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.

A block of tofu

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

A plate of tempeh
A plate of tempeh

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.

A jar of nutritional yeast

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! 😋

Yeast extract 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.

A plate of seitan

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.

A jackfruit pulled burger

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.

TVP mince

Have you got the chance to try any of these unusual vegan foods? Or maybe some others, like stinky tofu, aquafaba, or miso paste? Let us know in our supportive Facebook group!

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