Pork rinds are light and crispy snacks made from a pig’s skin. Due to their addictive nature, they may prove a hard habit to kick if you decide to give up meat.
Fortunately, no meat doesn’t have to mean no pork rinds. There are ways to replicate their distinctive taste.
You can cook a great vegetarian substitute for pork rinds using staple ingredients like tofu, soy, or rice paper if you’re up to the challenge. Alternatively, you can buy these crunchy delights pre-made.
Read on to learn which option works best for you.
Why Choose a Vegetarian Substitute for Pork Rinds?
Bearing all this in mind, why would you swear off pork rinds? There could be many reasons, but they boil down to preserving your health, the environment, and protecting animals.
Eating pork could have serious health implications. It can lead to parasitic infections and increase the risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
In addition, processed pork is exceptionally high in sodium and saturated fats, contributing to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
You might also be looking to cut out pork due to its detrimental effect on the environment.
The meat industry is one of the leading contributors to global warming and air and water pollution.
Although beef has a significantly more significant impact, pork isn’t far behind.
Finally, you might be strongly opposed to animal cruelty. However, pork rinds are made from pigskin, so it’s clear there are no humane practices involved in the process.
What Is a Vegetarian Substitute for Pork Rinds?
Vegetarian pork rinds might be harder to come by than other more widely available meat alternatives like patties and sausages.
However, you can still find great options to make them yourself or buy pre-made pork rinds.
There are also excellent alternatives if you use them as a crunchy addition to your salad or as breadcrumbs for toppings.
Let’s take a look at my recommendations for vegetarian substitutes for pork rinds.
Being a highly versatile ingredient in vegetarian kitchens, it’s no wonder tofu is a great meat substitute, regardless of the product.
If you want to make pork rinds using tofu, you need tofu skin. Known as “yuba,” this ingredient is made by heating soy milk and then peeling away the film that forms on the surface.
The dried variations are perfect for deep frying, ideal for pork rinds.
Tofu is known for its neutral taste and absorbing the flavor of other ingredients it’s cooked with.
With the right seasoning mix, you can get any flavor of pork rinds you like.
Like tofu, soy is also widely used for vegetarian and vegan cooking. For this reason, it comes in all shapes and sizes, including handy soy curls.
Soy curls are traditionally added to soups, casseroles, stir-fries, and salads to bump up the protein and fiber content.
They’re unflavored, so they can take on any taste you desire.
Add your favorite powdered spices and fry them until you achieve the perfect crispy texture of a pork rind.
Rice papers are super thin wrappers traditionally made from rice, water, and salt. You can fill them with almost anything to make amazing veggie rolls.
Apart from its regular use, you can also use rice paper as a vegetarian substitute for pork rinds.
Their texture is excellent for achieving the lightness of the meat-based product. Besides that, you can fry them until you hit the desired level of crispiness.
Finally, don’t forget to slice them into bite-sized pieces and season them to your liking.
Chicharrones de Harina
Chicharrones de harina are a popular Mexican food street snack. You can make them from wheat flour and corn starch.
They become puffy and crunchy when fried, which you’re looking for from a tasty pork rind.
For best results, serve them with a sauce of your choice. I like to make a simple dip of red wine vinegar with red pepper flakes.
If you primarily use pork rinds for breading, cereals could be the perfect substitute.
They come in different sizes, shapes, and flavors, so you’ll surely find an option best suited for your needs.
Pork rinds can be a fantastic addition to salads for that extra crunch.
However, you should consider crushed nuts if you’re without your go-to salad topper since you stopped eating meat.
Use a single variety or combine almonds, cashews, peanuts, and hazelnuts to create your perfect mix.
They’re healthier but crunchy and rich in flavor, making a great vegetarian substitute for pork rinds.
Pre-Made Vegetarian Substitute for Pork Rinds
If you’re looking for a vegetarian substitute for sausages or patties, there are a variety of products to choose from.
Currently, there’s only one brand of vegetarian pork rind out there – PigOut Pigless Pork Rinds.
Quality trumps quantity, and in this case, one is all you need.
These vegetarian pork rinds are made from rice and pea protein, although you would never be able to tell by their taste.
PigOut Pigless Pork Rinds are a pretty uncanny copycat in texture and flavor.
They’re baked, not fried, free of gluten, GMOs, soy, trans fats, and vegan-friendly.
These vegetarian pork rinds are notably less greasy, less salty, and have a superior crunch.
If you miss pre-packed pork rinds, they’ve got you covered. They’re available in five flavors: Original, Hella Hot, Texas BBQ, Nacho Cheese, and Salt & Vinegar.
While pork rinds are undoubtedly delicious, you might not like how they’re made or their impact on your body.
Whether you’re avoiding only pork or meat in general, this guide has provided some worthy vegetarian alternatives to consider.
Each one is just as tasty and crispy as the original, so it’s up to you to choose the perfect vegetarian substitute for pork rinds.
Grab a pre-made pack or find a recipe that works best. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, have fun, and snack away.