Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon is my favorite version of vegan bacon – I’ve been buying it for years. So when it turned up at the Grocery Outlet on sale for $1.99 (it’s normally around $5) I bought a few packs – they are frozen so you can keep them for months in the freezer. Sweet Earth’s vegan bacon is made from mainly wheat gluten, expeller-pressed canola oil, organic adzuki beans and organic buckwheat groats, along with a bunch of other ingredients (some organic) that look reasonably ok.
My favorite way to eat it is on whole grain bread either with just vegan butter or a selection from the usual suspects of avocado, tomato, and lettuce. It’s a good way to include some protein with breakfast, with each 20-gram slice containing 4 grams protein. It’s pretty low in fat (compared to the meat version of bacon, which usually contains equal amounts of fat and protein) with around 1.5 grams of fat per slice, plus there’s no saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol. Overall, I think it’s a really good bacon substitute, whether you want to go plant-based for ethical reasons, health reasons, or a bit of both!
Benevolent Bacon – Ingredients & Nutrition Facts
Water, Vital Wheat Gluten, Canola Oil (3), Natural Flavor, Adzuki Beans (1), Buckwheat Groats (1), Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor, Cane Sugar (1), Smoked Paprika, Annatto, Maple Syrup (1), Tomato Powder, Garlic, Onion Powder, Spices, Tomato Paste, Soy Sauce (2) (Water, Soybeans (2), Wheat, Salt, Alcohol (1)), Nutritional Yeast (1), Apple Cider Vinegar (1), Coconut Oil, Sea Salt and Caramel Color (1). (1): Organic. (2): Non-GMO. (3): Non-GMO expeller pressed.
Ethical rating for Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon
I’ve already posted a review of Sweet Earth’s vegetarian pizzas, although Benevolent Bacon will get a higher score as it is 100% vegan. In that previous post, I covered the fact that Sweet Earth is owned by Nestlé, and in a related post on the Green Stars Project blog, I discussed whether to buy vegan brands owned by less ethical companies.
Overall, I think that the Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon deserves 4/5 Green Stars for social and environmental impact, based on these factors:
- This product is vegan. About 70% of Sweet Earth’s products are vegan and the remaining 30% are vegetarian.
- Sweet Earth used to have an Eco Clock on their site which was fun to watch and catalogs some facts and figures like greenhouse gases avoided (79,000 tonnes), water conserved (82 million gallons) and animals saved (24,000 cows, 84,000 pigs and 2.7 million chickens). Those figures are about 1.5 years old – the clock has been removed from the site and now links for “About Us” and “Track our Impact” are circular, providing no information.
- It’s disappointing that Sweet Earth doesn’t provide much information on sustainability or social impact anymore.
- Packaging is not bad – a plastic wrap and then a small outer cardboard sleeve that can be recycled.
- A FAQ on the Sweet Earth site states that, “All ingredients are non-GMO and the majority are organic.” It’s quite confusing then that some ingredients such as wheat gluten (the main ingredient in Benevolent Bacon) are not labeled as non-GMO (see ingredients, above).
- Sweet Earth was a small, local company, based in Moss Beach, on Monterey Bay with a history of mostly women in positions of leadership.
- In 2017, Sweet Earth was acquired by Nestlé, a company with a poor ethical track record. I bought Sweet Earth products before the company was sold to Nestlé, and will continue to support the brand, but only if the original company values are maintained.
- I have to say that the company seems to be going a bit backwards lately, with sparse information presented in a disorganized way. The score would have been 4.5 Green Stars, otherwise.
Summary scores (out of 5) for Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon:
- 4.5 gold stars for quality and value.
- 4 Green Stars for social and environmental impact
If you have a different opinion, please share your rating! Until next time, stay safe : )