The vegan diet has been gaining quite a following lately. This is a result of more people trying to eat healthy. Cutting down animal products can be beneficial for your personal health as well as the environment. By eating vegan meals, you help reduce the carbon emissions and resources needed to raise livestock.
Vegans omit any and all animal based food products from their diet. These include grease, meats, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs. Many may think this means eating bland vegetables all day. However, this isn’t exactly true. If you want to start a vegan diet, there are plenty of delicious food options available.
Here are some vegan foods that are actually worth a try:
1. Vegan Cheese
Vegan cheese is made of various plant based products and the recipe differs from producer to producer. The most common ingredients include soy protein, vegetable oil solids, crushed nuts, tapioca flour and dried yeast. In most cases, they’re made to taste exactly like real cheese. They even have a similar texture and can be used just like cheese made from milk.
2. Egg Replacement
Food company Follow Your Heart has recently released a vegan egg replacement that’s made of algal flour and algal protein. So basically, these ‘eggs’ are made from algae, which are simple cellular plants which often grow in lakes and over rocks.
The texture of these vegan eggs are so similar to the real thing that they can be fried into omelettes, scrambled with margarine and added as ingredients in cakes and pastry.
Tofurkey, as you may have guessed, is a combination of the words ‘tofu’ and ‘turkey’. It’s a meat substitute that is primarily made from tofu, the solids of soy milk. Tofurkey has caught on in a big way among vegans. This may be due to the fact that it’s pretty tasty.
Tofurkey can be made at home using tofu that’s flavored with various herbs and spices. It’s usually stuffed with fruits and grains just like a real roast turkey. Tofurkey is commonly eaten by vegans during the holiday season in place of roasted chicken, turkey or beef.
4. Fake Pulled Pork
Meat eaters may laugh at the idea that anything else can replace real bacon, but vegans are truly getting the last laugh here. In this completely plant based invention, young Jackfruit is used in place of meat and its cooked with barbecue sauce.
The resulting mix is usually eaten in a sandwich or a bun, and is great for cookouts and picnics. Many who’ve tried this recipe actually say that the young Jackfruit is almost indistinguishable from real pulled pork, except that the texture is slightly softer.
Tempe is a dish that originates from Indonesia. It’s made from soybeans that have been washed and processed. The soybeans are then allowed to ferment with a fungi called Rhizopus. The fungus grows over the soybeans creating a firm cake. Tempe is a very versatile ingredient and a very rich source of protein for vegans.
It’s delicious when coated in batter and deep fried, or added to soups and stews. Tempe can soak up flavour very easily, and by itself it has a deep savory flavor that’s enhanced when cooked. In Indonesia and its neighboring countries, tempe is eaten with rice and other vegetables by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
6. Vegan Chicken Drumsticks
They look exactly like chicken drummets and are best eaten when baked or fried. Although they’re widely available commercially, you can also make this at home. The basic recipe is simple. These vegan chicken drumsticks are actually bean curd sheets wrapped around a bamboo stick. Sometimes, you can also wrap them around lemongrass stalks for that extra ‘zing’ to its flavor.
Vegan drumsticks taste amazing on their own, or they can also be marinated in a sauce before cooking. Some people add a glaze to it in a two step method, which is wonderful too.
7. Butternut Squash Pasta
If you’re looking for interesting ways to eat more vegetables and minimize your carbohydrate intake, then try this recipe. Basically, butternut squash is a vegetable that’s similar to a pumpkin or radish.It’s skinned and de-seeded before being put through a spiralizer or pasta maker.
The resulting ‘noodles’ are baked until soft for about 10-15 minutes and then eaten just like spaghetti, with some tomato sauce and vegan cheese on top.
Alternatively, some people will cook the whole butternut squash first, and then use a peeler to grate out the cooked flesh into slivers.
8. Vegan Toona
If you’re a vegan who misses the taste of fish, this particular product tries its best to recreate that. Vegan Toona is a product from American brand Sophie’s Kitchen. It comes in two flavors, namely black pepper and sea salt. The black pepper Toona is made from potato starch and vegetable protein whereas the sea salt version is soy free and made mainly from peas.
Vegan Toona can be used just like regular canned tuna, and be added to salads or sandwiches. Otherwise you can just enjoy it as it is, plain and fresh out of the can.
Seitan is one word that non-vegans would probably never have heard of. It’s actually a meat substitute made out of wheat gluten or wheat proteins. The term ‘Seitan’ was coined in Japan, but the practice of eating wheat gluten has been practiced by some time in East Asia by vegetarian Buddhists.
Seitan has caused some controversy among vegans, some of whom refuse to eat gluten as they believe it causes allergies and other health issues.
10. Millet Flakes
Millet is a grain that used to be eaten as much as rice and wheat around the world. Nowadays, it’s pretty much confined to the health food rack in local supermarkets. Not many know that this grain is pretty versatile and one way it’s best eaten is as a breakfast cereal.
Millet flakes are actually crunchier than corn flakes and maintain their texture longer even if you dunk them in milk. Millet flakes can also be turned into cookies and sprinkled on desserts for a healthy extra crunch.
Many people believe that being vegan is tough. That may be true at first, but if you’re dedicated to that lifestyle and are willing to experiment, you’ll find that vegan food can be as delicious and comforting as a regular diet.