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    I Tried This Plant-Based Bacon Alternative, And It's Almost As Good As The Real Thing

    "The fact that we're calling it 'alternative' today means that there's something conventional, and looking forward 10, 20 years, plant-based WILL be a conventional option."

    Hello, I'm Crystal and I am a fan of bacon. But I'm also a fan of plant-based foods! (Life is complicated, what can I say.) So, when I heard about* this new plant-based bacon from a company called Prime Roots, I thought it'd be fun to try it out.

    Here's what I thought...

    Upon arrival, I was initially impressed that the packaging and size of the bacon looked just like "real" bacon.

    A package of the plant-based bacon in long strips, shrink wrapped in plastic on a cardboard tray
    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    IDK if you've ever perused the plant-based or vegan bacon at your local grocery store, but they tend to exist in the frozen section and in small, kinda blah, cardboard boxes. Also, the actual bacon in those tends to be a lot smaller than "real" bacon. So I thought it was cool that this came in ~traditional~ bacon packaging (which, btw, is fully recyclable).

    After taking a closer look at what this alternative bacon is actually comprised of, I learned it's made from something called koji.

    Closer on the same packaging, but with the word "koji" circled on the label
    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    "What is koji?" you ask. Well, we asked Prime Roots cofounder Kimberlie Le, who studied alternative foods and microbiology at UC Berkeley and also grew up in the food industry (her mom is a professional chef), and she explained that koji is a Japanese fungi, and that it's responsible for creating the umami taste that is found in miso and soy sauce. Yum.

    Talking a little more in depth about WHY Prime Roots uses koji, Le told BuzzFeed:

    "Think of it as like the 'roots' of mushrooms. If you were to visualize what koji looks like when we grow it, it's very long, really beautiful white fibers that perfectly replicate the texture of meat. When I studied microbiology, I thought about this problem of replacing meat. The first thing I asked myself was, 'what is meat?' And if you look at meat under a microscope, it's these long muscle fibers. So koji perfectly replicates that. If you look under a microscope, they are are almost identical. It's a whole food protein, we're not doing any kind of isolation or extraction, which almost all other plant-based proteins do. We're really just using the whole koji in all its glory."

    And here are the actual ingredients and nutritional info of their bacon, if you're interested:

    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    The bacon is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, GMO-free, soy-free, cholesterol-free, and all natural. You can refrigerate it for up to one week or freeze for up to three months.

    Now on to the taste test!

    Paramount Pictures

    According to the directions on the packaging, to cook the bacon all you do is toss it into a pan/skillet with some oil. (I was surprised it suggested using oil, but I wanted to follow the directions and went ahead and used some vegetable oil.)

    A skillet with two strips of the bacon in it
    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    NOTE: According to Le, you can actually cook the Prime Roots bacon any way you'd cook regular bacon, and you do NOT actually need to use any cooking oil. (The instructions on the specific packaging I had were apparently a little out of date!)

    The plant-based bacon actually sizzled like real bacon while it cooked!

    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    So if you love a good bacon sizzle, you'll get it from this!

    The bacon did shrink up a bit while cooking...

    Bacon has shrunk down and not touching the edge of the skillet anymore
    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    The instructions said for crispy bacon (my preference), to cook it for 10–12 minutes on medium-low heat, turning every 1–2 minutes. I cooked it for 10 because I was afraid I might burn it, LOL.

    ...and here's what it looked like when it was done.

    Cooked, crispy bacon
    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    The instructions also said to drain/pat excess oil on a paper towel, which I did before plating.

    The bacon compared to my head for final size reference, hehe.

    The bacon is about the same length as my head
    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    So, what did it actually taste like?

    Me, biting into a strip of the bacon
    Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

    The bacon was definitely crispy, but there were still a couple "chewy" spots. For the record, I only cooked the bacon for 10 minutes (and you can go up to 12, per the instructions), so maybe an extra minute woulda done the trick. But the crispy, slightly "burnt" parts tasted hella good.

    The initial bite tasted salty and did have a slight ham/pork-like flavor to it, which was pleasantly surprising. But I would not say it tasted EXACTLY like bacon. It had a more "earthy" flavor and smell to it — I guess that was the umami from the koji!

    Did I like it? Yes! Overall, I think Prime Roots's plant-based bacon is a great substitute for "real" bacon if you're in the market to try an alternative, plant-based meat or if you're vegetarian/vegan and looking for a solid bacon replacement.

    And I really like Le's philosophy about the future of alternative meat options, she said: "No one called a veggie burger an 'alternative meat' 10 years ago, it was just a veggie burger. The fact that we're calling it 'alternative' today means that there's something conventional, and I'm really excited because looking forward 10, 20 years, plant-based WILL be a conventional option. It won't just be bacon...and it'll be from a plant source. And that's really the future I'm so, so excited about."

    Prime Roots bacon is currently only available online at their website and starts at $9.99. It's also available in several other flavors including maple, sriracha, and black pepper.

    Note: BuzzFeed was sent this product free for review; however, we are under no obligation to give a positive review.