Vegan food: so much more than just tofu and grains.
More than just “meat free”. The vegan diet goes a step further.
Saying “hello” to a vegan diet means saying “good-bye” to animal products like eggs, cheese, honey and milk. However, a vegan diet does not mean a life of just cereals and tofu. Especially today, vegan products and meals include a wide range of interesting and tasty foods.
SHOPPING MADE EASY – IS IT VEGAN OR NOT?
Nowadays large supermarket chains have recognized the food trend demands of their vegan customers. Vegan options have become the norm and are surprisingly versatile for everyday consumption. The vegan perspective also brings a new, creative use of familiar ingredients with it. Vegan products can be identified by the ‘VeOf course, it is also important to take a look at the list of ingredients to see if any animal products have been used (gelatine, milk, eggs, etc). Be aware, though, that there may be hidden animal components (for example: a constituent of flavour). If necessary, double check with the manufacturer to be sure the product is truly vegan.
VEGAN FOOD – WHAT DO I ACTUALLY EAT?
- The Basics
Follow Canada’s Food Guide to plan your meals and snacks, including getting 5 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. To make sure you plan your vegan diet to meet all of your individual nutrient needs talk to a Registered Dietitian with expertise in counselling vegetarians and vegans.
- Whole grains
Whole grains assist satiety and provide energy. Try adding more and experimenting with a new whole grain each week. In addition to oatmeal and brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, amaranth and millet are all tasty options.
- Vegetable protein
Soy, legumes, nuts, and seeds provide a source of protein. Try including more pulses, like kidney beans, lentils of all colours, chickpeas, yellow peas for protein and fibre. Walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds enrich meals as well as provide a snack break with essential fatty acids and energy.
- Vegetable oils and fats
The deliberate selection of high quality oils such as canola, flaxseed, walnut and soybean oil help provide omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as vegan vegetable margarines and spreads (such as Becel® Vegan).
- Snacks, sweets, and alcohol
No one, including vegans, wants to miss out on the little luxuries of life. There are a number of vegan wines available, and vegan sweets such as ice cream have found their way into the supermarkets.
VEGAN FOODS AND PRODUCTS – MUCH MORE THAN “REPLACEMENTS”
Those who ban non-vegan foods from the kitchen often find themselves looking for an equivalent replacement. Thankfully there are great options at your local shops or supermarket:
- Egg substitute powder for baking can be found at health food shops. For some recipes, you can use half a mashed banana or 100 g of apple sauce as a substitute for an egg.
- Agave nectar or sugar syrup are great vegan substitutes for honey.
- Fortified Soy beverage – whether in a shake, as yogurt or ice cream, this soy beverage easily takes the place of cow's milk. All vegan milk substitutes are also lactose free. Instead of cream or sour cream, use a small amount of coconut milk to give soups a special flavoursome kick.
- When it is time to get rid of butter, look for a vegan spread without milk or butter ingredients. Home-made or shop-bought products based on spreadable soy or coconut paste can be seasoned savoury or sweet. Why not try Becel® Vegan Margarine?
- Tofu is not just a meat substitute. It is also a versatile cheese alternative: regular tofu is a great alternative to hard cheese, or when soft, silken tofu can be used like cream cheese. Instead of grated cheese, reach for breadcrumbs or ground nuts for tasty casserole toppings
- Hearty tempeh made from soy, lupin (as flour, ice cream or cottage cheese) and seitan from wheat are all delicious alternatives to tofu. Seitan is perfect for pan-frying, baking or deep-frying. Pre-made patties with grains and seeds take the place of traditional meat patties.
- Seaweed is not just for sushi! Agar agar is a product made from dried red algae and is used as a vegan alternative to gelatine.
- Guar gum is another strong binder for vegan baked goods, sauces and desserts.
- Carob gum, extracted from a tree native to the Middle East, occupies an important position in the vegan diet as a binder and egg substitute.