Lightlife Review

In general, I’m not a huge fan of fake, processed meat products (excluding seitan, because I really do like seitan). Not because they don’t taste good but because they tend to have lengthy lists of ingredients I can’t even begin to properly pronounce. Overall, I follow a Michael Pollan-styled philosophy: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Do you see much room for chemicals and preservatives in that sentence? Yeah, me neither.  However, I’m also a firm believer in the unvarnished platitude “everything in moderation.” So every once in awhile, when I’m craving something chewy, maybe even a little meaty, I’ll reach for a faux meat product. I’ve even posted a few reviews on products like these in the my early days as a blogger. (Yikes to those rookie photos that would accompany the posts.)

Over the past couple months, I’ve had a chance to try a few new meaty, meat-less products of Lightlife’s. One of them being the Buffalo Smart Wings pictured above. For many vegetarians, myself included when I first went chicken-free, giving up spicy, salty buffalo wings isn’t easy. So it’s nice to have products out there that can emulate this American favorite. Lightlife’s wings are definitely a little light on the buffalo sauce and the spice, but add some Sriracha and Ranch, and they’ll be able to satisfy most of your buffalo wing cravings. While their ingredient list does contain some questionable ingredients of which you definitely couldn’t find in my kitchen, the list doesn’t go too far overboard. And the faux buffalo wings are definitely healthier than their fatty counterparts, containing a mere 3 grams of fat, and significant serving of protein and fiber.

I also had the pleasure of trying the Original Smart Cutlets, which are basically an emulation of a chicken breast. The cutlets are every bit as chewy as chicken, but just like the bird, they are bland. Pair these with something flavorful or toss them in spice/herb-filled dishes as you would with chicken. I chose to saute the cutlets one evening with some sweet and sour sauce, chili garlic sauce, and a few other ingredients, serving it over quinoa. Delish. Like the wings, these too have a ton of soy-derived protein.

Finally, I tried Lightlife’s Chorizo Style “Smart Sausages.” I grew up on soy dogs, so I knew not to expect these to taste like hot dogs. But I was impressed with how good these were. The dense, slightly spicy dogs had none of that soy taste I’m accustomed to. They’re a nice accompaniment to a side of eggs, or for a light lunch on a bun slathered with dijon mustard.

In the next upcoming posts, I’ll be featuring some easy recipes in which you can use some of these “meat”-styled products. As I said before, while I’m not a huge fan of regularly eating processed soy products, these types of dishes are great for fighting off meat cravings that often come when you first go veg.

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  • Reply
    March 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Please not that not all of Lightlife’s products are hexane or gmo-free. I asked them why the imbalance in the quality and have yet to receive a reply. The best thing for vegetarians to do would be to stick with organic soy products. Why should there be compromise on products for people who want a healthier lifestyle? Always ask and when they hem and haw you will know why.

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    March 26, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I demoed some Morning Star products this week and people were STUNNED by the great taste! I think I’ll have to do these sometime, and especially the hot dogs, which like you said are actually pretty good!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I tried Lightlife this week for the first time. I had their Sesame Chick’n entree and one of their Kickin’ Spicy Black Bean burgers. I was actually kind of impressed by the Sesame Chick’n; however the Black Bean burgers were very disappointing especially when compared to Morningstar’s Spicy Black Bean burgers.

  • Reply
    Jessica Bruckman
    April 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Lightlife is owned by ConAgra. Can anything good come of this? I was a customer for years….no more.

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