Real bacon bits are obviously not vegan.
But there are plenty of “imitation” bacon bits in stores, what about those?
From what I’ve seen, some might be vegan, but most are not vegan-friendly.
It will mostly depend on where you stand on artificial colors, which I’ll explain shortly.
Ingredients in Imitation Bacon Bits
McCormick is a popular brand of imitation bacon bits.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients:
Textured soy flour, canola oil, salt, caramel color, maltodextrin, natural and artificial flavor, lactic acid, yeast extract, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, red 40
Typically you’d be a bit concerned about the lactic acid and natural flavors, but it does say:
Meat-free for vegetarian or vegan diets
That clears up a lot of potential confusion.
However, just because a food can technically be labelled “vegan,” doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Artificial dyes like red 40 are not made from animal products, but there is an issue with them.
Why Artificial Colors in Bacon Bits Are Controversial Among Vegans
Red 40 seems to be in almost all imitation bacon bits.
There are serious safety concerns about artificial dyes like Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5, and other popular ones.
Many of them are even banned in Europe, but allowed in North America.
Because of those concerns, researchers are constantly testing them on animals to try and figure out if they’re safe or not safe for human consumption.
For this reason, many vegans don’t consider artificial colors to be vegan. Others argue that it’s unreasonable to avoid them.
You’ll need to decide for yourself.
If you’re like me, and choose not to eat artificial colors, all common imitation bacon bits are off the table.
Otherwise, you should have a few options, like McCormick, but always check the ingredients label.