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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Tofu used to scare me. The first time I saw someone eating it, I was repulsed by the odd, squishy texture. I went vegetarian in 2019 and was still appalled by tofu. During quarantine living with my parents, my dad became a vegetarian and started experimenting with meat substitutes. I tried one of his tofu recipes and did not hate it. I did some research of my own, found some recipes I thought I might enjoy and discovered the extensive health benefits tofu had.

When I moved back to campus, I bought some teriyaki tofu and pan-fried it until it was crispy. It tasted great, and I realized I just needed to find recipes appealing to me. Now I buy tofu every time I go to the grocery store and can’t say enough good things about it. Here are three reasons why you should try tofu.

The Health Benefits

Tofu is made from soybeans and provides the same protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber meat does, without the cholesterol and saturated fat. Tofu is a great source of protein for vegans, vegetarians and anyone who wants to lower their risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. For each 100 calorie serving, tofu has 11 grams of protein. Compare this to ground beef which has about nine grams of protein per 100 calories.

Not eating meat, even for one day a week, is better for your overall heart health and can extend your life a few years. Some argue genetically modified soybeans, which some tofu is made from, can have a negative impact on your health. There has not been any solid research found to support this claim, but if you are concerned about GMOs, opt for an organic tofu brand. Overall, the health benefits are immense and worth giving tofu a try as an alternative to typical protein sources. 

It’s Inexpensive

Meat, most people’s typical daily source of protein, is usually the biggest contributor to the grocery bill. If you are on a budget or a college student trying to save money, like me, buying less meat can be a great way to spend less. Buying plain tofu is relatively cheap and a good way to get your daily protein intake.

Tofu sits around two dollars per pound, as opposed to three or four dollars per pound of the meat you choose to buy. Similar to how eating less meat is better for the environment, buying less meat is good for your wallet. 

It’s Versatile

Tofu is a bland protein base you have to add flavor to in order to make it taste good. It can go with any dinner or meal. I eat tofu with pasta, fried rice, in buddha bowls, in a saladin a scramble for breakfast or as a side dish. In my experience, you get the best flavor by marinating diced tofu in any combination of sauces for a few hours prior to cooking it.

It is also best to buy firm tofu from the store and press all the liquid out of it before you proceed. I like to pan sear my tofu or bake it until it gets crispy. I have read you can even make tofu into chicken nuggets or steak, but I have yet to try those techniques out. There are many recipes on the internet to cater to any flavor/texture preferences you have and make your tofu taste amazing.   

The health benefits, price and versatility of tofu make it an ideal staple to keep in your fridge. The flavorless block turns into a great addition to any meal if you prepare it correctly. I encourage you to try tofu at least once, or if you are already on the bandwagon, try a new way to cook it! 

Maddie Quigley is a political science major with a minor in media studies. She is a vegetarian, plant-lover, avid reader and she enjoys talking politics.
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