Tempeh is a fermented food that originates from Indonesia.  It is often made with soybeans, but it can also be made using other types of beans and grains. Tempeh is made by a natural culturing process followed by controlled incubation that binds the beans and/or grains into firm blocks (or into other shapes like burger patties or sausage like rolls). Tempeh’s fermentation process ensures the retention of the whole bean – making it a whole, “live” food. In comparison to tofu, tempeh is unprocessed and offers even more protein. 


In fact, it’s hard to beat tempeh as a protein source soy tempeh, for example, contains 19.5% protein, compared with 17.9% for hamburger and 21% for chicken, on average (source below).


​​​It’s good quality protein, too. The entirely natural process of binding the beans and/or grains through fermentation breaks down the proteins of these foods into simple amino acids that the body can easily assimilate.

Tempeh is low in fat, high in fiber, and provides significant amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin A, and the B-complex vitamins, notably riboflavin and niacin. It is often claimed that tempehs’ nutrients help prevent degenerative illnesses, lower cholesteral and hypertension, and even slow the aging process. Tempeh research is ongoing, and more and more information about its benefits will come to light in the coming years. What seems certain however, is that tempeh is one of the most healthy choices of all plant-based meat substitutes.

The benefits of Ministry of Cultures’ Tasty Tempeh include:


  • Live cultures make its vitamins and proteins more digestible

  • Promotes the diversity of bacteria and yeast in our bodies which are  essential for immunity and digestion

  • Full of high-quality protein, vitamins and fiber

  • Low in saturated fat, no cholesterol

  • Excellent source of iron

  • Great source of magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese

  • Low in calories

  • Gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan

  • Versatile and easy to cook

  • More nutritious than other processed meat substitutes including tofu

  • Superior in flavor and nutritional content to commercial tempeh

  • Low CO2 emissions during production

The origins of tempeh are a bit mysterious.  It originated on the Indonesian island of Java, and the earliest known reference is from 1815, though it is likely that may have been widely consumed as early as the 16th century. The west first became fascinated by tempeh during WWII when it was widely consumed by Dutch prisoners-of-war in the detention camps run by the Japanese occupiers of Indonesia. It is credited with saving the lives of many sick prisoners who were not able to digest regular soy but could assimilate the more easily digestable protein in the fermented soybeans of tempeh.  It continues to be widely consumed across Indonesia and is often called the “poor man’s meat”.


Source of protein data:

(History of Tempeh - Page 1 by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

,A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s
©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, California)