Veganism has been a consistently growing food trend, and appropriately so given the many benefits that come with it – to start, the ethical treatment of animals, our fellow living inhabitants on this planet. But a vegan diet also has a lower environmental impact, as well as bolsters a healthy diet that is easier to digest, and it can even lead to a lower grocery bill*.
There will be those who hear the term vegan and immediately react in almost dogmatic opposition, as they cannot imagine much more than salad on offer. However, it is increasingly common to find products from vegetable origin that appeal to the carnivorous palate and retain the benefits previously mentioned.
If you are interested in learning more about this diet and some of the most common ingredients to replace animal protein and dairy, read on.
Seiten is often used as a meat substitute because of its meat-like texture and ability to be seasoned. It is not a food for everyone, since it is made with gluten, a protein present in the many grains, which is separated from the starch to create an elastic mass that is flavored and cooked. It can then be fried or seasoned in a number of ways to suit any recipe.
The protein found in soybeans has a high nutritional value, as it contains the nine essential amino acids that the human body does not produce. As a derivative of this legume, tofu represents a healthy option and the principles of its production have remained virtually unchanged since its origin thousands of years ago in China. Soybeans are soaked, ground, and filtered to extract their “milk”, then a coagulant is added and the tofu is pressed into blocks. It can be sliced or cubed and served with a variety of dishes.
The process for producing non-dairy cheese is quite similar to that of tofu, but the raw material comes from nuts like almond, cashew, macadamia, pine nut, etc., as well as versions for those with nut allergies that use coconut oil and potato or tapioca starches. Depending on the style of cheese to be approximated (there is now a considerable variety), different elements are used in the process, including mesophilic bacterial cultures that will define the flavor and firmness, or noble mold culture, in cases where the aim is to replicate cheeses such as Camembert and Brie. Vegan cheese board, anyone?
*A study conducted by Oxford University concluded that plant-based diets are the most affordable and that vegan diets are about a third less expensive than those that include animal derivatives.