assumed) practice of using hexane. Organic products do not have hexane and fortunately there are lots of options available that are organic and non-gmo. Best to stick to those. Thanks!

    • says

      Ok, you told me to ask Lightlife if they use hexane . . . so I did (sort of) and they don’t. Check out their Facebook page. They said they have always used organic, non-gmo soybeans. I’m glad I did some research–always a good thing. It’s misleading for this article to say: “If a non-organic product contains a soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, or texturized vegetable protein, you can be pretty sure it was made using soy beans that were made with hexane.” Because obviously, it may not be true. It’s always good to not assume things about products without researching it first. Just thought I’d pass this along . . .

  2. pl says

    i don’t eat meat anymore either, but i would always choose a one ingredient natural food over a multi ingredient processed one, no matter what the calorie difference.

    • says

      Sure, me too, but there are vegans who actually miss the taste of bacon–I hear it all the time, so this product can satisfy that caving for some. This was about showing those who eat real bacon that you can still enjoy a BLT without resorting to eating an animal.

  3. MyRedSandals says

    I completely agree that LightLife’s “Smart Bacon” is amazing! As an omnivore, I ate my share of bacon and admit we missed it when Hubby and I became vegans. That is, until we discovered Smart Bacon! Not only is it smart to eat — Yes, I know it’s processed, but it uses organic non-GMO soybeans, is low in calories, fat and sodium, and has no cholesterol — but it honestly tastes deliciously pretty darn close to the real thing. We had vegan BLT’s for dinner tonight and they were yummy. Smart Bacon will continue to be one of our occasional splurges.

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