tempeh in a dish

With the ever-growing demand for meat alternatives, many companies have been quick to jump on the plant-based bandwagon. However, not all of these products are created equal. Some are more environmentally friendly than others.

In this article, we explore the benefits of tempeh and why it is a more sustainable choice than other common meat alternatives.

 

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that originates from Indonesia. It is made by culturing soybeans with a rhizopus mold which binds the soybeans into a cake-like form.

soybeans
Soybeans

To make tempeh, soybeans are first soaked in water and then cooked until soft. Once cooked, the soybeans are inoculated with a tempeh starter culture, which typically contains Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae spores. The inoculated beans are then incubated at a temperature of 86-88°F for 24-48 hours, during which time the tempeh will develop its signature white, fuzzy coating.

Tempeh can be made from any type of soybean, but most tempeh on the market is made from white soybeans.

Once fermentation is complete, the tempeh can be steamed or grilled before being eaten. This fermentation process gives tempeh a nutty flavor and firm texture that makes it a great meat alternative.

Tempeh can be used in a variety of dishes, including sandwiches, stews, curries, and stir-fries. It is a good source of protein and provides numerous vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to any diet.

 

Why is Tempeh More Sustainable?

tempeh being served

There are a few reasons why tempeh is more sustainable than other meat alternatives. First of all, tempeh requires less land and water to produce than animal agriculture.

According to one study, producing 1 kilogram of tempeh emits 3.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide while producing 1 kilogram of beef emits 27 kilograms of carbon dioxide. That means that tempeh has a carbon footprint that is nearly 8 times smaller than beef!

In addition to having a smaller carbon footprint, tempeh also requires less water to produce than animal agriculture. The average person requires 2,000 liters of water per day for basic needs such as drinking, cooking, and cleaning. The production of 1 kilogram of beef takes 15,000 liters of water! That means that if everyone in the world ate a vegan diet, we would save enough water to meet the needs of nearly 10 billion people! As a result, tempeh is a more efficient use of resources than meat.

While there are many delicious vegan options available, tempeh is a particularly sustainable choice. Unlike meat, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. Tempeh fermentation not only reduces the amount of soybeans needed, but it also increases the nutritional value of the tempeh. For these reasons, tempeh is a more sustainable alternative to meat.

 

Popular Ways to Prepare and Eat Tempeh

tempeh fries

There are many tempeh products on the market that make great meat alternatives. Some of the most popular tempeh products include:

  • Tempeh bacon: This tempeh product is made by marinating tempeh in a savory blend of spices and then cooking it until crisp. It makes a great vegan alternative to bacon and can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • Tempeh sausage: This tempeh product is made by grinding tempeh and then mixing it with spices and other ingredients to form a sausage-like mixture. It makes a great vegan alternative to sausage and can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • Tempeh ground beef: This tempeh product is made by grinding tempeh and then mixing it with spices and other ingredients to form a ground beef-like mixture. It makes a great vegan alternative to ground beef and can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • Tempeh burgers: These tempeh products are made by grinding tempeh and then mixing it with spices and other ingredients to form burger-like patties. They make great vegan alternatives to burgers and can be used in a variety of dishes.

tempeh meat alternative in a lettuce wrap

Other popular options include:

  • Tempeh Reuben sandwiches
  • Tempeh shepherd’s pie
  • Tempeh tacos
  • Tempeh stir-fries
  • Tempeh chili
  • Tempeh shepherd’s pie
  • Tempeh casseroles
  • Tempeh pizza

With so many delicious tempeh products on the market, it’s easy to find a tempeh meat alternative that you’ll love!

 

Conclusion

Tempeh is a delicious, nutritious, and sustainable meat alternative that should be getting more attention from both consumers and businesses alike.

So next time you’re looking for a plant-based protein option, be sure to give tempeh a try!

Luke is a passionate environmental advocate based in upstate New York. When he's not sharing tips on sustainability and wellness, you can find him hiking with his dog, Max.

1 COMMENT

  1. My friend Jay Ziebart and I made 2 tempeh youtube videos, one was a tempeh sausage and the other a tempeh panini. You can find them on youtube. My late husband Gunter Pfaff and I produced Betsy’s Tempeh in Mich. for 9 1/2 years back in the mid 80’s and I developed several tempeh recipes.

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