My vegan love of TVP – stop demonising soya

Soya chunks with vegetables in a pan

What is TVP?

When I first became vegetarian and then vegan, textured vegetable protein – TVP or soya chunks was about the only meat replacement I could get hold of locally.

You could and can get it either flavoured or unflavoured and in either chunks or mince.

As a dried replacement, it lasts for ages and grows when “rehydrated”. It’s brilliant as soaking up flavours and the cheapest meat replacement out there.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look all that appetising, but it tastes just fine.

Bags of dried TVP - mince and chunks

Is TVP good for you?

Yes.

It’s low in fat and calories and high in fibre. It’s a complete protein too.

But, it’s also highly processed and so some people may wish to avoid it. It’s good in moderation, like most things in my view

What’s so bad about soya?

The UK imports ton tonnes of soya a year – estimates state thirty to sixty per cent of this is from sustainable sources. One per cent of the UK population is vegan – so it stands to reason we are not the main consumer of all that soya.

Seventy per cent of the soya imports in 2018 came from soya meal – in other words, animal feed.

We also import soya oil and animal products which have already ingested soya.

It’s all explained here

Soya imports are responsible for 47 per cent of the European Union deforestation footprint. Palm oil is responsible for a minute 10 per cent in comparison – yes, soya is a more devastating crop than palm oil – but it’s down to the meat industry, not veganism.

Can soya be grown in the UK?

Yes, in short.

Check out this page from Soya UK – http://www.soya-uk.com/soya/

I would go as far as saying, as vegans are just one per cent of the population, the UK could grow enough soya to feed us easily – it’s the animal agriculture industry which is consuming it all.

Why do I love TVP?

It’s cheap. In fact, in some good independent health food shops, you can buy it as a refill and measure out how much you need.

It lasts for ages in the cupboard.

It’s so adaptable – the mince is good for bolognaise, chilli, shepherd’s pie etc

The chunks are great in a curry, or with pasta – I rehydrate them and fry them with garlic and in soya sauce sometimes – or Henderson’s Relish. And just serve with rice.

I also like to rehydrate unflavoured TVP chunks in vegetable stock, stir fry with onion, mushrooms and broccoli and mix with penne or pasta shells using vegan mayo or pesto as the sauce depending on my mood. A good grind of black pepper also adds a nice kick.

Incidentally, when I did the Ration Challenge last year – Read about it here – I chose TVP as my extra protein rather than tofu as, unhydrated, you get much more TVP for the allowed weight than you do tofu and it lasts longer too.

Hand holding dried TVP chunks

 

Vegans love treats too

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There is a popular myth that vegans have a very bland diet.

That is about as accurate as electoral polls – most vegans I know devour junk food and treats even more greedily than their omnivore friends.

Of course, there’s different types of vegan treats – there’s natural treats, accidently vegan treats and, of course, treats specifically marketed at vegans.

Natural-wise, you can just tear up some kale, stick it on a well-oiled (and I don’t mean drunk) tray season it with salt and pepper and roast it – and you have kale crisps – and very good they are too. Of course, you can eat fruit, roast other thinly sliced veg as crisps and munch on nuts. I spent last Sunday morning in my friend’s garden eating raw beans straight from the pod – and very nice they are too.

But, these are all very healthy options, and, sometimes, the point of treats is to be less than healthy. Although, vegan treats are, in general, more healthy than non-vegan treats. But some things like Oreos and Space Raiders are marked under the banner of “surprisingly vegan” – in other words, they just happen to be vegan. An added advantage with Space Raiders is that they are still only £1 for a packet of 10. The pickled onion variety is still vegan and still utterly divine – it’s not as though you’re eating real alien faces.

It also has to be said that quite often meat varieties of crisps are vegan, but salt and vinegar are sometimes not – it is always worth checking.

If you want post crisps that are vegan and sound a bit healthier crisp-wise, then Eat Real (http://eatreal.co.uk/) have some great offerings and they’re widely available.

Their Hummus chips are a personal favourite, as are the Lentil Chilli and Lemon Chips.

This weekend, I tried the Quinoa and Kale Jalapeno and Cheddar Puffs. The Quinoa Puffs have more crunch than other types of puff crisps, and these pack quite a punch. The kale taste certainly cuts through, but the jalapeno hits you with a nice heat that certainly leaves a memorable taste in your mouth. The various ranges all contain a range of flavours and they are well worth checking out.

As it’s summer, I have to mention the 4 U Free From Chocolate and Vanilla Cones from Morrisons. There are quite a few varieties of vegan ice cream out there now, but these are the first chocolate Cornetto-style ones I’ve tried – and I’m impressed. The chocolate hit is lovely and it complements the vanilla very well, but, they aren’t as luscious as the Tesco Strawberry and Vanilla Cones – the Tesco cones actually retain their crunch, something the 4 U cones lack – the Tesco ones have a bit of chocolate at the bottom of the cone too – a bit of chocolate at the bottom of the cone goes a long way in my view.

I am also a huge fan of the devilishly moorish Lazy Day range of goodies (http://www.lazydayfoods.com/) Their Millionaire’s Shortbread is utterly divine, as is their Belgian Chocolate Rocky Road. The chocolate on the latter is divinely rich and the marshmallows yummily sweet – eating it is a truly orgasmic experience. The Ginger Tiffin is another favourite – the hit of stem ginger will not disappoint any ginger lovers. The only problem with this taste of luxury is that a box is disappears very quickly – a pack can vanish before you’ve got through a whole episode of Dr Who.

I’ve mentioned the Tesco Fondant Truffles before – and they still stand up as a cheaper version of the Choices chocolates, but I must mention Panda Liquorice. I am a huge liquorice fan, and Panda’s Blueberry Liquorice is soft, sticky and very addictive – the perfect vegan sweet.

So there you have a brief overview of vegan treats – and I didn’t even mention Vego bars once…