How Is Textured Vegetable Protein Made?
Healthy Living, Learning Center on on August 31 2021 by Bob's Red Mill

How Is Textured Vegetable Protein Made?

Switching over to a plant-based diet? When transitioning to a diet free of animal products, there are several vital ingredients that you'll want to be aware of—one of which being textured vegetable protein. Textured vegetable protein is a popular vegan meat alternative that is made from soy flour. A processed food, TVP is molded and cut into various shapes and sizes before it’s dehydrated and placed in shelf-stable packaging. Its long shelf life and versatility have made it a favorite ingredient amongst vegan cooks. Due to its high demand, you can find textured vegetable protein at most health food stores in flavored and unflavored varieties. Curious to learn more about this meatless “meat”? Continue reading as the Bob's Red Mill food experts explain the production process of textured vegetable protein and how you can use it in your at-home recipes.

The Process of Making TVP

closeup of some chunks of textured soy protein in the hands of a young caucasian man

Created as a byproduct of soybean oil, textured vegetable protein is most often used for cooking and an added ingredient in many processed foods. To make textured vegetable protein, soybean oil must first be created. Creating soybean oil includes using a high-pressure press or a chemical such as hexane (or a combination of both) to heat the soybeans and separate the oil. Once the oil has been properly separated, you're left with flour or paste that contains a high amount of protein.

The soy flour is then used by manufacturers and forced through a machine nozzle while it's hot to create various shapes like chicken nuggets, strips, chunks and flakes. Once cooled off, the dehydrated textured vegetable keeps its shape and forms into a tough and fibrous product. To use TVP in recipes, it must first be rehydrated with liquid before cooking.

Is Textured Vegetable Protein Different Than Textured Soy Protein?

When used in recipes, you'll often see textured vegetable protein listed by a few different names. Most commonly referred to by its initials, TVP, it is also known as textured soy protein, soy meat, and soya chunks. No matter how it's listed, the same process is used to make this product. When adding TVP to your recipes, consider your guest's food allergies. Though soy has excellent nutritional benefits, it is a high allergen food. So much so that all U.S. food products that contain soy must state it on the packaging. If you're making homemade recipes with soy-based ingredients, we recommend letting your guests know before serving it in case of a food allergy.

Benefits of Textured Vegetable Protein

Textured vegetable protein is loaded with nutrition. High in plant-based protein and low in fat, it's an excellent meat alternative—especially for vegans and vegetarians. Because soy contains all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot synthesize, the protein found in TVP is a complete protein and a necessary part of a healthy diet. 

In addition to being good for you, TVP is also a great substitution for those looking to avoid gluten. With many meat alternatives being wheat-based, textured vegetable protein offers a soy-based option that is naturally gluten free and safe for those with a gluten allergy or celiac disease to consume. That being said, when purchasing TVP to replace gluten-containing ingredients, be sure to choose one manufactured and packaged in a gluten free facility. Bob's Red Mill Textured Vegetable Protein is a guaranteed gluten free product and packaged in our separate, dedicated gluten free facility. It's routinely tested for cross-contamination using the R5 ELISA testing protocol to ensure its gluten free status.

How Can You Use TVP?

Vegan nuggets

The many uses of textured vegetable protein are endless. An ingredient commonly used as a vegan meat alternative, TVP can be used to create everything from vegan lasagna to meat-free chili. When left unflavored, textured vegetable protein can be pretty bland. While some may view this as a fault, we believe it's one of the greatest benefits. Porous in nature, textured vegetable protein quickly absorbs the flavors of the liquid it's rehydrated in, making it easy to flavor it however you'd like. TVP can be used as a meat replacement in stews, meatloaf, soups, sauces and even to create vegan chicken nuggets. It is also used as a protein additive and worked into salads, cereals, stuffing, health bars and more!

Not sure if textured vegetable protein will work well in your dinner recipes? As a general rule of thumb, TVP can be added almost anywhere ground beef is typically used—chili, burgers, lasagna, hand pies, etc. There really are endless possibilities when it comes to trying out new textured vegetable protein recipes.

While textured vegetable protein may have started as a mystery ingredient, we hope this article has helped you discover the many ways you can use it to take your plant-based menu to the next level. A source of complete protein and an excellent way to recreate the meaty texture of traditional comfort foods, TVP is a vegetarian pantry staple that you don't want to miss out on. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, have a healthy and happy day!


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