Jerky is the new “it” snack for everyone. Keto dieters are eating it. Paleo followers are devouring it. Regular people are eating it. And yes, now vegans can enjoy this classic snack food, too.
People have been eating traditional beef jerky for centuries. It’s rich in protein and vital nutrients without being too high in calories. Until recently, vegans have been left out of the jerky game. Today, there are dozens of brands offering vegan jerky. Which ones are worth trying? We’ll explore the top brands, according to users, and explain what vegan jerky is made of.
What is Vegan Jerky Made Of?
Vegan jerky can be made of many of the same meat alternatives you find in stores. Textures vary, but many brands combine different meat alternatives and flavors to create jerky that tastes just like the real thing. In many cases, you can’t tell the difference between the two.
Some common ingredients found in vegan jerky include:
- Soy: Many vegan jerky products are made from soy. Some are made with non-GMO soy (the ideal option), while others are made with conventional soy. Soy is rich in protein, low in fat and low in carbohydrates. It’s a popular meat alternative, and it absorbs flavors well.
- Seitan: A popular meat alternative with a true meaty texture. Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten, which is rich in plant protein, low in fat and carbs, and high in minerals. Seitan takes on flavors easily, so it’s a great option for vegan jerky.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are also known for their meaty texture, but they aren’t as rich in protein as seitan, soy and other meat alternatives. Shiitake and portobello mushrooms are the most popular choices for vegan jerky because of their texture.
- Textured Vegetable Protein: While not as popular as other meat alternatives, textured vegetable protein (TVP) can also be used to make jerky. TVP, also known as textured soy protein, is a soy-based product that’s rich in protein, high in fiber and low in fat. It can be flavored to taste just like meat.
These are the main ingredients used to create vegan jerky. Some use a single ingredient, while others use a combination. These are what give the snack its protein and other essential vitamins and minerals.
Other ingredients that may also be used to give jerky flavor, include:
- Natural smoke flavor
- Maple syrup
- Nutritional yeast
- Black pepper
- Soy sauce or liquid aminos
- Hot sauce or cayenne pepper
Some vegan jerky brands offer unique flavors, so these are just a few of the many different flavorings and ingredients that may be used. But one thing you can be sure of is that none of the ingredients in your vegan jerky will be derived from animals.
The Best Vegan Jerky Brands (According to Buyers)
Louisville Vegan Jerky
Louisville Vegan Jerky Co is one of the top-rated and best-selling vegan jerky brands on the market. Their sampler pack gives you a chance to try some of their top flavors, so you can find one (or two) that you love.
All of Louisville Vegan Jerky’s products are:
- Loaded with protein
- Made in the U.S.
- Rich in flavor
- Free of gluten and cholesterol
- Made with non-GMO soy
Their vegan jerky has 21 grams of protein per package and 4 grams of fat per serving. Many of the ingredients in their jerky are locally sourced and organic.
The Louisville vegan jerky sampler pack includes the following flavors:
- Carolina BBQ
- Buffalo Dill
- Maple Bacon
- Smoked Black Pepper
The brand, which was founded in 2012, offers unique flavors. Vegans love Louisville Vegan Jerky Co because they make all of their jerky in small batches using locally-sourced ingredients when possible and by hand.
Primal Spirit Foods Sampler Pack
Primal Spirit is another popular vegan jerky brand, and their sampler pack includes 12 packs of jerky in 6 flavors (2 each). Each package has 1 ounce of jerky.
This sampler includes six of their classic flavors:
- Teriyaki (Seitan)
- Hickory Smoked (Soy)
- Texas BBQ (Soy)
- Hot & Spicy – Sweet & Savory (Shiitake mushrooms)
- Mesquite Lime (Seitan)
- Thai Peanut (Seitan)
Each 1-ounce package of jerky has:
- 10g of plant protein (Hot & Spicy only has 6g)
- 81 calories
- 2g fat
- 11g carbohydrates
- 1g fiber
Primal Spirit’s jerky was voted the Best New Vegan Snack from VegNews and PETA. Their jerky doesn’t have any preservatives or artificial ingredients. The brand has been around for more than 16 years and was founded by people who are passionate about vegetarianism.
Primal Spirit jerky is made with fresh, all-natural ingredients, and they offer a variety of unique and delicious flavors.
Function Jerky Variety Pack
Function Jerky offers affordable, tasty vegan jerky in a variety of flavors. Their sampler pack includes four of their best flavors:
- Sweet BBQ Doux
Function’s jerky includes 14 grams of plant protein for long-lasting energy when you’re on the go or exercising. Their jerky looks just like meat jerky, so no one will ever know that your snack is vegan. You may even get a few friends to convert after they try this jerky. Buyers say that they can’t tell the difference between regular jerky and this vegan jerky.
A feel-good snack, Function’s jerky is free of:
- Trans fat
It has a long shelf life, too, which is rare for any type of jerky. Function’s jerky is great as a mid-day snack or to fuel your next hike.
People love the flavor of this jerky and claim that it tastes just like meat jerky. Function’s sampler pack includes a nice range of flavors, from spicy to mild and traditional. Best of all, this jerky is made of non-GMO soy. If you want a vegan jerky with the chew and look of traditional jerky, Function is a good option.
These are some of the top vegan jerky brands, according to buyers. They offer the texture and flavor of traditional jerky, but without the cruelty. Louisville Vegan Jerky Co tops the list because of their unique flavor offerings, focus on local ingredients and small-batch production. Primal Spirit and Function are great alternatives, and they offer classic jerky flavors.
All three of these brands offer sampler packs, so you can try different flavors and see which ones you like best.
If your budget allows, why not try all three sampler packs? This way, you can try all of the best-rated jerky brands and flavors. If you can’t try all three, consider your flavor preferences and values.
Do you want jerky that is small-batch, hand-crafted or locally sourced?
Or are you more concerned about having jerky with a classic, traditional beef jerky flavor?