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June 7, 2013

5 Mainstay Foods For A Vegan’s Toolbox


When people think of going vegan, one of the first things that often crosses their mind is “but what would I eat”? While the variety of rice, legumes, vegetables and fruits is endless, satisfying the meat and dairy gap can seem daunting. However, the reality is that there are more than enough foods to keep a vegan full and their minds spinning with recipes—all without missing meat, eggs and dairy. The following are five foods that should be in every vegan’s toolbox to make great, memorable meals.

Seitan: Seitan is a meat substitute made from the wheat protein gluten. If you don’t have a gluten intolerance, seitan is one of the best tools in a vegan’s toolbox! Not only is seitan a protein, but its hearty texture and look resemble meat, while the taste is mild, allowing for a wide variety of cooking options. Seitan is often a main ingredient in packaged ‘fake meat’ substitutes. On it’s own, popular seitan dishes include seitan wings for dipping, chicken fried seitan or barbeque rubbed seitan.


Tempeh: Originating from Indonesia, tempeh is a firm patty or cake formed from fermented soybeans. Tempeh’s high protein and low fat count, dense texture and nutty, mushroom flavor make a great meat substitute and particular vegan favorite. Tempeh cakes are often sliced into patties for barbecuing, used as a chicken salad substitute or cubed and golden fried as a tasty addition to salads, soups or stir-fries.


Tofu: Like tempeh, tofu is made from soy. However, while tempeh is made directly out of soy beans, tofu is made from coagulated soymilk. Another high protein, low calorie food, tofu’s mild flavor is ideal for cooking as it blends with most seasonings, sauces and flavorings. Tofu is often used as an egg substitute for breakfast burritos or fry-ups or as a meat substitute in stir-fry and curry dishes.


Portobello Mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms are large, adult white cap mushrooms. Due to their maturity before harvesting, their flavor and texture is more dramatic and, therefore, a wonderful addition to any diet. Their large cap size, up to four inches, meaty flavor and texture make a great hamburger substitute, barbecue grilled main dish or meat replacement in casseroles and soups. Additionally, as with all mushrooms, portobello mushrooms are high in B vitamins, potassium and amino acids.


Soy Sour Cream and Soy Yogurt: Moving on from meat and egg substitutes to dairy substitutes, soy sour cream makes every vegan’s diet more versatile. Like yogurt made from dairy, soy yogurt is made from bacterial fermentation. Soy sour cream is typically made from blended tofu, oil, salt and vinegar and can be made from home or purchased from your local store. Soy sour cream and soy yogurt have a rich, creamy texture and flavor and are lower in fat than their dairy versions. Like tofu, they pick up the flavoring of their accompanying seasonings or foods nicely. Some vegans use soy yogurt as sour cream while others buy each separately. Use these creamy options to top Mexican dishes, in fruit parfaits or to make decadent dishes such as a mushroom stroganoff.

This is a guest post by Mark Lynch. Mark recommends reading more about culinary arts education and food trends on

Image Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

General Thoughts, Vegetarian Food

2 comments already

  1. Spirulina: What You Might Just Need If You’re A Protein-Deficient Vegan : Vegetarian Meals on 07.08.2013 at 8:48 am | permalink
  2. [...] – is a consequence of their refusal or inability to consume animal proteins, they quickly turn to protein sources, such as soy products. Unfortunately, soy is not the health food it claims to [...]

  3. Three Great Grilling Ideas For Vegetarians : Vegetarian Meals on 08.30.2013 at 3:51 pm | permalink
  4. [...] the ingredients surrounding it, so you can definitely make everything you used to enjoy eating but substitute the meat for tofu for the same great flavors. And because tofu is high in protein and various nutrients, it [...]

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