I have a confession: I’m a Midwestern man and I don’t eat bacon.
When other dudes catch wind of this, they are visibly uncomfortable. I usually brace for a punch in the face. Luckily, their response is slightly more dignified: “Does your wife make you eat this way?”
I usually answer with a joke about how “I just eat what’s on the table!” The implication is that I’m just like the stereotypical “manly man” and all my food is served up by my wife while I drink beer and belch in the Lazy Boy. This joke has been especially well-received at the office, where I’m convinced the “ol’ ball and chain” wife jokes originated. Kayli loves them of course.
If I’ve said that to you, I totally lied. Sorry. The truth: I choose to eat this way.
I believe plant-based eating is the manliest way to go. And you can still have your bacon… sort of.
Let me explain.
- It prevents the chronic disease most common in my gene pool: stroke. The core of masculinity is to protect and provide for your family (see Art of Manliness). The strategy that will let me do this for the long haul: eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.
- Climate change scares the hell out of me. When I decided to reduce my carbon footprint a few years back, cutting out red meat was the most impactful way to do that.
- It is an expression of patriotism. Bear with me. Where I grew up, meals were planned around the big chunk of meat in the middle of the plate. Veggies were a side dish, and most likely in the form of fried potatoes. America was founded on the desire and ability to think for yourself and choose your path. By choosing to be a thoughtful eater, I’m exercising my patriotic duties.
While most will balk at my reasoning, no man balks at bacon. My inaugural recipe on the Plant Eaters’ Manifesto is Tempeh Bacon.
- block of tempeh (8 oz.)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1½ teaspoons liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- large pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Prep tempeh: Slice tempeh into small squares or crumble into small pieces
- Prep sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together maple syrup, liquid smoke, tomato paste, garlic powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, paprika, and salt.
- In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high until hot.
- Add prepared tempeh and saute until browned.
- When tempeh is browned, pour in sauce mixture and stir constantly until sauce thickens and begins to caramelize.
- Remove from heat and eat immediately or cool completely before storing in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
I make a big batch for my weekday lunch salads. More on that later.