Unusual Vegan Foods
You’ve probably come across vegan burgers, hotdogs, cheese, even bacon, by now. But what about some of the stranger and more wondrous things that vegans are known for?!
Let’s start with tofu. We highly recommend checking out our Basic Guide to Tofu, especially if you haven’t cooked with it before. From stir-fries to bacon – there’s a lot you can do with this versatile ingredient.
Another tasty traditional food, that will be familiar to many of our Eastern readers, is tempeh. Made from fermented soybeans, its umami-rich flavor is a must in Tempe Goreng Sambal or Nasi Lemak. But don’t neglect it as a hearty centerpiece in many Western recipes, too! Want to know how good it can be? Check out this short video of Tabitha Brown raving about a ‘TLT’ sandwich!
If you’ve spent any time researching veganism, by now you’ll have heard of nutritional yeast! Known as ‘nooch’ to many, you’ll find almost every vegan cheese recipe calls for it. If you’re not keen on it at first, try adding just a little to a good cheese sauce and increase the amount slowly until you love it as much as we do.
Yeast extract will be familiar to our British and Australian readers (think Marmite and Vegemite), but might not be something the rest of you have tried. We’re afraid this is one of those love it or loathe it foods. But, a little can go a long way – add some to stews, nut roasts, or gravy, for a rich, umami edge that’s hard to replicate. And if you’re in the ‘love it!’ camp? Just spread a little on toast! 😋
You’re sure to have seen seitan by now, even if you didn’t know its name – as veggie burgers, sausages, even fishless filets. Otherwise known as wheat gluten, it’s been made in China since at least the 6th century. And that’s exactly what it is – the gluten (protein) from wheat, so if you have a gluten sensitivity, this is one to avoid. If not, it’s so easy to make your own seitan recipes at home.
Also growing in popularity is jackfruit, the largest fruit in the world. Once ripe, it’s a sweet, tasty treat (Juicy Fruit gum tastes of jackfruit!) But unripe, it’s great in Tacos or as a ‘Pulled’ Sandwich! You can buy it frozen or in cans (make sure it’s not the ripe fruit packed in syrup if you want it for a savory recipe), or, if you’re lucky, you’ll find it fresh.
Finally, something that’s familiar to us old-school vegans: TVP (textured vegetable protein). Back in the ’60s and ’70s, this was often the only meat alternative to be found, but that doesn’t mean we should neglect it now; It’s inexpensive, shelf-stable, and versatile, and usually found as Mince or Nuggets. An honorable mention should also go to Soy Curls, though these aren’t available everywhere. These are less processed than TVP – simply cooked soybeans that have been shredded and dried.
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Did you know that every can of chickpeas comes with an amazing little gift called aquafaba? That’s right, the magic juice obtained from cooking garbanzo beans has a fancy Latin name and multiple uses in a vegan kitchen!
Many people go into veganism worried about all the things they’ll be giving up. But a vegan diet can be the most varied, abundant diet you’ve ever had, with none of your old favorite foods missing.