03/23/2014 04:08 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2014

5 Types of Bacon Not Made From Pigs

In the long and storied history of bacon, at no point has it enjoyed such a moment in the sun as it is right now. One of the most popular foods in existence, cured and smoked pork belly seems to be everywhere you turn. But there are plenty of other varieties of bacon out there, made from other animals as well as vegetable-based proteins and even one fruit that might surprise you. We've rounded up 11 types of bacon that are completely pig-free.

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Until relatively recently, bacon was simply an unhealthy breakfast meat that was typically served alongside a hearty Sunday breakfast. Sure, it might show up in a quiche, club sandwich or Cobb salad, but even those are relatively recent inventions. Then one day some evil genius decided to add a couple slices to a cheeseburger, and Pandora's box was officially opened. Today, bacon shows up in everything from macaroni and cheese to ice cream, from pizza to donut burgers, and honestly, it's gotten a little out of hand. As a meme, bacon is so overblown that people are simply getting exhausted of it, and topping something with bacon is anything but outrageous these days.

  • Seitan
    Seitan is essentially 100 percent wheat gluten, and has a mild flavor and pleasantly chewy texture that makes it a popular meat alternative. Upton’s Naturals sells a bacon seitan, and it’s apparently pretty good: smoky, chewy, and nicely crunchy if you cook it for a little bit longer. You can also make your own fairly easily. If you’re in the market for a meat-free bacon product, seitan appears to be the way to go. Click Here to see More Types of Bacon Not Made from PigsPhoto Credit: Upton's Naturals
  • Elk
    You can technically make bacon out of any meat, and Wisconsin-based Crescent Quality Meats sells bacon with ground and formed elk. Hey, why not? Photo Credit:
  • Venison
    Venison bacon is pretty popular in certain circles (especially hunters), and a company called Curley’s even sells a package with curing salt, seasonings, and instructions. Just about every version calls for a combination of ground venison, ground pork, and pork fat to offset the leanness of the deer, and from what we can gather the resulting product is pretty delicious. Certainly not kosher, though. Photo Credit: © Flickr / k.steudelClick Here to see More Types of Bacon Not Made from Pigs
  • Lamb
    Lamb bacon is quickly becoming very popular, and is on the menu at New York’s new Bar Bacon as well as at Brooklyn’s famed butcher shop The Meat Hook. Lamb bellies are quite small, so The Meat Hook rolls theirs up like pancetta, with tasty results. Indianapolis-based The Smoking Goose also sells and ships lamb bacon, hot smoked over applewood after being rubbed with salt, brown sugar, and maple sugar. It’s rich, strong on lamb flavor, and cooks up just as nicely as pork bacon, so if you like lamb you’ll most likely love this. Heck, we’ll go so far as to predict that within a year lamb bacon really takes off. Photo Credit: © Flickr /
  • Buffalo
    There are a couple companies out there, like Sayersbrook Bison Ranch and Yankee Farmer’s Market, that produce buffalo bacon, and while it’s hard to tell what part of the buffalo the latter uses to make theirs, the former appears to be using the brisket. We have a feeling that it’s probably smoky and quite tasty, but is probably nothing like the real thing. That said, we’d certainly try it. Click Here to see More Types of Bacon Not Made from PigsPhoto Credit: Yankee Farmer’s Market

But lost within all the pandemonium is that fact that protein that's been cured and smoked is astoundingly delicious, and that doesn't just apply to pork belly. There are plenty of reasons why you might opt to eat non-pork bacon: religious dietary restrictions, a vegetarian lifestyle, etc., but there are just as many reasons to ask why not? There are lots of different types of bacon out there, and we have every right to enjoy as many varieties as possible.

If you've been a bit wary of expanding your bacon horizons, ask yourself: why? If you've never eaten soy or tempeh-based "facon," give it a shot. It's healthier and still more or less hits all the right notes. As for bacon made from other animals, don't go into it thinking that it'll taste identical to pork; think of it as a completely different food product altogether. Once you look at it that way, you'll realize that just about any meat is delicious when given the bacon treatment. Read on to learn about 11 of them.

-- Dan Myers, The Daily Meal

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