One of the first things people say when the topic of going vegan comes up is “where do you get your protein?”
The truth is that we’ve been led to believe we need way more protein than we actually do!
According to the NIH, we only need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
That comes out to 0.8 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight based on your ideal weight (not your current weight if you’re overweight or obese.)
So, let’s say your healthy weight goal is 150 pounds. In this case, you’d only need 54 grams of protein a day!
It’s shockingly easy to reach that metric by eating just plants – and textured vegetable protein (TVP) can help you get there!
Let’s talk more about it and how you can incorporate that into your new plant-based diet.
What is TVP?
So, what exactly is TVP?
It’s defatted soy flour that’s been cooked under high pressure and then dried – usually into crumbles.
I say it looks and feels like grainy breakfast cereal almost. That’s the best description I can give.
TVP isn’t limited to soy, it can also include other plant-based ingredients like corn, wheat, peas, or oats, but soy is the only kind I’ve ever used so that’s what I recommend.
Though you can season it however you’d like, the best way to use it would be to use it in place of cooked ground beef or ground meat in recipes.
Nutrient profile of TVP
TVP is a great source of protein – about 12 grams in a 1/4 cup of dry TVP.
Once you actually cook with it, it expands, however, so you get more bang for your buck!
I cook with it so often that I’ve measured the nutrition information after I’ve prepared it, and I’ve compared the nutrition content of TVP to ground beef and ground pork.
There’s a clear winner.
See for yourself…
TVP vs. ground beef
In terms of nutrition, TVP offers a lower-calorie, lower-fat alternative to ground beef.
It contains no cholesterol and very little sodium, making it so much better for your heart!
Although ground beef has a slightly higher protein content, TVP’s are nothing to sneeze at – remember most people only need around 60 grams of protein per day.
Plus, the higher fiber content and absence of saturated fat and cholesterol give it an edge in terms of overall health benefits.
Whether you want to try TVP as part of a mostly plant-based or vegan diet, just to lose a few extra pounds, or simply to reduce your intake of animal products, it can be a great addition to your meals.
TVP vs. ground pork
Similar to ground beef, comparing TVP to ground pork is again – no contest!
In this comparison, TVP stands out for its significantly lower calorie, fat, and sodium, and higher fiber content.
(Remember, meat never has any fiber, and we need fiber for healthy digestion and elimination).
While ground pork has a slightly higher protein content, the high levels of fat and saturated fat in ground pork make TVP a healthier choice – especially if you’re concerned about heart health and weight management.
Ways to cook with TVP
One of the best things about TVP is its versatility in cooking – you can use it in so many different dishes!
Like I said earlier, it comes as dry crumbles so before you can use it, you need to submerge it in hot water for about 5-10 minutes to rehydrate it.
And as soon as it’s hydrated, you can use it exactly the same you would ground beef!
(For me, this means sauteeing minced garlic, onions, and maybe peppers in a skillet, then adding the TVP and seasonings until it’s the consistency of ground beef – takes like 10 minutes to cook!)
Here are a few ways to use it:
- Tacos: Replace ground beef with rehydrated TVP in your favorite taco recipe.
- Chili: Add cooked TVP to your chili for extra protein and texture.
- Spaghetti: Mix cooked TVP into your spaghetti sauce or other pasta sauce for a tasty and healthy twist.
- Casseroles: Add TVP to casseroles for added texture and nutrition.
- Salads: Crumble TVP on top of your salads to add some plant-based protein.
- Soups: Use TVP as a meat substitute in soups, such as in a vegetarian chili or vegetable soup.
- Wraps: Use rehydrated TVP as a filling in wraps for a tasty and healthy lunch option.
- Veggie Burger: Mash cooked TVP with other veggies and herbs to create a delicious veggie burger.
How to store TVP
Another great thing about TVP is that storing it is simple.
Just store your TVP in an airtight container at room temperature, and it’ll last for ages.
Once cooked, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days or freeze it for later use.
Where to find TVP
I always buy mine online as I’ve never seen it in grocery stores (admittedly I’ve also never looked!)
But I’m sure if you shop at health food stores you can find it there.
I always get this brand on Amazon, but you can try other vendors or brands as well.
The good thing is that it holds absolutely no flavor of its own.
And since you’ll have to rehydrate it and then cook it – texture likely doesn’t matter all that much either.
I mean, if I find some less expensive I’d check it out because I like to save as much money on this plant-based journey as I can!
But yeah, do yourself a favor and buy some TVP.
You can at least try a Meatless Monday and see how it goes!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll never go back to cooking ground beef ever again!
The bottom line
If you’re looking to transition to a more plant-based diet or lifestyle and want to cut out meat but still enjoy the textures and flavors of foods you’re used to, then TVP is definitely worth trying.
It’s affordable, versatile, easy to store, and has an incredibly convincing meat-like texture, making it a great addition to any pantry.
Plus, with its high protein content and easy absorption of spices and seasonings, it can easily be incorporated into a variety of dishes.
So why not give TVP a try?
Your taste buds (and your waistline) will thank you!