A vegan food blogger's recipe using banana peel as a pulled 'pork' substitute is dividing the internet, but it's not as uncommon as you might think

Melissa Copeland / The Stingy VeganThis pulled ‘pork’ sandwich actually features sautéed banana peels.
  • Vegan food blogger Melissa Copeland, aka The Stingy Vegan, recently went viral for sharing a recipe for pulled “pork” that used banana peels.
  • People have had varying opinions on her use of the fruit peel.
  • However, in places such as Venezuela, India, and Southeast Asia, cooking with the outer layer of fruits like bananas and plantains is typically more common.
  • Banana peels can also be used for some household tasks, and reusing them helps reduce organic waste.
  • After seeing success with her recipe, Copeland told INSIDER she’s planning to work with the unconventional ingredient more.

Vegan food blogger Melissa Copeland, otherwise known as The Stingy Vegan, recently crafted a recipe that puts a vegan twist on pulled pork.

The recipe for her Banana Peel Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich calls for a variety of standard ingredients like olive oil, vegan coleslaw, and vegan barbecue sauce as well as spices like paprika, chilli powder, cumin, and dry mustard. But the part that might stand out most is her choice to use banana peel as a substitute for pork.

In a video she posted on Facebook, Copeland demonstrated how she prepared the banana peels

She shredded the banana peel with a fork, coating the strips in spices and sauces, before sautéing the mixture over the stove.

Banana peel pulled pork sandwiches picture 4Melissa Copeland / The Stingy VeganCopeland shredding the banana peel.

Copeland’s creation caught the attention of people across the internet, who had varying opinions on her use of the fruit peel

Even she was not entirely convinced that she would enjoy the banana peel-based meal at first.

“I was as sceptical as everyone else is when they hear about it for the first time. You’d imagine it would be bitter and fibrous, and I wasn’t expecting it to be good,” Copeland told INSIDER. “Fortunately, as a recipe creator I’m not afraid to try new things and since I’ve inadvertently created some pretty gross things in the past I figured I had nothing to lose by trying out banana peels!”

Needless to say, she was pleasantly surprised by her results. And, while some of her video’s viewers weren’t fans of the thought of consuming a banana peel, plenty of others embraced the idea.

“I totally get why people are resistant to the idea of eating banana peel,” Copeland said. “We’ve lived our entire lives thinking it’s not edible so it’s normal to be suspicious. […] I’m surprised that the recipe has done so well but it’s reaching the right people as many have tried it and given very positive feeback. Once people get over the initial ick factor and try it out, they will be convinced!”

Banana peel recipeMelissa Copeland / The Stingy VeganThe ‘pork’ portion of Copeland’s ‘Banana Peel Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich’ recipe.

However, eating banana peels isn’t that uncommon outside of the US

In places such as Venezuela, India, and Southeast Asia, holding onto the outer layer of fruits like bananas and plantains and incorporating them into recipes is typically more common.

“As I was reading the comments [in a vegan Facebook group], someone from Venezuela mentioned that vegetarians and vegans in his country have been using plantain peels for years to adapt a similar shredded meat dish to their diet,” Copeland said. “From there I started researching and trying different recipes in the hopes of coming up with a recipe that would appeal to my vegan audience.”

Banana peels have nutritional value, and they can be used outside of cooking to reduce organic waste

Research suggests that consuming banana peels is actually incredibly healthy. The rind of a medium-sized banana contains a large percentage of your required daily nutrients, like 12% of your daily fibre, 17% of your required vitamin C, 20% of your necessary vitamin B-6, 12% of your daily potassium, and 8% of your required magnesium.

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Banana peels can also be used for some household tasks, like tenderizing meat as it cooks or helping keep your plants alive and well.

It’s also better for the environment, since any secondary use for the peel can help reduce organic waste. The US wastes more than $US160 billion worth of food each year, per the New York Times. According to a 2018 study, that amounts to one pound of food wasted per person per day, with nearly 39% of that waste stemming directly from fruits and vegetables.

Banana peel pulled pork sandwiches picture 1Melissa Copeland / The Stingy VeganCopeland cooks the banana peel mixture for approximately five minutes.

Now, Copeland wants to find other ways to reduce food waste

According to the food blogger, people are already repurposing banana peel in innovative ways.

“Lots of people throw whole bananas, peels and all, into their smoothies,” Copeland said. “And others are coming up with new recipes for banana peels in an effort to reduce waste.”

And now that she knows how successful cooking with banana peels can be, Copeland said she wants to try incorporating the unconventional ingredient into other recipes; for example, as a substitute for chicken in tinga tacos.

“Since I now know that people are willing to try banana peels, I feel inspired to come up with more recipes that help reduce food waste,” she said, adding that she wants to experiment with ingredients that offer vegans or “anyone else willing to try” something that will be new to them.

See the full recipe for the Banana Peel Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwich on The Stingy Vegan.

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