With veganism on the rise, more people are searching the world for nutritious and tasty meat-substitutes. Though more and more options are available in the vegan market daily, tofu is considered one of the classics when it comes to a vegetarian diet. But is tofu vegan?
Keep reading this comprehensive guide so you know if tofu is in fact vegan, plus the many benefits to tofu consumption and considerations you might need to make if you’re vegan and wanting to enjoy some delicious tofu goodness.
What is Tofu Made Of?
In a process similar to that of making cheese, tofu is made by curdling soy milk, which comes from soybeans. The milk is coagulated with the use of taric acid or other food acids, and then pressed into bricks. As this process contains no animal byproducts, neither does tofu, meaning tofu itself completely vegan.
Tofu has very little flavor on its own but acts as a great carrier for flavors so it works as a versatile addition to or meat substitution for many great vegan meals.
Is All Tofu Vegan?
Although tofu in general is completely vegan friendly, we always recommend checking the ingredients list on the tofu you have.
Sometimes, the odd brand of tofu may use a different method to create their tofu, some of which include animal byproducts in their process. Though this isn’t common practice, it’s always best to do your own research and stay safe!
Health Benefits of Tofu
Tofu has been a staple food in Asian countries for centuries. Since tofu is made from soybeans, it is extremely rich in protein and iron. In addition to these benefits, tofu contains no cholesterol and very little saturated fat. Tofus can be used as a meat substitute or added into a variety of dishes, such as soups, salads, and even desserts.
Tofu is now used in almost every part of the world and has gained popularity for its taste as well as it's nutritional value. Because tofu offers such a wide array of health benefits and has such a pleasant taste and texture, it can be added to almost any meal and enjoyed by all.
While there are many reasons to go vegan, the health benefits are definitely one of them. Tofu is high in protein and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs, while also providing fats, carbs, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Tofu itself also offers many health benefits, including:
- Tofu can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to this study. Research shows us that the introduction of soy into the diet can significantly improve a number of the determining factors of cardiovascular disease, including cholesterol levels, making this vegan-friendly food great for the heart!
- Tofu can boost kidney function due to the proteins in soy, and could also have benefits for people who are undergoing dialysis or kidney transplantation.
- Some studies have even shown that soy products like tofu can help with symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes, because of phytoestrogens that soy contains.
- Research has also indicated that tofu could help protect against breast cancer, with studies reporting that women who ate soy products at least once a week had a significantly lower risk (48–56%) of breast cancer. This is thought to be due to genisten, the predominant isoflavone in soy.
Who Can’t Eat Tofu?
As tofu is made using soy milk, anyone with a soy intolerance or allergy should not consume tofu. As a common allergy, you should ensure that you are not allergic to soy before consuming tofu to avoid potentially dangerous consequences. Always make sure you read food labels carefully and check for allergens.
If you have an allergy or intolerance to soy, here are some vegan, soy-free alternatives to tofu:
- Seitan is a protein-packed meat substitute that contains no soy, but does contain gluten. Seitan closely replicates the texture of meat and works well as vegan foods like burgers or steaks. It can also be included in curries, stir-fries or kebabs.
- Though the key ingredient in Quorn is a microprotein, some products are not yet vegan. Quorn does however offer a range of vegan products that could work well as an addition to your vegan diet if you can’t eat tofu, just make sure to check the packaging first!
- Check out this Soy-Free Tofu Recipe to see if you could create your own vegan, soy and gluten-free tofu and start adding it to a world of tasty recipes.
Great Vegan Tofu Meal Recipes
Tofu is extremely versatile in flavour, so lends itself perfectly to a variety of recipes. Here are some of our favourites:
- This General Tso’s Tofu Recipe cooks in just 30 minutes. It is a spicy-sweet, healthier alternative to the classic Chinese takeout, and is bursting with flavour.
- This Vegan Tofu Bolognese Recipe is a creative twist on the Italian classic. Using cubed or crumbled tofu instead of meat, this tasty vegan recipe offers the same great flavour with all the vegan benefits.
- This Delicious Vegan and Gluten-Free Tofu Curry is ready in 20 minutes with only 10 ingredients! The curry sauce is full of flavour, made with cubes of crispy fried tofu, spinach and a variety of Indian spices.
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