Our ancestors preserved meat for obvious reasons—food was scarce, winters were long, and traveling required portable food that was compact and long-lasting. For these reasons, jerky was a staple long before paleo dieters made it the snack trend it is today. However, today, the jerky market also contributes to a livestock industry that’s bad for our health, the planet, and animals. Here’s why it’s time to switch to plant-based jerky, which, it turns out, is just as satisfying and delicious as the animal version.
What is plant-based jerky?
First eaten by ancient civilizations, jerky refers to thin, lightweight strips of dried, salted meat. Usually made with beef, it’s still a popular snack today. In fact, the jerky industry is predicted to hit a global market value of $6.5 billion by 2027.
But there are other ways to make jerky that don’t involve farming animals. As you’ll see on the list below, today a number of plant-based brands are using ingredients like mushrooms, fruits, and soy to make jerky products. Because, while consumers might think of animals as the only “meaty” option for jerky-making, the terrestrial and marine plant kingdoms offer much more variety, flavor, and textures because, of course, anything animal-based foods can do, plants can do better.
For the vegan jerky category, the proof is in the chew. With this in mind, we’re highlighting 18 innovative vegan jerkies that we believe could potentially upend traditional animal-based jerky sales.
Vegan jerky brands
Pick up one of these vegan jerkies the next time hunger strikes.
1 It’s Jerky Y’all
Inspired by local Texan flavors and ingredients, this jerky is made using organic soybeans and also features chipotle peppers and the region’s famous cactus pears. Flavors include Black Pepper & Sea Salt, Prickly Pear Teriyaki, and Prickly Pear Chipotle. The best part? Portions from each bag sold benefit Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, a cattle ranch turned vegan farm animal sanctuary.
2 The Herbivorous Butcher
The Herbivorous Butcher’s chewy and flavorful jerky is seitan-based and comes in three flavors: Teriyaki Jerky, Sizzlin’ Cajun Jerky, and Salt ‘n Peppa Jerky. “Frankly,” Kale Walch, The Herbivorous Butcher co-founder says, “I think ours is more flavorful and the texture is spot on. Some people may not like that ours is a more realistic texture, but different strokes for different folks.”
3 Noble Jerky
Gourmet-crafted, Noble Jerky is made using soy protein resulting in a chewy, smoky taste that’s high in protein. Vegans and omnivores alike are sure to enjoy the authentic taste of the line’s Sweet BBQ, Chipotle, Teriyaki, Hickory, and Original flavors.
Lily’s Vegan Pantry
New York City’s premiere vegetarian meat seller turned all-vegan grocer offers vegan jerkies made with Japanese konjac root (similar to sweet potato), wheat, or soy. All varieties come in several different flavors, including spicy, teriyaki, and vegan bacon.
5 Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.
With flavors such as Maple Bacon, Smokey Carolina BBQ, and the limited-edition, small-batch Jamaican Jerk, this non-GMO textured soy protein-based jerky is all chew and full of flavor.
Primal Spirit Foods Primal Strips
These individually-wrapped jerkies are comprised of soy, seitan, and shiitake mushrooms. Flavors such as Thai peanut and Texas BBQ make for a perfect portable snack for traveling, hiking, or keeping in your bag for snack emergencies.
Pan’s Mushroom Jerky/Instagram
Pan’s Mushroom Jerky
Backed by Shark Tank billionaire Mark Cuban, this vegan jerky is made of shiitake mushrooms for a savory snack rich in umami. Flavors include Original, Zesty Thai, Applewood BBQ, Salt & Pepper, Teriyaki, and Curry. Stock up for your next road trip!
Don’t let the fancy spelling fool you! These single-serve “jerquees” are equal parts meaty, chewy, and savory.
9Foreal Foods Coconut Jerky
Coconut doesn’t just lend itself to milk, water, ice cream, and cheese, as it’s a natural jerky, too. To make the transformation, young coconut meat is marinated and dehydrated for an addictively healthy jerky.
10Moku Foods Plant-Based Jerky
Crafted by world-renowned chefs, Moku Foods’ plant-based jerkies are nothing short of delicious. Made in three signature flavors (Original, Hawaiian Teriyaki, and Sweet & Spicy), this meatless jerky owes its meaty bite to mushrooms. Plus, 1% of every purchase is donated to a nonprofit of your choice.
11BeLeaf Vegan Jerky
Famous for their fan-favorite vegan fried egg, BeLeaf’s line of plant-based jerky is another must-have for any vegan pantry. Made using soybean protein, the company offers flavors like Spicy, Wasabi, and Original.
12 Beyond Meat Jerky
The masterminds behind the world-famous Beyond Burger are now whipping up vegan jerky. Made from peas and mung bean protein, flavors include Original, Hot & Spicy, and Teriyaki.
13Eat the Change Mushroom Jerky
Co-founded by Top Chef alumn Spike Mendelsohn, Eat the Change creates chewy vegan jerky using mushrooms sustainably sourced from a Pennsylvania-based family farm. Bruised and oversized mushroom stems—which wouldn’t normally make it to grocery store shelves—are marinated in a spice blend and smoked for a plant-based jerky you’ll want again and again.
14UniSoy Vegan Jerky
With a whopping six flavors, there’s a UniSoy Vegan Jerky to satisfy every craving. Whether you opt for Cracked Pepper, Hot ‘n Spicy, Teriyaki, Carne Asada, Habanero, or Smoky Chipotle, each bag packs a punch of flavor.
15Country Archer Provisions Plant-Based Jerky
Between BBQ, Teriyaki, and Spiced Bacon flavors, this vegan-friendly brand delivers when it comes to plant-based jerky. King oyster mushrooms lend their tender texture to this classic snack.