Scientifically processed animal matter? Square-shaped mush made from unidentifiable substances?
Whatever your opinion on this budget-friendly convenient food, spam has been celebrated, satirised, musicalised and globalised since its creation in 1937. It’s available in 44 countries across the world and is now available as vegan spam!
Whether you’re a spam fan or not, it has a pretty fascinating history and is enjoyed across many cuisines. In fact, if you haven’t tried vegan spam in Korean gimbap, you may end up being a convert!
Here’s our guide to vegan spam including what it is, where to buy it and how to use it.
spam general knowledge
In case you ever find yourself at a pub quiz with a spam-related question, you may be interested in learning some of these fun facts!
What is spam?
Spam is processed luncheon meat made from 6 ingredients: ground pork/ham, salt, water, potato starch, sugar and sodium nitrate.
The popularity of spam
Spam has had a turbulent history, ricocheting from distasteful tripe to nostalgic choice morsel that has made many an appearance on fine dining menus. To understand its volatile status, we must examine how it came to be ubiquitous in the English diet during the 20th century.
Spam featured heavily in WWII rations
World War II saw the introduction of food rationing in Britain. Sugar, butter, tea, jam, biscuits and meat were just some of the items that were controlled. Spam, an American product, happened to be one of the few meats that remained readily available in the UK. After a few years of using it as a meat alternative, many people became heartily sick of the sight of it, which is possibly why it’s rarely featured on British menus nowadays.
Spam: a food icon?
Perhaps surprisingly then, is the fact that spam has become a bit of a food icon in some countries. Since the Americans introduced spam to South Korea during the Korean war, it now features prominently in many of the national Korean dishes.
Of course, for many of us in the present day, the idea of eating spam is abhorrent because it’s a tin containing dead animals, not because we ate too much of it during the war!
Enter vegan spam…
What is vegan spam?
Vegan spam is a healthier plant-based alternative to luncheon meat.
Known commercially as OmniPork Luncheon, vegan spam is now available in the UK after a successful 2021 debut in Asia! Made from soybeans, wheat, beets and coconut oil, it has a lower sodium content than its meat-based predecessor.
According to David Yeung (Founder of Green Monday and OmniPork), the Asia-Pacific region accounts for some 39% of luncheon meat sales, with pork being the most consumed meat in Asia. This is why they chose to focus on vegan spam as one of their first plant-based meat alternatives!
Where can we buy vegan spam?
OmniPork’s vegan spam is currently only available to buy via online marketplaces, such as Mighty Plants. The pork strips and mince were available in Sainsbury’s supermarkets but these seem to have been pulled off the shelves for now…fingers crossed the OmniPork Luncheon will become available at some of the big retailers in the near future!
If you can’t wait, we recommend visiting one of these UK restaurants serving OmniPork.
If you live in America, make sure you head to a Sprouts to get your hands on some of this delicious vegan spam!
OmniPork Luncheon has enjoyed great success in multiple Asian countries including China, Thailand, Japan and Korea. Vegan spam is available to buy in supermarkets, independent retailers, online shops, restaurants and fast-food chains, including McDonald’s in Hong Kong (where you can buy Luncheon Meat Jumbo Breakfasts and Luncheon Meat McMuffins – ask for no eggs, mayo and cheese!).
For more up-to-date and location-specific results, use the Where to Find feature on the OmniPork website!
How to cook vegan spam
Turns out vegan spam is pretty versatile. OmniPork recommends you pan fry it for a quick and delicious snack. Alternatively, you could use it in a sandwich, sushi, fried rice or even ramen!
Other vegan spam recipe ideas include:
- Dicing it up and using it as a pizza topping
- Slicing it into strips and frying them with peppers and Mexican spices, before enjoying them wrapped up in tortillas
- Diced and doused in maple syrup on top of vegan American pancakes
- Layered in a grilled vegan cheese sandwich
- Cubed in a plant-based mac and cheese
- Deep-fried…because oil is life
- Kimchi-fried rice musubi
Or how about this vegan luncheon rice roll by Woon Heng? Yes please!!
Wonderful vegan spam!
So there we have it, now you know all the wonderful things you can do with vegan spam and how it came to be. I’m not sure about you, but I’m beginning to wish that vegan spam was more readily available in the UK…can you hear us David Yeung?
P.S. Did you know that the Monty Python spam sketch was responsible for the term “spam email”?