Vegan Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Guide

« LAST UPDATE: 20 August 2021 »

PUBLISHED: 5 August 2015

Textured Vegetable Protein, or TVP for short, is a common ingredient found in some of your favorite foods. Despite that, many people don’t know much about this popular soy product.

I’m here to help change that.

First, I’ll cover the basics and answer questions like: What is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)? How is it made? Does it taste like anything?

Secondly, we’ll discuss its nutrition and whether it can be part of a healthy diet.

Next, it’s time to go shopping. There’s a handy shopping guide to help point you in the right direction. Plus, there’s helpful storage information for once you’re home.

Finally, you’ll find cooking basics along with lots of vegan TVP recipes to try.

Let’s get started.

QUICK FACTS

» Category: Food Guides
» Minutes to Read: 5
» Recipes to Try: 12

Vegan Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Guide

PUBLISHED: 5 August 2015  »  LAST UPDATE: 20 August 2021

Textured Vegetable Protein, or TVP for short, is a common ingredient found in some of your favorite foods. Despite that, many people don’t know much about this popular soy product.

I’m here to help change that.

First, I’ll cover the basics and answer questions like: What is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)? How is it made? Does it taste like anything?

Secondly, we’ll discuss its nutrition and whether it can be part of a healthy diet.

Next, it’s time to go shopping. There’s a handy shopping guide to help point you in the right direction. Plus, there’s helpful storage information for once you’re home.

Finally, you’ll find cooking basics along with lots of vegan TVP recipes to try.

Let’s get started.

QUICK FACTS

» Category: Food Guides
» Minutes to Read: 5
» Recipes to Try: 12

 

What is Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)?

A definition and brief history.

A brown bowl of uncooked textured vegetable protein sitting on a blue napkin

Uncooked textured vegetable protein / Source

It’s Made From Soy

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), or Textured Soy Protein (TSP), is a product made from soy flour.

To begin, the manufacturers extract the oil from the soybean. Next, it’s cooked under pressure and extruded. Finally, it’s dehydrated.

Because of its low cost and high nutrition, TVP is a favorite of foodservice, retail, and institutional (think school lunch and prison meal programs) facilities everywhere. It’s lightweight and has a long shelf life, which makes it perfect for backpacking and disaster preparedness, and even rescue-type situations.

What Does Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Taste Like?

By itself, TVP has virtually no flavor at all.

Textured Vegetable Protein absorbs flavorings extraordinarily well and has a fibrous, spongy texture that is similar to animal meat. This toothy texture makes it an excellent choice for people who are looking for alternatives to the familiar foods of their pre-vegan days.

 

Is TVP Healthy?

Unlike other whole soy foods like tempeh and minimally processed soy foods like tofu, textured vegetable protein is a processed soy product.

You might be thinking, “Eating a bunch of processed soy food doesn’t sound all that healthy to me.” And you’d be right, but only because no healthy eating plan should consist of a bunch of processed foods, soy, or otherwise.

Please don’t listen to me, though; I’m not a dietitian.

For real, evidence-based nutrition information, I turned to experts on vegan nutrition.

Here’s what they had to say.

Doctor holding heart with bandage

 Healthcare professional holding a red bandaged heart / Source

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Nutrition Information

To determine if textured vegetable protein (TVP) is healthy, I turned to Anya Todd MS, RD, LD.

According to Todd, the nutrients in soy foods can vary among different preparations. She admits that, while the nutrition in textured vegetable protein isn’t as praise-worthy as a whole soy food like tempeh, TVP can still be a part of a healthy vegan diet.

“Bottom line, soy is perfectly fine in moderation. When looking at soy though, ideally we should be eating soy as minimally as possible, but even processed soy can have the occasional place in a vegan diet.” (1)

Todd isn’t alone in her thoughts on textured vegetable protein either.

Experts Agree

Author and vegan dietitian Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, concurs.

Healthy vegan diets should be based mostly on whole plant foods. But the all or nothing approach that bans processed foods and added fats isn’t necessary for good health.”

Messina believes vegan diets need to be realistic, and that means making allowances for foods that help people go and stay vegan, like TVP.

Finally, keep in mind that soy products are not the only plant-based protein options. Legumes, seitan, nuts, and seeds are excellent protein sources as well.

Soy Isoflavones

Soybeans contain phytoestrogens called isoflavones.

Some people claim that these soy isoflavones act like the female sex hormone estrogen in the body and can potentially increase the risk of cancers — especially breast cancer — as well as reduce the testosterone levels in men.

But concerns about adverse effects are not supported by the clinical literature available at the time of this writing.

Soy is one of the most researched foods — nearly 2,000 soy-related papers published annually — and based on the health benefits in these studies along with the benefits noted in clinical trials soy is not only safe to eat, but it’s also beneficial when consumed in moderation. (2, 3)

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Some people will avoid textured vegetable protein (TVP) because they are afraid to consume GMOs.

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been manipulated in a lab using genetic engineering techniques. Scientists alter genes using DNA from different living organisms like bacteria or viruses to get specific traits such as resistance to disease or tolerance of herbicides or pesticides. (4)

Soybeans are the second-largest crop grown in the US after corn, and they’re also one of the top genetically modified crops.

These numbers are significant because even if you’re not eating soy foods directly — if you’re eating animals — you’re most likely still consuming soy. Currently, 85 percent of all GMO soybeans end up in animal feed for farmed animals, where it eventually ends up on your plate.

Buying Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

There are criticisms about the practice surrounding bioengineering and the production of genetically modified organisms. In more than 60 countries worldwide, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the manufacture and sale of them.

Here in the US, the government has approved the use of bioengineered crops. (4)

When buying TVP, unless the product has a specific GMO-free label, then there’s a good chance it’s genetically modified.

For those who are looking to avoid GMO soy, finding non-GMO textured vegetable protein is easy. Look for the information on the label when purchasing.

Reading Food Labels:

Is TVP safe to eat?

Absolutely. Textured Vegetable Protein is a processed soy product. Being processed doesn’t automatically eliminate it from a healthy vegan diet, however. Like any other processed food, it’s best to eat it in moderation.

 

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Shopping Guide

If you’ve never heard of textured vegetable protein or TVP before, you might not know where to buy it.

Here’s what you need to know before you head to the store.

The bulk section of the grocery store

 Bulk section at the grocery store / Source

Find Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) in Stores

Finding textured vegetable protein in stores isn’t complicated but placement can vary widely by store.

First things first, head over to the bulk section of the store. Scan the labels for both textured vegetable protein (TVP) and textured soy protein, they’re the same thing. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find it here.

If you don’t spot it, head over to the dried goods section. Sometimes you’ll spot it near the dehydrated soup mixes. Look for a pale-colored dry crumble or nuggets.

And if you still can’t find it after that, ask someone who works at the store for help.

What’s the Difference Between Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) and Textured Soy Protein (TSP)?

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) and Textured Soy Protein (TSP) are similar products that can be used interchangeably.

The only difference between the two is TVP is the registered trademark of Archer Daniels Midland Company.

Storing Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

When stored in an air-tight container, unflavored and dehydrated TVP has a shelf life of at least one year.

However, it will spoil within several days after hydrated so keep it in the fridge. 

Section Summary:

Is TVP Vegan?

Yes, it’s completely suitable for vegans. Common names for these products are “TVP,” “textured vegetable protein,” “TSP,” or “textured soy protein.”

 

Vegan Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Recipes

Are you ready to get cooking with TVP? Here is a selection of vegan recipes for inspiration.

Recipes

  1. High-Protein Vegan Burgers
    Full of Plants
  1. Vegan Soy Chorizo
    Yup, It’s Vegan!
  1. Garden Veggie Sloppy Joes
    Healthy. Happy. Life.
  1. TVP Vegan Larb (Laotian Salad)
    Vegan Vegan Val
  1. Vegan Schnitzel
    Elephantastic Vegan
  1. Vegetarian Chili
    Stingy Vegan
  1. Vegan Egg Roll in a Bowl
    Vegan Blueberry
  1. Vegan Sausage Crumbles
    The Hidden Veggies
  1. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
    Elephantastic Vegan
  1. TVP Tacos
    Dora’s Table
  1. Vegan Tamales
    Vegan Blueberry
  1. Serbian White Bean Soup
    Ve Eat Cook Bake

Vegan TVP Recipes

A burger sitting on a plate with a wooden background. Photo by Full of Plants.

1. High-Protein Vegan Burgers
Full of Plants

A skillet of vegan soy chorizo

2. Vegan Soy Chorizo
Yup, It’s Vegan!

A tvp sloppy joe sitting on a slate board with coleslaw in the background

3. Garden Veggie Sloppy Joes
Healthy. Happy. Life.

Bowl of vegan Lab sitting on a table

4. TVP Vegan Larb (Laotian Salad)
Vegan Vegan Val

A piece of vegan schnitzel on a fork

5. Vegan Schnitzel
Elephantastic Vegan

Bowl of chili with someone squeezing a lime on top

6. Vegetarian Chili
Stingy Vegan

Vegan egg roll in a bowl sitting on a table

7. Vegan Egg Roll in a Bowl
Vegan Blueberry

Sausage crumbles on a pizza

8. Vegan Sausage Crumbles
The Hidden Veggies

A white bowl of spaghetti bolognese with a side salad

9. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
Elephantastic Vegan

A plate of three tacos with a side of guacamole

10. TVP Tacos
Dora’s Table

A plate of two tamales on a table with a fork and napkin

11. Vegan Tamales
Vegan Blueberry

12. Serbian White Bean Soup
Ve Eat Cook Bake

 
Vegan TVP Guide | Your Daily Vegan

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I am committed to providing accurate information to the vegan community. Meticulously researched, the vegan topic explored in this guide contains the information available at the time of publishing.

I don’t just say it; I source it too.

All guides are reviewed and updated regularly.

Please contact me if you find incorrect data.

Article Sources

  1. Todd, A. (2018) Personal Interview. http://www.anyatodd.com/
  2. Messina, M., & Messina, V. (2010). The Role of Soy in Vegetarian Diets. Nutrients,v2(8), 855–888. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.3390/nu2080855
  3. Norris, J. (2100). Soy: What’s the Harm? VeganHealth.org. Retrieved from http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/soy_wth
  4. Learn About GMOs. Non GMO Project. Retrieved from https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo