Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) was a mainstay of 1970s and 1980s vegetarian cooking, and it’s still commonly available at most natural foods stores. But the stuff has gotten less popular over the years as the quality of vegan meats has improved. That said, TVP remains an excellent way to add some heft to homemade vegan chili, sloppy joe’s, and veggie burgers.
TVP was originally developed, not for the sake of pleasing vegans, but as a cheap way to extend hamburger and other ground meat products. But the stuff caught on in the vegetarian community during the 1970s because, seasoned appropriately, it could be made into dishes that were capable of fooling meat eaters.
As its name implies, TVP is essentially pure protein. The product is made by processing soybeans in a way that removes all fat and carbohydrates. Like tofu (another soy-based ingredient) TVP readily absorbs the flavors of any recipe it’s a part of, making it an extremely versatile cooking ingredient.