There’s quite a bit of back and forth about tofu these days and a lot of voices going back and forth on whether this plant-based food is actually good or bad for you. Listening to the public, you’re head is probably spinning, yet looking at the studies and science of the food, it’s pretty clear as to the answer.
Soybeans, soy protein, and tofu are all incredibly healthy, high-protein plant-based foods that are safe to eat … as long as you know what you’re looking for!
Let’s take a quick step back.
We know what soybeans are and we know what soy protein is — extracted from whole soybeans — but what exactly is tofu?
That rubbery block of white goodness in your fridge is “made by curdling soy milk (from soybeans) and then pressing the resulting curds into soft, white blocks.” Depending on how pressed the block is, you’ll get a variety of densities including soft or silken, medium, firm, extra-firm, and super-firm. Each has its place in the culinary world — silken is great for protein smoothies, while super-firm is perfect for grilling — yet you’ll get the same health benefits from all. It’s pretty well-known that soy products — especially tofu — are excellent sources of protein, but there’s so much more to this wholesome plant-based food! For instance, a 3.5-ounce serving of tofu offers up 20 percent of your DV of calcium, 31 percent DV of manganese, 15 percent DV of selenium (a hard mineral to come by!), 12 percent DV of phosphorus, and nine percent DV of both iron and magnesium.
Soybean and tofu consumption has also been linked to various health benefits including improved heart health, increased weight loss, improved menopause symptoms, better bone health, and it’s been known to help balance and control blood sugar.
So, what’s everyone freaking out about? There are a couple things to take note of.
When it comes to soy produced in the U.S., most is genetically modified and GMOs lead to concerns about “nutritional differences, antibiotic resistance, and an increased risk of food allergies.” How to fix this? Simply spend an extra couple bucks and purchase a non-GMO project verified and organic tofu brand.
Next up … those phytates, — an antinutrient — and trypsin inhibitors, — “interfere with digestion and absorption of protein.” With that said, the process of making tofu — the soaking, cooking, and fermenting — actually drastically reduces the amount of both these compounds. Another technique to slash those antinutrients is by sprouting the soybean before using it to make tofu. Simply look for a “sprouted” version at the market.
The other big issue with soy products is the link between “hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast cancer” interacting with one of the main components in soy products, isoflavones. Isoflavones can actually “mimic the effects of estrogen in the body,” worrying some that it may stimulate growth or interact negatively with hormone-sensitive cancers. With that said, “more emerging research has found that intake of soy foods is not associated with a higher risk of breast cancer.” One study, in particular, published in Nutrition and Cancer, “found that regular consumption of tofu was tied to a lower risk of developing breast cancer in premenopausal women.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk through these concerns with your doctor!
1. 365 Everyday Value Herb Roasted Vegan Turkey-Style Deli Slices
These 365 Everyday Value Herb Roasted Vegan Turkey-Style Deli Slices are the perfect snack that can also transform into a whole meal — simple wedge between two pieces of bread with some vegan cheese and lettuce — or can even be served up for social gatherings as a tasty plant-based appetizer.
A 5.5-ounce package costs $2.99.
- Brought to you by Whole Foods Market. Our standards are what set us apart, and our quality is what keeps us stocking pantries, fridges and freezers with the best natural and organic 365 Everyday Value products every day.
- Savory, with just the right touch of roasted herbs, these traditionally flavored deli slices pack 12 grams of plant-based protein into each tasty serving. Fold between two slices of fresh bread or roll into a perfect on-the-go vegan wrap.
- Cholesterol Free.
- Certified GMO-Free, Certified Kosher, Certified Vegan.
Sandy Penny says “Sometimes vegetarians just want a regular sandwich. This fit the bill perfectly. Nice to eat as a sandwich, wrapped around cheese or veges, or a quick snack. Nice to have around.”
2. Noble Jerky Vegan Jerky
This Noble Jerky Vegan Jerky is a tasty vegan soy-protein snack! Noble Jerky uses non-GMO soy, non-GMO canola oil, evaporated can juice for some natural sweetness, and a combination of tomato, black beans, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, sea salt, and spices. These soy-based snacks use only the highest quality, all-natural, vega ingredients crafted in an artisanal style. Plus, you’ll get 14 grams of protein! A 4-pack of mixed flavors costs $19.99.
Amazon Customer says “I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over 15 years and recently started craving jerky. I have tried multiple brands and recipes. This is the closest to the real deal with a satisfying chewiness, delicious flavor, and filling. My favorite flavor is the original. All the others were a bit too spicy and/or sweet for me. But they were still good.”
Heading out for a hike? No time for breakfast? Grab a few of these ONTRUE Dried Beancurd Asian Tofu Sticks made with non-GMO soybeans and zero extra additives. These vegan tofu snacks are highly absorbent to flavors so mix them with any spices or sauces of your choosing! Either consume without flavoring, pack dip or even stir fry with some spices and your set to go. A 2-pack of 9.88-ounce bags costs $25.98.
Nikki A. says “I used this beancurd sticks as a vegan alternative to a crispy appetizer. I deep-fried it and just added sea salt. It was really delicious and my guests loved it.”
4. Primal Spirit Foods Vegan Jerky
This Primal Spirit Foods Vegan Jerky is yet another wonderful on-the-go soy-based snack! Primal Spirit Foods is proud to provide a vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, non-GMO project verified product that is free of preservatives or artificial ingredients. Each package offers 10 grams of plant-based protein, perfect for pre or post-workout or even an afternoon energizing nibble! This company uses only the highest-quality ingredients and their jerky has been voted as the best new vegan snack by both PETA and VegNews. This jerky is made from soy, seitan, and shiitake mushrooms. A 12-pack of 1-ounce packets costs $19.99.
Sweetnredgurl says “These are just… (insert Moan) my sensitive foodie palate is blown away!
These are beyond delicious! They are tender, juicy, full of flavor and vegan! Because of my failing heart, one thing I have been really missing is jerky because of the sodium and the past 6 months I have returned to vegetarianism. These more than hit the spot on chewiness and FLAVOR! The seitan even gets stuck in your teeth like jerky. This is better, way better. They are moist and delicious! The hickory smoke and bbq are my favorites so far. The thai peanut does not taste like I expected but isn’t bad. The teriyaki is just ok and the lime is awful (too much lime)! But my daughter likes those two so it works out. I have not tried the hot yet; I love spice so looking forward to it! Will definitely keep these in my subscribe and save!”
Amy’s is a trusted plant-based, vegan-friendly frozen food brand. These Amy’s Tofu Scramble Pocket Sandwiches are the perfect mid-day snack! They are vegan, dairy-free, certified Kosher and are made with organic house-made tofu mixed with turmeric, onions, shiitake mushrooms, sweet bell peppers, herbs, and spices. A 4-ounce box costs $2.89.
TigerMom says “I love Amy’s Organic Tofu Scramble pockets. I used to buy them at my local supermarket but they stop to sell them. I am glad I found these yummy pockets here. They are good for any meal during a day. if you love tofu, I recommend trying.”
These Boca Original Chik’n Non-GMO Frozen Vegan Nuggets are great as a snack, side dish, or for your next social gathering. Boca uses non-GMO soy, which is high in protein, offering a super simple, tasty, healthy, vegan snack food. Cook these nuggets in the oven or microwave and you’re ready to go! A 10-ounce bag costs $4.21.
workoutfreak says “Tastes and smells great; also, the price is easy on the wallet. When the maintenance guys had to come in my place one afternoon, they both said how Great my apartment smelled; I was secretly laughing because I had just eaten some of these Veggie Nuggets. Very Sure they had no clue that it was Not actually chicken. At my elevation in Denver, I have to reposition the nuggets and cook longer than advised in the microwave. I appreciate the protein content, too!”
Another soy-based snack from Boca! These Boca Original Non-GMO Frozen Vegan Crumbles are perfect to add to your plant-based tacos, vegan cheese dip, or simply snack on straight from the oven. Boca uses non-GMO soy and each serving is loaded with protein and fiber. A 12-ounce bag costs $4.49.
Asa says “This is great for chili, tacos, you name it! They’re tasty and all you have to do is fry em up in a pan.”
8. Louisville Vegan Jerky
Yet another soy-based jerky option! This Louisville Vegan Jerky promises a vegan, high protein, low fat, non-GMO certified, gluten and cholesterol-free snack alternative for those afternoon munchies. Each bag offers a whopping 21 grams of protein and only 4 grams of fat. Louisville is proud to source local organic ingredients whenever possible to create their 5 flavors of vegan jerky. These snacks are hand-made in small batches to ensure high-quality for each bite! A 3-ounce package costs $36.78.
Kay Anne says “Louisville Vegan Jerky is amazing stuff with a dense, chewy texture, and this multi-flavor pack is perfect. If you haven’t tried it before, 4 of the 5 flavors are dry, and the Carolina BBQ is wet (making it messy, but quite delightful). I prefer the dry texture in general, because I tend to eat jerky on the road or at work, and all the flavors are very tasty. The price here is reasonable too, comparable to anything I’ve found in stores if not better, and I’ve never even seen two of these flavors in stores! So, if you prefer a dry jerky style over something like Primal Strips, and if you like some variety in your flavors, you can’t go wrong with this.”
9. Butler Soy Curls
These Butler Soy Curls are a traditional little slice of soy-based protein heaven! Made from 100 percent natural, non-GMO whole soybeans, these delightful curls are gluten-free, vegan, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and pack a powerful punch of protein with 10 grams per serving. Butler promises their product to be free of preservatives, additives, and chemicals. Simply soak these soy curls for 10 minutes, drain, season, and enjoy! A 3-pack of 8-ounce bags costs $17.99.
Shelly420 says “These things are awesome. I made a vegan “chik’n” soup with them, and they really do taste like chicken. They are like tofu in the way they absorb the flavor of whatever you put them in (it doesn’t taste like tofu). If you don’t overcook them, they have a nice chewy texture, reminiscent of chicken. I will be buying again & again. These are fantastic! I love that they are packed with protein as well. I highly recommend.”
10. Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices
You can’t really go wrong with Tofurky and that goes for these Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices! A perfect plant-based snack, Tofurky promises non-GMO soy, as well as many organic ingredients as possible. These slices are made with organic tofu, vital wheat gluten, and shoyu soy sauce, along with a slew of wonderful natural spices and flavorings. A 5.5-ounce package costs $2.99.
Cocao says “This is my favorite fake sandwich meat. No complaints here. Texture seems weird sr first but as soon as you add toppings and bread, it tastes like a regular sandwich. It’s also good in lettuce wraps. I recommend using 2-3 slices at a time.”
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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