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Beyond Tofu: Four Tasty, Vegan Alternatives to Soy

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Beyond Tofu: Four Tasty, Vegan Alternatives to Soy

It’s really easy to fall into the soy trap when you’re eating vegan. There are soy substitutes for everything: meat, milk, ice cream, even cheese! Before you know it, there’s a little bit (or a lot!) of soy in every meal. While small amounts of soy probably aren’t a problem, a diet too rich in soy products is linked to a long list of health concerns. Soy farming is also responsible for deforestation in large areas of the Amazon.

Luckily, vegans don’t have to rely on soy as a dietary staple! There are lots of delicious, soy-free options to fill your plate.


You can replace the tofu in a lot of recipes with an equal amount of seitan. Rather than a bean curd, seitan is a dough made from vital wheat gluten and seasoning. It’s delicious in soups, salads, stir fries, and even in sandwiches! Seitan has a chewier texture than tofu, which means it doesn’t need pressing or freezing before you cook with it!

It can be a little pricey to purchase seitan at the store, but it’s actually really easy to make at home. All you need is a box of vital wheat gluten, which most grocery stores stock in the flour aisle. Here’s a basic recipe for home made seitan. Once you get the hang of making it, you can mix up the spices to suit all sorts of different dishes! For a little seitan inspiration, check out Vegan Dad’s Seitan Roast with Wild Rice and Chestnut Stuffing.


Tofu or tempeh are often at the center of vegan cooking, but beans can totally fill in as protein superstars! Whether you’re looking for a tasty sandwich filling, dip, or a little more protein for your meal, beans are pretty much ideal. Combine your beans with a whole grain or some nuts, and you’ve got a whole protein that’s just as nutritious as any meat you could put on your plate!

If you want to keep it simple, beans and rice or quinoa make a quick, delicious, filling meal. You can go more elaborate, too, and make a bean “meat” loaf, like the recipes in Jennifer McCann’s Magical Loaf Studio! The Loaf Studio is a great meal-planning tool, and the results are always stellar. Just plug in items you have on hand for each of the categories, and you’re ready to make a super-tasty main dish with no soy in sight!

Next: How to make creamy vegan ice cream and cheese without soy

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!


+ add your own
7:51PM PDT on May 9, 2014

If seitan comes from a box...isn't that then a "processed food"!? & wheat gluten causes a lot of sensitivities in the gastrointestinal tract...I think I'll stick to tempeh & miso

2:58AM PDT on Aug 16, 2013

Good to know

12:17AM PDT on Apr 14, 2013


12:09AM PDT on Apr 14, 2013

For many who are allergic to soy, this is a great alternative

8:04PM PDT on Mar 17, 2013


12:25PM PST on Jan 6, 2013

thanks so much for this, as a vegan with celiac and a soy allergy I definitely have problems finding a substitute when a recipe calls for tofu! I'll have to check on a rice version of seitan (if such a thing exists! ) .

3:54AM PDT on Jul 7, 2012


5:09AM PDT on Oct 19, 2011


5:20AM PDT on Oct 11, 2011

Like Adrian says, it is getting more difficult to eat healthy. It is hazardous to be a non-vegetarian or a vegan (like me). Choices are getting more limited.

11:45AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011


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