If you're new to textured vegetable protein, start here.
Quick section summary:
What is textured vegetable protein (TVP)?
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 food service, retail, and institutional (think school lunch and prison meal programs). It’s lightweight and has a long shelf life, making it perfect for backpacking, disaster preparedness, and even rescue-type situations.
How does textured vegetable protein (TVP) taste?
By itself, TVP has virtually no flavor at all.
Textured Vegetable Protein absorbs flavorings extraordinarily well and has a fibrous, spongy texture similar to animal meat. This toothy texture makes it an excellent choice for people looking for alternatives to the familiar foods of their pre-vegan days.
Evidence-based information from professionals / Source
2. Textured vegetable protein nutrition information
Evidence-based nutrition information from licensed dietitians.
Quick section summary:
Is TVP safe to eat?
Absolutely. Textured Vegetable Protein is a processed soy product. However, being processed doesn’t automatically eliminate it from a healthy vegan diet. Like any other processed food, it’s best to eat it in moderation.
Unlike other whole soy foods like tempeh and minimally processed soy foods like tofu, textured vegetable protein is a processed soy product.
You might think, “Eating a bunch of processed soy food doesn’t sound all that healthy to me.” And you’d be correct, but only because no healthy eating plan should consist of a bunch of processed foods, soy, or otherwise.
Please don’t listen to me; I’m not a dietitian.
For accurate, evidence-based information, I turned to experts on vegan nutrition.
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.
Author and vegan dietitian Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, concurs.
Messina believes vegan diets need to be realistic, which means making allowances for foods that help people go and stay vegan, like TVP.
Finally, remember that soy products are not the only plant-based protein options. Legumes, seitan, nuts, and seeds are also excellent protein sources.
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 — and reduce 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 and the benefits noted in clinical trials, soy is not only safe to eat but 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)
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.
Here’s what you need to know before you head to the store.
Quick section summary:
Is TVP vegan?
Yes, it’s entirely suitable for vegans. Common names for these products are “TVP,” “textured vegetable protein,” “TSP,” or “textured soy protein.”
Finding 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 textured vegetable protein (TVP) and textured soy protein; they’re the same. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find it here.
If you don’t spot it, head to the dried goods section. Sometimes you’ll spot it near the dry 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 TVP and TSP?
Textured vegetable protein (TVP) and textured soy protein (TSP) can be used interchangeably.
The only difference between the two is TVP is the registered trademark of Archer Daniels Midland Company.
How to store 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 being hydrated so keep it in the fridge.