Vegan Jerkies That Are Just As Flavorful as the Real Deal
Whether you entirely nixed animal products from your diet years ago or you're simply trying to cut back on your meat consumption once or twice a week, you're bound to crave a few foods that just don't have a spot on your plant-based plate. You might yearn for an ultra-creamy pint of chocolate ice cream after eating coconut-milk versions for ages or hanker for a seriously tender cheeseburger on your Meatless Monday. And when you're going meat-free on the road or hiking trail, you might seriously miss a chewy, smoky hunk of jerky.
Lucky for you, plenty of plant-based brands are now offering the vegan jerky you need to fill the void in your stomach. Made from mushrooms, soy, wheat, and seasonings, these meat-free munchies boast the same leathery texture, savory flavors, and in some cases, protein content, as the real deal. Translation: Even omnivores will want to wolf down a pack of vegan jerky.
In order to create a vegan jerky that hits you with the meat snack's signature umami taste, Moku uses king oyster mushrooms as its base, then flavors each strip with salty coconut aminos, sweet maple syrup and pineapple juice, and savory chickpea miso. The result: A vegan jerky that satisfies every single taste bud. No matter which flavor you choose — Hawaiian Teriyaki, Sweet & Spicy, or Original — you'll score 4 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber (or 25 percent of the dietary fiber intake recommended daily by the United States Department of Agriculture) in just one 170-calorie pack.
Pan's Mushroom Jerky
If Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban is a fan of Pan's Mushroom Jerky — and invested $300,000 in the company last November — it has to be worth a spot in your snack cupboard. Made from a base of just six ingredients — shiitake mushrooms, water, avocado oil, coconut sugar, Himalayan pink salt, chia seeds — this vegan jerky is also fit for Paleo and gluten-free diets. For a classic, no-frills jerky, opt for the Original variety. And if you're craving something a bit more adventurous, grab a pack of the Zesty Thai, Salt & Pepper, or Applewood BBQ versions.
As for nutrition, one serving of the Original flavor packs 6 grams of fiber (or 21 percent percent of the recommended dietary fiber intake) and 9.2 micrograms of vitamin D (or 61 percent of the recommended dietary allowance) — a nutrient that's essential in supporting bone health, according to the National Institutes of Health. Just know that this vegan jerky offers just 1 gram of protein, so if you're looking for a muscle-building munchie, consider chopping it up and adding it to a trail mix featuring nuts and seeds.
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
Not a fan of mushrooms? Grab your chewy snack from Louisville Vegan Jerky Co., which uses soy protein to craft five types of binge-worthy vegan jerkies. The company sells jerky infused with classic flavor profiles — such as Smoked Black Pepper, Smokey Carolina BBQ, and Maple Bacon — as well as varieties that stand out from the crowd, including Buffalo Dill and Perfect Pepperoni. Plus, one serving of the brand's vegan jerkies boasts 5 to 7 grams of protein and offers 70 to 100 calories. (Related: What Eating the Right Amount of Protein Every Day Actually Looks Like)
Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky
If you can't decide if you should stock your pantry with mushroom-style or soy-based vegan jerkies — or something entirely different — add a variety pack from Primal Spirit to your shopping cart. The company creates chewy jerkies made from shiitake mushrooms (in the Hot & Spicy flavor), soy protein (in the Hickory Smoked and Texas BBQ flavors), and wheat protein, aka seitan (in the Mesquite Lime, Thai Peanut, and Teriyaki flavors). (ICYDK, even novice cooks can make seitan from scratch.)
No matter which variety you choose, though, you'll score at least 10 grams of protein per package. And much like the Slim Jims you noshed on back in your meat-eating days, Primal Spirit's vegan jerky comes in single-serving sticks, so you can just rip open the plastic wrap and chomp away with reckless abandon. (Related: 7 Healthy Jerky Snacks for On-the-Go Protein)
KRAVE Plant-Based Jerky
KRAVE may be known for its portable pork and beef snacks, but the brand sure knows how to concoct a killer vegan jerky. The company's Plant-Based Jerky, available in Korean BBQ and Smoked Chipotle flavors, is made from a blend of pea protein isolate, fava bean protein, and pea fiber, so it's no surprise that one serving contains a hefty 8 grams of the muscle-building macronutrient per serving. And to make those not-so-appetizing main ingredients truly delectable in jerky-form, KRAVE combines them with soy sauce and powerful spices. Seriously, you won't even realize you're munching on veggies.
Made from a blend of soy protein, spices, tomatoes, black beans, oil, and rice vinegar, NOBLE Jerky's plant-based jerky is as basic — and delicious — as it gets. The company offers the usual jerky flavors, including Original, Teriyaki, Sweet BBQ, and Chipotle, all made from Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients. Plus, one serving of the chewy vegan jerky provides 7 grams of protein and 1.7 milligrams of iron (or roughly 10 percent of the RDA). Since vegetarians and vegans may struggle to get enough iron in their diet — as plant-derived isn't absorbed as well as iron found in meat — this little bit can help meat-eaters get one step closer to satisfying their quota.
All Y'alls Foods' It's Jerky Y'all
Texas may raise the most cattle out of any state, but that doesn't mean it shies away from vegan jerkies. Take, for instance, All Y'alls Foods, a protein snack company just outside of Dallas that offers three flavors of soy-derived vegan jerky, all of which are inspired by the state itself. The Black Pepper & Sea Salt version is reminiscent of a Texas beach day; the Teriyaki option features prickly pear, a plant native to the state; and the Chipotle variety contains — you guessed it — chipotle peppers, which are typically grown in south Texas. Regardless of the flavor you choose, you'll score 7 grams of protein and 3 to 4 grams of fiber (11 to 14 percent of the recommended dietary fiber intake) per serving. And to round out the company's mission to "save the lives of animals," All Y'alls Foods donates a portion of each sale to Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, a sanctuary for rescued cows in Texas. (Read to go vegan? This guide will help you ease into the diet.)
If you're looking for a vegan jerky you really have to gnaw on — not just chew twice and swallow — Pleather is the one for you. The company offers three varieties of jerkies — all made from dried, marinated strips of seitan — that are tough and chewy like "rawhide," according to co-founder Matt Trahan. When you're craving some heat, nosh on the Black Pepper jerky, flavored with white pepper, Spanish paprika, black pepper, cayenne powder, and other spices. For a balance of sweet and spicy, munch on the Red Pepper Bourbon BBQ jerky, which contains real Kentucky Bourbon. And for an on-the-go snack that tastes *just* like a stir fry, grab a few strips of the Ginger Sesame jerky. Whichever flavor you decide to chomp on, you'll score a whopping 16 grams of protein. (Related: 10 High-Protein Plant-Based Foods That Are Easy to Digest)