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Diets that are heavy on plants—and skimpy on meat—are lighter on the planet.

That’s why restaurants are scrambling to add plant-based versions of beef, pork, and chicken to their menus.

If you’re also in more-plants mode but are searching for a change of pace—something to jazz up your tofu, beans, and veggie meat rotation at home—say hello to tempeh.

Like tofu, tempeh (TEM-pay) is soy. But tofu, which is softer and milder, starts with soymilk. Tempeh starts with cultured whole cooked soybeans (and sometimes grains), which bind together and firm up as they ferment. The result is nutty, hearty, and pleasantly chewy.

Brands like Lightlife and Tofurky are easy to find.

Try crumbling some to make ground “meat” or “croutons.” Tempeh tacos or bolognese, anyone?

Or cube or slice some into thin strips or triangles, then marinate and sauté until golden brown. Mmm.

The payoff: A 3 oz. serving of Lightlife Organic Original Tempeh (it’s made with added brown rice, which means a crispier sauté) delivers 18 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber for just 160 calories.

And since we’re talking soy, expect a decent dose of magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, iron, and healthy fat.

“Meet tofu’s weird-but-cool cousin,” says Tofurky’s website.

Welcome to the family!—(800) 769-3279—(800) 508-8100

Photo: Lightlife.