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Vegan Resources ...

posted by ataraktos on 2011-04-09

A non-vegan's guide to some of those weird ingredients and foods vegans use and eat.

I decided to put together a page about some vegan ingredients that some non-vegan friends may not be familiar with ... this will be a work-in-progress ... I eventually hope to have images for everything listed here.

Nutritional Yeast (flavor, vitamins) - yellow, flakey substance with a cheesey or nut-like flavor; not the same as Brewer's Yeast (don't listen to anyone who tries to convince you otherwise - this is typically some store owner who stocks brewer's yeast but not nutritional yeast.) Also not like bread yeast. Vegans use nutritional yeast in cheese sauces and on popcorn ... it really becomes quite addictive. I've found that we use a lot more of it than we first did and I can hardly think of many savory dishes that wouldn't taste better with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. It's also fortified with lots of good stuff. Vegans who regulary consume nutritional yeast don't have to worry about their B12 intake. We currently buy our nutritional yeast from amazon.com.

Tempeh (protein) - a fermented soybean product; also slightly nutty-tasting ... some people say tempeh is an acquired taste. I loved it immediately (cooked) and am now quite happy to snack on pieces, straight from the package. There are a lot of different flavors, some with rice, some with flax, some that's been smoked and cut into strips to resemble bacon. If you find its flavor too strong, it's recommended to steam it for 10-15 minutes before cooking with it.

Bulgur Wheat (grain) - grains of wheat that have been boiled and dried. They make chewy additions to vegan sausages, meatloaves. Again, amazon.com's grocery section has a good price but I'm a little worried we'll never be able to use all this bulgur wheat.

Seitan / Wheat Gluten (protein) - seitan (pronounced pretty much like "satan" and also called "wheat meat") is a versatile meat-substitute made from vital wheat gluten "flour", which is a flour of the protien-only parts of wheat grains. Seitan is easier than tofu or tempeh to make yourself, now that vital wheat gluten is available. In the old days, people obtained wheat gluten from kneeding flour (regular flour) under running water until only the protein remained. Again, amazon.com has the best prices I've been able to find. (I swear, I'm not affiliated and I don't particularly like Amazon, even ... but I do like the fact that having so many vegan staples able to be delivered to one's doorstop and reasonable prices, somewhat negates the "small town" factor for people who might want to try a more compassionate way of eating. You don't have to live in a large town, with numerous health food stores ... you just need a computer! =)

Quinoa (protien/grain) - ancient Mayan grain that can be cooked like rice but has a slightly nutty flavor and is high in protien.

Marmite (flavor) - extremely strong flavored "condiment", popular in Britain. Often called for in vegan soup/stew recipes and also used as flavoring in vegan seitan recipes.

Indian Black Salt / Kala Namak (flavor) - this salt is actually pinkish in color and is high in sulfur (or certainly tastes that way) ... a dash or two adds a particularly eggy flavor to tofu scrambles and "chicken" salads. I wish I remember where I purchased our black salt. In 20 years or so, we may need more.

TVP (protein) - de-fatted, dried soybean protein. We like TVP in chili. It's kind of granular and depends on the chef to give it its flavor. Frequently, TVP is processed with chemicals though and like all soy products, I prefer to buy organic. I currently have 20 pounds of organic, chemically-free-processed TVP on the way from Tennessee. Luckily, since it's de-fatted, it doesn't need to be stored in the refrigerator.

Soy Curls (protein) - full-fat strips of soybean meat-substitute from Butler Foods. Like TVP and tofu, soy curls depend on you for flavor so they are best when reconstituted in a flavorful broth. Because they contain full-fat, they should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. This is a slight problem when you buy the largest size Butler Foods sells.

Earth Balance (condiment) - popular brand of vegan margarine.

Veganaise (condiment) - popular brand of vegan mayo. I can't imagine anyone being able to taste any difference between Veganaise and regular mayo.

Vegan Cheeses (condiment?) - there are quite a few brands of vegan cheeses on the market, now. Follow Your Heart, Sheese, Teese, Daiya are a few of the more popular. We like Follow Your Heart Mozzarella and Italian Daiya for pizzas. There are also Tofutti (and others) for cream cheese and sour cream. I've found most vegan cheese taste much after they've been heated some. Pangea is currently the only place I can get Daiya. They have mail-order but that's probably best to order during winter. (Update - MOM's in Alexandria also has smaller bags of Daiya, as well as Follow Your Heart Cream Cheese and Sour Cream.)

Ener-g (baking aid) - popular brand of vegan egg-replacer, for replacing eggs in baked goods. Other popular egg-replacers include applesauce, bananas, pureed tofu or ground flax seed, mixed with some water. Vegan baking is really pretty easy, although many people assume it is impossible. It takes a little practice to be able to judge how and if a recipe can be veganized, but there are plenty of vegan recipes out there, so veganizing a baking recipe is not often needed.

Agave Nectar (sweetener) - agave nectar, from agave cacti, is a great, cruelty-free substitute for honey. Supposedly, agave nectar has a low glycemic index.

Raw Sugar (sweetener) - many vegans avoid plain, white table sugar because of the likelihood that it has been filtered through cattle bone char. There are plenty for raw sugars on the market now. Most are a little darker than white sugar. Occasionally a problem for baking white cakes, there are also whiter beet sugars available, as well as powdered sugar.

Cream (fat) - MimicCream is a fairly good cream substitute. It comes unsweetened and sweetened. I've used the unsweetened in creamy soups. Amazon.com, again ... I actually haven't even seen this product anywhere, locally.