Textured soy protein, commonly referred to simply as “TSP” in the food and culinary industries, is a food product often used as a meat substitute in dishes made for vegetarians or when meat is not available. Textured vegetable protein or “TVP” is a term commonly used synonymously with “textured vegetable protein”. The product is often sold in flakes or pieces and is used as a substitute in various dishes. For example, it often replaces meat when it’s used in sandwiches like veggie burgers or sloppy Joes. It can also be used in red sauce to create a vegetarian meat sauce for pasta dishes.
While soy is an excellent source of dietary protein, meat contains more protein per gram.
The main ingredient in textured soy protein is a type of soy flour. Since soy flour is much cheaper than meat, it is a low-cost substitute. Some school lunch programs used textured soy protein in their menus to provide a source of protein while keeping costs down. For similar reasons, textured soy protein is often used in correctional facilities. The types of textured soy proteins that are used in schools and prisons are often fortified with vitamins and minerals to make their nutritional value equivalent to the meat they are replacing.
A vegan diet does not include any animal by-products, including milk, cheese and other dairy products.
Some supermarkets sell textured soy protein, but it is most commonly used in industrial cooking and is therefore sold in bulk. There are, however, many types of packaged foods sold in many supermarkets that rely on textured soy protein as a main ingredient. An example is veggie burgers for breakfast. Some health food stores sell textured soy protein in pre-packaged containers or for bulk purchase.
There is considerable debate about the potentially adverse effects of soy.
Many people who maintain a kosher diet have found textured soy protein to be a very useful product. That’s because a kosher kitchen requires the separation of meat and dairy, both in recipes and in cooking utensils. TSP is a great resource because it can easily replace meat by combining meat with dairy. Traditional lasagna, for example, is not a kosher dish if it is made with meat sauce, as one of the main components of the dish is a cheese topping. If the sauce is made with TSP, however, it can be paired with cheese, keeping the dish kosher.