Sloppy Joe – With No Meat!

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was in my mom’s kitchen as she suspiciously gave me a sandwich to eat. She kept grinning with that, “I’ve got a secret,” look on her face as I ate it.

“What do you think? Do you notice anything different about it?” she asked with anticipation.

I struggled to come up with something. “It’s good. It has some chopped vegetables in it. Is it green pepper?”

“It’s got peppers and onions in it, but that’s not what makes it different,” she said. There was a long pause as I took a few more bites. “There’s no meat in it!” she declared.

I looked at the half-eaten sandwich in my hands as if worms suddenly started crawling out of it. “What is it then?”

“It’s TVP,” she said as she presented a bag that looked like some kind of cereal.

Mom had gotten the recipe from one of her co-workers at the hospital and wanted to try it out on me. Until that day, I had never heard of “textured vegetable protein”. And while Mom was about as far from vegetarianism as one could get, she seemed especially pleased that she was able to completely pull a fast on her “know it all” son. I honestly could not tell that it wasn’t meat.

This is actually a very easy recipe, and I’m fortunate to live close to a health food store that sells bulk “Tex Veg Pro”. This stuff is actually quite cheap compared to ground beef, so even if you’re a dyed in the wool carnivore, you’ll appreciate the money you save.

Meatless Sloppy Joe


  • 1 Cup diced Green Bell Pepper.
  • 1 Cup diced Onion.
  • 1 Cup Textured Vegetable Protein. (AKA TVP, AKA Tex Veg Pro)
  • 3/4 Cup Ketchup
  • 1/2 Cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce

Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, and soy sauce. Stir it well and set the sauce aside.

Into a large frying pan, sauté the onions and peppers with a bit of cooking oil until they start to soften. Toss in the TVP, and keep stirring until the granules go from a pale tan to a darker tan. Once it darkens and the TVP smells toasted, dump in the sauce and stir it in completely. Put a lid on the pan, and let it simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid, give it a little more heat, and while stirring, let it reduce to the proper consistency for sloppy joes.

Serve on your favorite bun or roll.


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