Whether black, white or kidney beans - beans are part and parcel of vegan cuisine as they are so versatile and very healthy. It’s important to remember to always cook them through so that they don’t give you an upset stomach. The useful fiber in the beans can help to prevent the body from absorbing carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Beans contain antioxidants which fight free radicals, thus helping to prevent cancer. What’s more, they contain relatively few calories, plenty of protein and are low in fat. It’s not without reason that beans are a staple of people’s diets in South and Central America. Why not try black bean brownies? They're really delicious and easy to prepare!
Butter is one of those ingredients which conjures up images of food lovingly cooked by grandmothers. The secret of why it tastes so great is simple: fat carries flavor. Whether it’s special blends of plant-based fats, oils and proteins, or shea butter or margarine etc., there are many different types of “vegan butter” for spreading on your children’s sandwiches, frying and baking.
If you’ve chosen a vegan diet, it’s likely that in addition to doing it for the health benefits, you had animal welfare in mind. Leather, wool, silk, down, fur, buttons made from horn or mother of pearl, and raincoats impregnated with beeswax are all products of animal origin. Synthetic fabrics, or fabrics made from bamboo, linen or hemp are just a few of the alternatives. A vegan lifestyle can be about much more than just a vegan diet - it’s also a way of putting a great deal of thought into our whole lives and environment.
Coconut oil is a great alternative for frying and cooking, and you will find it on many an ingredient list for vegan recipes. Who knows whether it really has the healing properties that many claim it does. Substances in coconut oil such as lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid, in addition to various polyphenols, are indeed well known for their health-giving properties. High-quality coconut fat and coconut oil should never be confused with palm fat and palm oil, however, as they are obtained from different plants.
Many people are not aware of how many animal products are to be found in everyday cosmetics. Unfortunately, it’s very common for them to contain fats or substances from animal organs such as the kidneys. Yet the fact that vegan cosmetics do exist shows that another way is possible. A further advantage is that vegan cosmetics usually do not use animal testing. Isn’t it beautiful when beauty can be beautiful for everyone?
Vegan variations on recipes for baking and cooking need an alternative to conventional eggs, and many people don’t want to have to do without their beloved omelette either... but that isn't a problem... Vegan egg replacement products usually need to be beaten like egg, and often use pea protein or starches such as tapioca, but they can also be made from linseeds and can be used in different proportions. Egg replacements are very easy to store and are an indispensable ingredient in vegan cuisine.
Honey isn’t vegan! Good vegan alternatives are agave syrup, sugar beet syrup, dandelion or maple syrup. Dried fruits are also a great vegan way of sweetening muesli.
Lupins are a great example of how the plant world provides us with superpowers. Lupin protein (which starts off as a mass that looks like soft cheese) is often used as a dry powder. Sweet lupins are used to make vegan flour, vegan spreads, pasta, protein powder and even coffee, milk and meat alternatives. The lupin plant, which has colorful, almost butterfly-like flowers, grows in Europe too and therefore doesn’t need to be transported all too far for us to have it in our kitchen cupboards. This is an advantage in terms of sustainability which the food industry is also becoming increasingly aware of.
Gone are the days when you could only find a soy latte or oat drink in only the hippest of cafés. Alternatives to plant drinks is obtained from the proteins and fats of various plants. Almond, oat, soy, lupin and pea drinks have become a regular feature in many kitchen cupboards, even though the people buying them aren’t necessarily lactose intolerant. Intensive dairy farming, with all of its awful consequences for male calves and their mothers, has brought about an ever-growing increase in the popularity of plant-based drinks. The taste is also most certainly a factor! Nowadays, it comes as standard to be able to enjoy vegan plant drink with your muesli or in your coffee.
Miso is well known as a Japanese soup. The basis of the soup is miso paste, which is made from fermented soya beans. But this paste is so much more than just a soup ingredient. The piquant, salty flavor is very versatile, and can be used with ingredients such as tofu or seitan. Miso is also a well known example of the fifth basic flavor, umami. If you like your food strongly seasoned, you’ll love miso!
Nuts and seeds have been part of our diets since the dawn of humanity. The little powerhouses can be enjoyed as they are or can be used to cook with. Many nuts and seeds contain fiber, which has a positive effect on digestion. Most types contain various vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins and vitamin E as well as magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus, alongside a small amount of carbohydrate and many “good” fatty acids. We should also mention some of the nuts which technically aren’t nuts - cashew “nuts”, for example, are not actually nuts, but are packed with almost everything that the “real nuts” contain, which makes them veritable little powerhouses as well.
Do you crave vegan food with all the freshness of the sea, but without the fish? There’s a simple solution: seaweed. Whether it’s hijiki or nori, there are many countries where seaweed has always been used to give food the fresh taste of the sea. When paired with tofu or seitan, seaweed gives your food real flavor while fighting against overfishing and factory farming in the form of fish farms. It’s quite simple, really: “Seaweed doesn’t taste like fish; it’s fish that taste like seaweed, because that’s what they eat!” So what do we need to eat the fish for in the first place?! Give up fish without giving up the taste!
Seitan was originally developed by Buddhist monks in Japan, where it is also known as “Fu”. It’s easy to produce, as the basic mixture consists solely of wheat protein. It’s only when you add flavors and spices in combination with flavor carriers such as oils that you can create infinite savory vegan dishes. By pulling the mixture repeatedly and - watch out, here comes a tip for those who really take cooking seriously! - by kneading, you can create fibers reminiscent of meat or fish. This means that seitan can be used as the basis for vegan chicken wings, gyros and sausages - and whatever else our customers want to make from it. Unfortunately, as seitan consists mainly of gluten, this culinary all-rounder is one food that coeliacs and people with gluten intolerance need to avoid.
Is sugar vegan? Not always, unfortunately. During sugar production, animal bone char (a waste product of the meat industry) is used for filtering during the refining process. While this should theoretically no longer be the case in Germany, the process is unfortunately still particularly common in other countries, and still does not have to be declared on packaging.
Tapioca - or tapioca starch - is obtained from the cassava plant and is a common ingredient in vegan products. The ingredient made from the South American super-tuber is often used in egg replacement products, for example. Tapioca itself is rather neutral in flavor, and completely gluten-free. You are particularly likely to encounter this type of starch while trying your hand at vegan baking.
Tempeh is a classic dish from Indonesia which consists of fermented soy beans. It has a more solid consistency than tofu. It’s perfect for marinading, as it absorbs the marinade very well. The fermentation occurs by adding a fungus, which is also responsible for the slightly nutty aroma. Alternatively, tempeh can be made from lupin grown in Europe. Tempeh made from soya is slightly more bitter, which is why lupin tempeh is, to a certain extent, becoming more popular in Europe. Proportionally, tempeh also contains more iron than tofu or seitan.
Tofu is probably the best known vegan ingredient. Originally from Asian cuisine, this soy product is now available in a seemingly endless number of variations. The terms “bean curd” or “soy curd” are often slightly misleading, even if tofu is a curdled liquid obtained after boiling soya in saltwater before pressing it.
Toothpaste often isn’t vegan, as it may contain animal fats (glycerin), beeswax or bonemeal. Vegan toothpaste is just one example of how it is possible to support using high-quality personal hygiene products which are plant-based rather than being of animal origin.
People who decide to live a vegan lifestyle choose to give up foods of animal origin as well as foods where animal substances are used in the production process. Every person has different reasons for their decision. In addition to religious motives, veganism is based on arguments from animal ethics, environmental protection and sustainability, preventing world hunger or similar areas - or people might just choose a vegan diet for health reasons. The use of animal products (such as leather) or using animals for medical reasons (animal testing) are also issues within veganism. This means that for many followers, veganism means more than just a vegan diet: it involves a rethink in many areas of life.