We’ve written about many things in our Better Blog from food waste, lupin beans, book recommendations, mental health to anti-racism. We’ve also discussed ways to ‘go green’, the accessibility of veganism and our Belonging Framework. Naturally, we’ve also talked about tempeh but it’s been a while since we’ve taken a deep dive into this superstar’s credentials. So, in this post we’re letting tempeh take centre stage again. Without further ado, let’s take a look at tempeh and some of the reasons why we love it so much.
1. It’s plant-based
Plant-based foods are taking the world by the storm and rightly so: according to a study published in the journal Science in 2018, avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.*
Fortunately, nowadays you can walk into almost any shop and find at least one meat alternative - and we’re not talking about dried beans or lentils here (although they are great!). Both the familiar pulses and tofu, as well as the new(er) kids on the block, such as processed meat substitutes, certainly have their place in the market and on our plates, but tempeh is deserving of our attention, too. In fact, we believe that tempeh, the all-natural plant-based protein originating in Indonesia, has all the qualities needed to become one of the world’s leading protein sources.
2. It’s all-natural
Tempeh (pronounced tem-pay) was originally discovered in Java Island in Indonesia over 300 years ago. Its production involves cooking and fermenting soybeans (or any other legume, nut, grain or seed) to transform them into an all-natural meaty block that is packed with protein, fibre and vital micronutrients. Through the tempeh fermentation process, the substrate’s protein content increases, fat content decreases and the nutrients in the substrate become far more easily absorbed by the body. As an example, fermenting soybeans into tempeh increases the protein absorbed by the body by 25%, and this even rises to 87% in buckwheat groat tempeh.
3. It’s super nutritious
Tempeh is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all of the 9 essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body and that we need to get from food. Tempeh has the same protein content per 100g as cod and mackerel and more than that of eggs. It has 2-4 times the fibre of an apple per 100g and counts as one of your five a day. It is all-natural, minimally-processed and packed with micronutrients like iron and calcium.
Not only is tempeh made with natural ingredients and extremely nutritious, it is also super versatile and easy to cook with (there is no shortage of easy tempeh recipes!). Tempeh has a meaty, firm texture and absorbs flavours very well, so you can really experiment with different marinades, sauces and spice mixes. It can be cooked in many ways so it is well suited for numerous dishes and cuisines. Whether you bake, grill, steam or fry it - cooked tempeh has a rich, meaty bite and is the perfect addition to almost any dish from stir-fries and curries to tacos, wraps and pasta dishes. What a delicious and nutritious way to add a punch of protein and fibre to any meal!
4. It’s very sustainable
It’s not just its taste, versatility and nutritional profile that make tempeh a great protein source. It’s also a much more sustainable option compared to meat. Soy tempeh creates 94% less CO2 emissions than beef, 78% less than pork and 62% less than chicken. The protein it provides per kilogram of CO2 emitted is approximately 93% higher than beef, 77% higher than pork and 64% higher than chicken. It also uses less water and land than meat, as the beans are fed directly to humans rather than being fed to animals first.
5. Its future is bright
More and more people are looking for ways to reduce their reliance on animal products and to incorporate more plant-based meals into their week without compromising on taste or nutrition. Going through tempeh’s credentials it seems to us that tempeh might very well be exactly what they are looking for. We truly see tempeh as the future of the plant-based industry and are so excited to keep innovating with this incredible food! We believe that the potential of tempeh fermentation to transform the meat-free market is nearly limitless, and we can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store for us and for tempeh. Thank you for being on this journey with us!
* Of course, going plant-based isn’t the only way to reduce your emissions and negative impact on the environment and there are many other factors to consider but, nevertheless, reducing the consumption of animal products can make a big difference.
Resources used and not linked in the post:
- Stodolak, B. & Starzynska-Janiszewska, A. The influence of tempeh fermentation and conventional cooking on anti-nutrient level and protein bioavailability (in vitro test) of grass-pea seeds. J. Sci. Food Agric. 88, 2265–2270 (2008).
- Wronkowska, M., Christa, K., Ciska, E. & Soral-Śmietana, M. Chemical Characteristics and Sensory Evaluation of Raw and Roasted Buckwheat Groats Fermented by R hizopus Oligosporus. Journal of Food Quality 38, 130–138 (2015)