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Is it Vegan? Your Go-to Ingredient Guide

If you’re vegan, you know that it can be challenging to put together meals in a hurry. For a food or product to be suitable for vegans, it must be free of animal products or byproducts. Unprocessed plant food including vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes are ideal. Additionally, these products must not be tested on animals.

Fortunately, there are a few vegan sweet and savory ingredients that can get you out of any cooking rut. These ingredients are particularly useful for vegans or anyone trying to adopt a meatless lifestyle. Many of these also add much-needed protein along with enhancing the flavor and texture of your dishes.

Tempeh

Tempeh is one of the best sources of plant-based protein. It is a great addition to salads and stir frys. The best part is that it can be pre-cooked and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It stays fresh in the freezer for several months.

Beans & Lentils

Beans and lentils are extremely versatile, and there is a huge variety to choose from. Cannellini, pinto, kidney, and black beans are not only delicious but also packed full of protein. Keep your pantry stocked with at least two kinds of canned or dried beans and you’ll always have something on hand to throw into dishes. Lentils and chickpeas are excellent in pilafs, soups, braises, stews, and salads.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast adds creaminess to dishes and is a great substitute for cheese. Many people find it hard to give up cheese, so this is a great option. It can be added to sauces, used to coat tofu or potatoes, or even sprinkled over popcorn.

Tofu

Tofu is an essential in any vegan or vegetarian kitchen. Firm tofu can be added to baked dishes, or fried and added to salads. Silken tofu can be used in desserts or blended into dressings. Another great option to keep on hand is dried tofu which can be added to stir-fries and soups.

Tahini

Tahini, or sesame paste, is commonly known as an essential ingredient in Hummus. But it can also be added to recipes in many other ways. It can be used as a dressing, marinade, or cooking sauce.  It pairs well with tofu, tempeh, and vegetables.

What to Avoid

Apart from the obvious “milk,” “eggs” and “meat,” there are some other common animal-derived ingredients that you should avoid. Some of these are carmine, butterfat, gelatin, lactose, lard, Albumen, casein, shellac, and whey powder, as they are all animal products in some form.

It’s also important to make sure that your personal care products don’t contain ingredients such as musk, keratin, lanolin, tallow, and beeswax. Avoid wearing silk, leather, cashmere, and wool. Animal-based products are pervasive, appearing in products where you least expect to find them.

Now that you have a comprehensive list, you will find being vegan isn’t very hard at all!

 

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