5.0 Editor's Pick
February 29, 2020

Why Fakin’ Makin’ Bacon is Good For Your Heart & Soul (with a Satisfying Recipe for Reluctant Vegans).

Something happened when we rescued our hound, Bowie.

To know him, is to love him. And not just him—all of the doggos.

When you welcome a dog into your life, suddenly the world is filled with dogs. How did we not notice them all before? No matter the breed, size, demeanor, there is this instant recognition. Now, every day on our walks, we make new fur friends. If you feel an inner smile right now, it’s because you know. Dogs are awesome, and we’re all here for it.

Here’s why: it’s true that when we come to truly know and appreciate the inherent beauty of one thing, that appreciation begins to extend to more and more things.

Cut to summer vacation, when we retreated to a quiet ranch in Utah after a family wedding. Every day on our way to the hiking trails, this pig would come running out of a barn to greet us. Snouting and snorting and wagging its tail. So funny and bright and friendly, so happy to see us. Just like Bowie.

I really need to hug this guy. His name? Link.

“As in…please don’t tell me…”

The rancher reassured us that these animals are free, and not raised for food. Phew. We were fully prepared to pig-nap Link on the spot.

As it turns out, this sentient being helped solidify a connection, the literal and metaphorical missing Link in my rationale. It was visceral. Without making any sweeping declarations, a realignment took place, of actions, feeling, beliefs—and I haven’t eaten pork since. It was that simple.

In your best Samuel Jackson voice, “I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.”

Raised as an omnivore, far be it from me to judge or lecture anyone about what they should or should not eat. All I can say is that this shift came about in a natural way for us, and as we continue to educate ourselves and make new choices, going plant-based feels great and just makes sense.

We’re not perfect vegetarians. We’re not perfect environmentalists. I am a yogi, and a flawed one. But with awareness, we can, and do, repattern.

Small tweaks in our habits add up.

I make trips to the local farmer’s market for what’s fresh and in season. Our daughter, on her own, started a vegan lunch club at school with friends, ensuring one more daily meatless meal.

At the very least, these things keep the conversation going. At best, the ideas have a ripple effect, and maybe even inspire a few others along the way.

The biggest surprise of going more plant-based? Instead of limiting our choices, introducing and subbing-in new ingredients actually expands our options, beyond the weeknight menu rut. (Okay, we can keep Taco Tuesday. Just consider new fillings—soy chorizo and crispy zucchini, jackfruit and pineapple—all good!) Sample the weird botanical universe, surprise your taste buds, spark your creativity, and make an edible centerpiece.

If you’re guilty of shopping the same staples every week—tried, true, kid-approved, and, let’s face it, lazy (been there)—this is a chance to open up palates to new flavors, otherworldly plants with nutrient-dense superpowers (yes, even protein), in cool colors good enough to eat, all while being more friendly to our planet. Wins on wins!

So when I find a great recipe, I can’t hog it up for myself. This one is a must-try and a must-share.

Fakin’ Makin’ Bacon might just be the best you’ve ever had.

Shiitake Bacon Recipe


1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp liquid smoke*
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, sliced thinly

*(If you can’t find liquid smoke, a little extra smoked paprika is fine, just less intense in flavoring.)

Makin’ Bacon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk all ingredients except shiitake in bowl.
  3. Add in sliced shiitake, and stir gently. Marinate for 20 minutes to an hour.
  4. Place the shiitake in a single layer onto lined baking sheet (green kitchen tip: invest in a reusable silicone baking mat—next best choice natural, unbleached parchment). Bake for 10 minutes, flip, then bake for 15 more minutes. Increase heat to 375, and bake for another 10. Depending on thickness and type of shiitake you use, baking times may vary. Just keep an eye on them toward the end to make sure they don’t burn.
  5. Remove from the oven and place on plate to cool. The edges become crispy as they drain. Serve immediately.

Serving Ideas

I love, love, love these on avocado toast. It also adds great flavor to baked potatoes, beans, soups, salads, frittatas, vegan grilled cheese—pretty much any recipe that calls for bacon.

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Jodi Ryan  |  Contribution: 20,790

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