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10 Best Vegan Jerky Brands for a Healthy and Satisfying Snack

Plant-based jerky that’s as good as the real deal? Believe it!

best vegan jerky

When you think of jerky, the first image that might come to mind is a dehydrated stick of chewy, reddish, super-processed convenience store meat. In recent years though, jerky has experienced a health makeover with new artisan brands, recipes to try from home, and now a plethora of meat-free options.

Vegan jerky is a healthy on-the-go snack if you are trying to eat a more plant-forward diet or cut out processed meat. It’s a good way to fuel up as you go for a walk, hike, or work out, and the best news is that the flavor is there.

How to choose a healthy and tasty vegan jerky

✔️ Experiment with ingredients. Vegan jerky might be made from fungi, fruit, or other plants, and certain ingredients are better for particular nutritional needs. “If you’re going for a high-protein snack, look for jerky made from soy or seitan (vital wheat gluten),” explains Taylor Wolfram, R.D.N., a dietitian specializing in vegan nutrition. “The fruit and vegetable-based jerkies are low in protein and often low in calories, which means they aren’t going to give you very much energy.”

✔️ Consider flavor and texture. Some jerkies are made to imitate the taste and texture of meat, while others provide similar nutritional benefits. Vegan jerky is great because of the abundance of options, but it helps to know what aspect of jerky you want to imitate. Typically, the mushroom jerkies have a bit more of the chewiness of meat jerky, while fruit-based jerkies capture a close flavor with a less-similar texture.

✔️ Keep your activity in mind. When you eat your vegan jerky, are you taking it on a road trip or counting on it as fuel during a long hike or endurance walk? The nutritional information on the package can guide you on what jerky will work for you: Some vegan jerky has as much protein or more than meat jerky, but others have less. “For energy for endurance activities, you’re going to want higher-calorie jerky,” explains Wolfram. Otherwise, she recommends choosing what you enjoy and what feels good in your body.

      With so many brands on the market, you have plenty of flavor combinations to choose from! These are some great picks for flavor, variety, and brand reliability.

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      Best Overall Flavor
      Louisville Vegan Jerky Smoky Carolina BBQ

      If you’re looking for a fantastic sweet and tangy jerky, Louisville Vegan Jerky’s most popular flavor is Smokey Carolina BBQ. The brand was a trendsetter when they launched in 2012, and today, they still manufacture in small batches, by hand, and with many locally sourced ingredients. 

      Best Jerky Sampler Pack
      Primal Spirit Vegan Jerky Sampler Pack

      Primal Spirit offers a great sampler pack to help you figure out the perfect jerky flavor and texture for you. Their jerky is made with soy, seitan, or non-GMO certified shiitake mushrooms and comes in six different flavors like Hot & Spicy and Texas BBQ. 

      Best Meaty Texture
      NOBLE Jerky Original

      If you’re aiming for a true, meaty texture, look no further than Noble Jerky. This soy-protein jerky is chock-full of protein and a favorite for those who want a close meat substitute. Some customers loved the texture so much that they had to double-check that Noble didn’t accidentally send the real deal! 

      Best Newcomer Jerky
      Moku Hawaiian Teriyaki Jerky

      Oyster mushrooms make a great meat substitute in Moku jerky, an environmentally conscious brand based on the island of O’ahu. Created by two renowned chefs, the Hawaiian Teriyaki flavor is like a taste of O’ahu, and each pack has 7 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.

      Best Fruit Jerky
      Wild Joy Goods Banana Jerky Chipotle Lime

      Banana Jerky may not pack the same protein punch that other vegan jerkies do, but it has no added sugars, gives you a kick of potassium, and is full of potent antioxidants. If you’re not a banana fan, Wild Joy just dropped two new product lines of coconut and mango jerky. 

      Best Sweet and Spicy Pack
      It’s Jerky Y’all Sweet & Spicy Pack
      Now 50% off

      This Texas-based company knows its jerky flavors. It’s Jerky Y’all is a higher calorie jerky that offers bold flavors in their sweet and spicy combo of prickly pear chipotle and teriyaki. If you’re also looking for a socially conscious company, It’s Jerky Y’all donates 10% of all net profits to support Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, which is a cattle ranch-turned-animal rescue. 

      Designed with the Best Technology
      Urban Cowboy Vegan Jerky

      Urban Cowboy claims to be the “Best Plant Based Jerky Ever,” perhaps because they make their vegan products with the help of artificial intelligence. For two years, the company developed and refined its recipe using AI-assisted technology to create a uniquely meaty texture. The underlying umami flavor of the mushroom base complements your choice of sriracha, sweet onion teriyaki, and black pepper.

      Best Reliable Vegan Brand
      Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Jerky

      You may know Gardein for its vegan chicken nuggets and burgers, two tasty options at any meatless Monday roast. Now they have a protein-packed vegan jerky, made from a hardy combination of seitan and soybeans. “This is so good, it should be illegal,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. This jerky is great for both hiking and road trips and has the classic hardwood smokey flavor. While it's filling and delicious, beware if you are sensitive to salt.

      Best Eco Friendly Jerky
      Akua Kelp Jerky Sesame & Nori Sea Salt

      Seaweed is not what you might expect in a vegan jerky, but AKUA has created another fantastic way to enjoy this savory sea vegetable. As vegetable-based jerkies go, their Kelp Jerky does well on the nutritional front with 10 grams of protein and fiber, 97 calories, and plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. AKUA also utilizes a zero-input crop that removes carbon from the ocean!

      Best Multipurpose Jerky
      Sassy Birch BBQ Jerky

      The women at Sassy Birch designed their jerky with variety in mind: You can add it to dishes, cook with it, or simply munch away. This independent, woman-owned-and-operated business uses jackfruit for its jerky, which is surprisingly meaty. As one customer on their site wrote, “I don’t usually even like jackfruit, but this was so good I ate it both as jerky and rehydrated as a slider.”

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