All food items, at some point, cease to become “just food” and turn into things that evoke memories instead. For me, the word “jerky” brings to mind images of road trips and movie nights in with friends.
When you adopt a vegan lifestyle, giving up certain things might be hard. Because it often feels like you’re giving up the memories and rituals, too.
But, what if I told you that you didn’t have to do that? The answer lies in plant-based jerky. Yes, vegan jerky exists, and it comes in delicious flavors, too.
Here are some of the best vegan jerky brands out there for you to enjoy!
My Favorite Plant-Based Jerky Brands
Meatless jerky that is healthy, tasty, and cruelty-free? Yes, please! Here are some of the best vegan jerky products on the market.
Louisville Vegan Jerky comes in five different flavors for you to enjoy, including the smokey Carolina BBQ, smoked black pepper, and maple bacon. Don’t let the names fool you. They are all completely meat free!
They are savory, salty, sweet, and gluten-free. Each packet contains a lot of protein. Handmade in small batches with locally sourced and organic ingredients, this vegan jerky has a great texture and makes for the perfect snack!
Do you like the taste of spicy teriyaki? Unisoy has got that and more!
This vegan jerky comes in many spicy flavors and contains the most grams of protein per packet (21 grams).
It also has no cholesterol. A perfect protein-rich snack to satisfy the odd craving or two during the day.
Sold by the brand “All Y’alls Foods” this vegan jerky is made locally in Texas and all of their flavors are inspired by the state. It has a chewy texture, and tastes just like the real thing! Each whole bag contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients you need, making it a relatively healthy snack.
The best part about ‘It’s Jerky Y’all” is that the brand is socially conscious. A portion of each sale goes towards supporting the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary in Texas. This cattle ranch turned vegan sanctuary houses the largest herd of rescued cows in the state of Texas.
Other than the prickly pear chipotle, there is also the prickly pear teriyaki and the black pepper and sea salt flavors. You also get 7 grams of protein per serving. Yum!
Voted “the best new vegan snack” by PETA, this plant-based jerky tastes like the famous shiitake mushrooms from which it hails. With each of the Primal strips, you get a yummy hot, spicy, and savory taste along with many health benefits like an immunity boost! A great snack to have on the go.
Primal Spirit also has other classic flavors such as thai peanut, mesquite lime, texas BBQ, hickory smoked, and teriyaki. Don’t forget to taste these, too!
Do you like your vegan jerky with a dash of sweetness? If you’re nodding furiously, Noble Jerky is perfect for you!
They use vegan evaporated cane sugar and natural seasonings, and they pack a lot of protein into each packet.
Its meaty texture is spot on, and might have your meat-eating friends mistaking this for the real deal.
This one is for all the vegans (like me) who like their snacks hot and spicy.
Each spicy pack contains black pepper and chili powder, so you will get your kick of spice with each bite! The flavors explode in your mouth.
This vegan jerky is more than just spicy, it also has a great texture, too.
This variety pack comes with eight different flavors of vegan jerky.
As one would expect from a variety box, the ingredients vary, with the range including bases such as soy, seitan, and ripe fruits.
That’s right, fruits!
This makes for some unique flavors, with favorites including banana and organic fruit jerky. Sweet and savory. This box is jam packed with perfect vegan road trip snacks to share with friends.
What Is Vegan Jerky Made Of?
Not all vegan jerky is created equal. Different brands and flavors call for different ingredients. Some vegan jerkys are made specifically to imitate the flavor and texture of beef jerky. These are usually made from soy or seitan (vital wheat gluten).
Many meaty fruits and vegetables (such as bananas, jackfruits, eggplants, and watermelon) are also commonly used ingredients. Depending on the parent ingredient, meatless jerky is often rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fibers. Other types of jerky include mushroom and coconut jerky (which is made using coconut meat).
These are then dehydrated and flavored with spices and other seasonings (such as sea salt, paprika, black pepper, maple syrup, and many more).
Is Vegan Jerky Healthy?
Since vegan jerky is made from plants (without any meat), it is often mistaken to be a health food. It isn’t, but it is healthier than beef jerky because, unlike meat, it doesn’t contain anywhere near as much cholesterol or saturated fat.
Vegan jerky can also contain high levels of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, giving you a boost of energy. More reasons why it is definitely the healthier alternative.
Remember, however, that doesn’t mean it’s completely healthy by itself.
Even though it is vegan, plant-based jerky is still a processed food and they usually contain very high levels of sodium, which is bad for you. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and put you at risk of heart disease and stroke. Meatless jerky usually contains more than its fair share of added sugars, too.
Bottom line: Veggie jerky is healthier than real jerky, but still contains excessive salt and sugar, so it should be consumed in moderation.
What Happened To Pan’s Mushroom Jerky?
Pan’s Mushroom Jerky was featured on Season 6 Episode 12 of Shark Tank. Michael Pan, the owner of Pan’s Jerky, accepted a deal of $300,000 for 18% of the company from Mark Cuban back in 2020.
This catapulted the sales of the jerky, with the entire inventory of the jerky being sold out within a week of Michael Pan’s Shark Tank appearance! In just 24 hours after the episodes aired, the company had made over $650,000 in sales. This number increased to $1 million in 4 days!
Phew! Those are quite some numbers. So, Pan’s Mushroom Jerky is still in business and thriving. The only reason I didn’t include it here is simply because I personally prefer other brands.
However, I encourage you all to try it out and see for yourselves. You can purchase it here. They have four different flavors available and this link will take you to their variety pack which contains all of them.
What Does Mushroom Jerky Taste Like?
Speaking of which, what does mushroom jerky taste like?
It tastes like… well, mushrooms.
Mushrooms have a natural umami flavor, which is definitely reflected in the jerky. It has a fleshy and chewy texture which is similar to that of beef, but not quite. If you like mushrooms, this will be a great snack to munch on.
Mushroom jerky doesn’t taste at all like beef, so if you want to eat this type of jerky, you have to be a mushroom fan. It has a very unique earthy flavor. If you’re not going to dig that (excuse the pun), then you should probably pass on these.
Meat-Free Jerky For Vegans…Done!
There you go! Now you know about some of my personal favorite vegan jerky brands. And they taste like the real thing, too. Share this with your friends and then go enjoy some delicious vegan jerky with them!
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About The Author:
Rupali Jeganathan, a passionate environmentalist, has over 5 years of writing experience under her belt.
Being an enthusiastic and happy vegan herself, she is always looking for ways to share tips and information with others who share the same lifestyle.
- Harvard School of Public Health | Salt and Sodium | https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/
- Shark Tank Tales | Pan’s Mushroom Jerky Shark Tank Business | https://sharktanktales.com/pans-mushroom-jerky-shark-tank-update/