The only way to do this was a scientific taste test. I cut pieces off each strip and called in Tony, the jerky eater in our household, to help out and give his opinion.
As soon as I cut open the packages, Monster assumed his begging position (huge pleading eyes, tongue of sadness) and didn't move until the testing was over. Clearly, he thought this jerky was the real thing.
The verdict: we liked the Hot & Spicy and Thai Peanut flavors best. The Hot & Spicy tasted like pepperoni, with a good amount of fennel. It's not hot while you're eating it, but you feel the heat afterwards. The Thai Peanut tastes exactly like its name, peanutty and exotic. It also had my favorite texture -- very tough and leathery. I can see myself snacking on both of these in the future.
Tony also enjoyed the Hickory Smoked and Texas BBQ flavors. Both had strong sweet and smoky notes. They were a little strong for me. He said that the Hickory Smoked had the most realistic "meat" flavor and texture, and he would be happy if I bought more of that kind.
The Mesquite Lime was our least favorite. It was pretty sour. We didn't really dig the Teriyaki either, but Monster made it disappear.
I was afraid of the amount of sodium I would be ingesting during this taste test, but really, these vegan strips have a lot less sodium than regular beef jerky -- about 15% of your daily RDA per strip. They also contain between 6-11 grams of protein (depending on flavor) and are free of preservatives and artificial colors. So, overall, not a bad snack! I also thought it was interesting that they are made from different things -- seitan, soy, or in the case of the Hot & Spicy flavor, shiitake mushrooms. So if you have a soy or wheat allergy, there are still flavors you can enjoy.
Thanks, Celyn, for this great giveaway -- I'm glad I got the chance to try vegan jerky!