Eat Smart · Get Well

The Guinea Pig: Meatless Beef Jerky

by Amanda Waltz, blogger


Jerky is a manly food. It’s the food of cowboys, hunters and truckers all looking for a source of protein that never seems to expire. And why doesn’t it expire? Because just like them, it doesn’t quit. It will sustain you whether you like it or not.

But thanks to the food revolution, this leathery, all-American, Ford-tough symbol of masculinity has undergone some changes in the last decade. Now you can find all-natural gourmet jerky that’s free of all the unhealthy sodium nitrites, preservatives and MSG familiar to the beefy junk food. The dried slabs are also being made with leaner white meats, like turkey. And, of course, some are being made with no meat at all, giving vegetarians and vegans a chance to gnaw away!

Primal Strips – Meatless Vegan Jerky, $2-3 for 1 oz. package

Traditionally,  jerky comes in many flavors: Smokehouse, teriyaki and barbecue. There’s even caffeinated beef jerky for those who want a pick-me-up that’s also hard to chew. Primal Strips are no different, as they come in a surprisingly broad range. The single-serve strips are made with either soy, seitan or shitake and come in tasty varieties like Thai Peanut, Mesquite Lime and Texas BBQ. Besides being low in fat and high in protein, the products are also gluten free and made with naturally processed, non-GMO ingredients.

I tried all of the seitan strips, often taking them on long car trips or to class for a quick between meal nosh. For those who love the rough, jaw-straining power of beef jerky might find their texture a bit off-putting at first. They’re not nearly as chewy and have a quality similar to really tender chicken. But in taste, they resemble meat pretty closely, a quality further enhanced by some unique flavorings. Sweet and nutty, the Thai Peanut is reminiscent of pad thai, while the Mesquite Lime reminds me of a steak fajita with a spritz of citrus. No matter what you prefer, Primal Strips has something to satisfy any appetite.

The Verdict: Delicious, with lots of options to chose from!