Tofu has been a staple of vegetarian diets for decades but can you also enjoy tofu when you are vegan? Tofu is suitable for a vegan diet but it’s important to check the ingredients of your favorite tofu. We take a closer look at the ingredients of tofu and find out what makes this delicious food vegan-friendly.
Is Tofu Vegan-Friendly?
As tofu is made from soy beans, it is ideal for a vegan diet. While tofu also contains some other additives, these ingredients aren’t usually animal-based.
Soy beans in tofu are a great addition to your plant-based diet and you can enjoy this legume in so many different ways, including as tofu.
Tofu That’s Not Vegan
While tofu is generally vegan, there are a few exceptions, such as egg tofu. Most tofu brands that contain eggs usually advertise their tofu as egg tofu.
This means that this type of tofu contains an animal product, so it isn’t vegan friendly. Saying this, egg tofu might sound like the real thing but it doesn’t actually contain soy beans like traditional tofu recipes.
Instead, egg tofu (also known as Japanese bean curd), almond tofu and other specialty tofu varieties are only called tofu because the end product looks very similar to normal tofu.
Make sure that you check the ingredients of your tofu to find out whether your food contains animal products or animal derivatives.
What Is Tofu Made Of?
Tofu is essentially curdled soy milk. The curdling is a process that’s similar to making cheese. The milk from soybeans is coagulated with food acids, and it is then pressed into small brick-shape blocks.
This basic process means that tofu doesn’t contain any animal byproducts, so vegans can safely eat tofu. However, with the small amount of ingredients in tofu, it doesn’t have a lot of flavor. This doesn’t make tofu very tasty on its own but it’s ideal when added as a carrier for flavors in vegan meals.
Is Tofu A Dairy Or Meat?
Tofu is neither dairy or meat, although it is often classed with eggs and meat because it is processed soybean protein. Tofu is essentially a vegetable protein that is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Types Of Tofu
Soy-based tofu comes in a variety of different textures that you can use for different dishes.
The regular tofu that you can buy at a grocery store is usually firm or extra-firm tofu. This type of tofu has a meaty, dense texture. This makes firmer tofus ideal for grilling, stir-frying and baking.
Soft And Silken Tofu
Soft tofu or extra-fine tofu has a beautifully creamy and smooth texture. As it is so creamy, it usually falls apart very quickly when added to a recipe.
This type of tofu has a slightly sweet taste that is ideal as a dairy substitute in soups, baked goods and even salad dressings.
Health Benefits Of Tofu
As tofu is a plant-based and natural product made from soya, it’s suitable for a range of diets. It is low in calories and saturated fats. However, tofu is a great source of dietary minerals, such as magnesium and calcium.
The soy in tofu contains a range of components that support the health of your blood flow, heart and blood vessels.
As tofu is relatively cheap and you can buy it in almost every grocery store, it’s a much healthier source of vegan proteins than tofu alternatives.
It’s important to bear in mind that soy crops are typically treated with pesticides, so it’s a good idea to stick to organic tofu.
Tofu is inexpensive and readily available compared to some other vegan proteins that you can only find at specialty grocery stores.
How To Prepare Vegan Tofu
Soy tofu has a bad reputation as a dull and bland protein that doesn’t have a flavor of its own. However, tofu only tastes bland when it hasn’t been prepared very well.
When you add the right seasoning and flavors to your tofu recipe, then you get crispy tofu bits that add great texture to your dish. Here are a few steps to help you prepare your tofu for any recipe.
Press Your Tofu
First, you will need to remove your block of tofu from the packaging. Tofu is full of water, so you need to press this water out to remove the excess liquid. This is usually done by placing the tofu into a tofu press for 15 minutes.
However, if you don’t have a tofu press, then you can also put your tofu into a paper towel and put it between a couple of heavy plates for up to 3 hours.
Although this process can take some time, especially if you don’t own a tofu press, it’s important that all the excess water is removed from the tofu.
Marinate Your Tofu
Once your tofu has been pressed, you can apply some marinade or sauce of your choice to the tofu. Allow it to soak in your marinade for around 30 minutes.
It’s important that your sauce or marinade contains vinegar, lemon or another acid that allows the tofu block to absorb the fluids. Then you can remove the tofu from your marinade and start cooking it.
Choose Your Tofu Cooking Option
There are a few different ways that you can cook your tofu. One of the most popular tofu cooking methods is frying it.
Just chop your tofu into small cubes and add them to a pre-heated pan or skillet. Add a little bit of cooking oil and pan-fry your tofu on each side until it’s golden brown.
Alternatively, you can also bake or grill your tofu. If you choose to grill your tofu, then you need to place the whole tofu block on your grill. For baked tofu, you need to cut the tofu block into small cubes and then bake them in the oven for 15 minutes.
The majority of tofu varieties are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. This tasty plant-based protein can be added to your soups, pasta or stir-fry for a little extra texture.