Textured Vegetable Protein, better known as TVP, is one of my all-time favorite vegan foods. In addition to each little soy granule being the perfect little sponge for flavor, it has an impressive nutritional profile, and it’s a super inexpensive way to get protein into any meal from breakfast to dinner.
Luckily, you won’t have to go to great lengths to get your hands on some of this versatile protein. No matter your location, you’ll likely have a few places where you can buy TVP, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
Health Food Store or Co-Op
My local food co-op has an impressive section of bulk foods, where you can scoop out cups full of nuts, grains, and dried fruits and score a lower per-pound price than if these goods were already packaged. One of the bins in the store contains a veritable mountain of dry TVP granules.
Buying in bulk is my favorite method of purchasing TVP from any store because I can get exactly the amount that I need.
I appreciate being able to pay rock-bottom prices for something that’s already very inexpensive – I pay less than two bucks per pound (which, considering it’s a dried product, is a huge volume of TVP) in my major metropolitan American city.
The lack of packaging is also friendlier to the environment and means I don’t have to pay the cost to decorate and bag up any packaging.
A plain paper bag offered alongside the bulk bins is the typical option, but some places will let you bring a reusable container for the ultimate green grocery shopping.
Whole Foods – Type Stores
While some regular supermarkets might have a health foods section, you’re best off – and most likely – able to find TVP in the bulk section at a store like Whole Foods.
Don’t let its nickname “Whole Paycheck” scare you away – shopping in the bulk bin at Whole Foods is very economical, and I’ve gotten dry goods here for better prices than my regular grocery store.
TVP is one of those products, and my Whole Foods always has it.
Just for fun, check out the price difference between the TVP in the bulk bin and packaged TVP in the dry goods section and have yourself a laugh at the difference a plastic bag with a logo on it makes.
Much like the bulk section at your health food store or co-op, Whole Foods will provide bags or containers near the bins to put your product in – fill one of those up to the top and bring it home to add cheap protein into your daily menu.
Photo Credit: asianspicemarket.com
If you live in an area with an Indian grocery store, this may be the perfect place to find TVP, which will likely be sold in a box labeled “soya chunks.” I almost always find a box that looks like the one I attached to the right (or above if you’re on mobile).
(In fact, many Indian grocery stores carry a lot of meatless options, so while you’re looking for TVP, be sure to peruse the rest of the aisles too!).
The best part about TVP from Indian groceries is that it is often available in more shapes and sizes than my local supermarket, co-op, or Whole Foods.
While I can get small-granule TVP pretty easily, my local Indian grocer carries not only the small granules but also larger bite-size pieces and strips that are delicious in stew and stir-fry.
These alternate sizes of TVP are usually harder to find in grocery stores and tend to be more expensive online, so if you find them, be sure to stock up!
Online Through Amazon
I buy a lot of my dry goods from Amazon – between the free shipping on many items (or if you have a Prime account) and bulk packages, you can find lots of pantry staples on Amazon for an excellent deal. TVP is no exception to this!
You can pick up a pack of 4 10-oz bags of TVP from Bob's Red Mill on Amazon for under $20 USD – not exactly as good a deal as a local health co-op, but this is also a brand name product, and not everyone has a co-op in a practical distance from where they live.
When it comes to TVP, something is better than nothing!
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to go with this single brand of TVP – you don’t even need to go with plain, unflavored TVP! The best part of shopping for TVP on Amazon is that you can browse different brands, granule sizes, and flavors, rather than having to go with whatever TVP your grocery store or co-op has in stock.
I like buying the unflavored, small-granule TVP because it is the most versatile option, and can go savory or sweet with minimal effort. However, if you’re only interested in using TVP for savory applications like chili or burrito filling, you might want to try the Mother Earth TVP 'Beef' Bits or TVP 'Sausage' Crumbles.
Even with having a co-op and Indian grocer near my house, there are some things I can find on Amazon that I’ve never seen on local shelves. And let’s be honest, the only way window shopping gets better is when you can do it from your house, right?
Despite its strange name, textured vegetable protein isn’t that difficult to find, and if all else fails, you can turn to the internet for your vegan protein needs.
You may find TVP elsewhere – at your local supermarket, for instance – but you can pretty much guarantee to find the product in one of the types of stores above.
A lot of the availability in your area will depend on where you live – like most things; TVP may be a little easier to come by if you live in a more metropolitan area versus somewhere very rural.
But you might be surprised! As vegetarian, vegan, and health-conscious eating seep deeper and deeper into the culture, more things that were once “specialty” products are becoming more widely available.
With so many options to find TVP, you’ll never have to resign yourself to pizza without “sausage” or chili without “beef” again.