One of the most common questions vegetarians get is, “so you’ve never had bacon?” Well, I'm a vegetarian and no, I haven’t. Somehow I’m still breathing.
But recently Whole Foods came through for vegans and carnivores alike with the TTLA sandwich. The vegan BLT packs on tempeh bacon, tomato, lettuce, and avocado for the ultimate vegan delight. (Not sure what tempeh is? Here's an explainer—and 16 great recipes.) And we’re so excited to get our hands on one.
Actress Tabitha Brown started the internet obsession with the TTLA when she posted a video of herself enjoying the sandwich to her Facebook page. Brown filmed herself outside of Whole Foods unwrapping the second half of her sandwich. She explains to viewers she planned to save half of the sandwich for later, but it was just too good not to eat and share with the world.
In the video, which currently has more than 1.3 million views, she bites into the sandwich and says, “watch your life change. Honey, I’m looking around and stuff looks different. That’s how good it is. My life is changing right before my eyes. Good god this thing is good.”
This video sparked the #TTLAChallenge, where people capture their own experience eating the sandwich with the hashtag and spread the love all over social media.
So how do we get our hands on one of these masterful meals? Whole Foods has released a list of locations serving up the plant-based lunch, in addition to stores making it available soon. You can find it at the deli counter, usually accompanied by a sign reading “as seen on Facebook”.
If your local store isn’t on the list, don’t worry. Whole Foods released a simple make-at-home version, and we can’t wait to pack it for lunch every day. Start with a generous spread of vegan garlic aioli on sandwich bread (the original sandwich uses ciabatta). You can snag Hampton Creek’s Just Garlic Mayo or any vegan mayo mixed with roasted garlic.
Then you’ll get to the layers. Use any packaged smoked tempeh, like Lightlife’s Organic Fakin’ Bacon Tempeh, or marinate classic tempeh in a smoky sauce like liquid smoke. Quickly pan fry or bake the strips for a bacon-like bite. Next comes the layers of juicy tomato, crunchy lettuce, and creamy avocado to complete the TTLA. (Avocado has a number of health benefits.)
Finish off the sandwich with some salt and pepper. Brown suggests adding pickles for an even better experience, and though it’s not in the Whole Foods recipe, she mentions red onions in her video.
Brown also posts on her social about her love for all things vegan like TGI Friday’s impossible burger, jackfruit tacos, and vegan desserts.