The Reason Aldi UK's Vegan Bacon Is Facing Backlash

Aldi UK just stepped in it big time. The German-based discount grocery chain debuted vegan bacon at its UK locations, and the Brits aren't having it.

"Who said vegan needed to be boring (and expensive)? Not us. In store now," Aldi UK announced via Facebook. Not long after, the gloves came off — with meat eaters decrying the use of the word "bacon" for a meat-free product and vegans (or vegan sympathizers) standing firm. With more than 10,000 comments and 550 shares since the original post, the debate rages.

The Facebook conversation was civil at first. Follower Vicky Burrows kicked things off with a straightforward product review. "I've tried it but I'm not sure ... the flavor is a lot milder than bacon, so once it was on whole-meal bread with ketchup, I felt it was a bit lost. However, I don't like real bacon much either, so I might not be the best judge lol. However, the new frozen meat free hot dogs are absolutely delicious," she posted along with a smiling lick-lipping emoji. 

Responses ranged from suggestions — add salt, use liquid smoke, try soy sauce — to criticism calling out vegans for co-opting terms like "bacon" and "hot dogs" to describe meat-free products.

What's in a name?

LADBible compiled a list of if-it's-not-meat-it's-not-bacon comments in response to Aldi UK's' Facebook post. "Call it something else. Bacon is a cut of MEAT. Simples," one said.

"If it's not meat, then it's not pork, beef, chicken, bacon, etc.! It needs to be called streaky rashers only," another commented.

Another Facebook commenter, Jennie Huskisson, simply couldn't wrap her brain around all the fuss, posting, "I'm not a vegan or veggie at all, really love meat and dairy products, BUT I don't get why people get so annoyed by stuff like this. I think it's great having a wide range of food options for vegans and veggies. Sometimes I try them myself as well for a change." 

Another commenter, David Fleming, gave Jennie a shout-out: "Jennie Huskisson, your comments are a breath of fresh air. If everyone was this open minded, life would be so much easier."

An interesting side note: The Great Bacon (or not) Debate among Aldi UK's Facebook followers is a microcosm of a broader conversation. A New York Times article titled "The Fake Meat War" outlines the food industry's efforts to keep up with a changing food landscape and the increasing availability of meat-free — but meat-like — products, including proposed U.S. legislation to define what can, and cannot, be called meat.

According to Totally Vegan Buzz, Aldi UK's vegan bacon is a pea protein product. A 10-strip package retails for £2.19 (about $3).