On Friday’s lunch break I decided to venture down to my local healthfood store at Knox City and I have to say I was very impressed with the range of alternative foods – a really great selection for vegetarian and vegans also. I ended up buying these four products as I have been hearing so many good things about them.
TVP Mince $3.95 for 500 grams. I used to cook with TVP (textured vegetable protein) quite a lot back in the day when I first became a veggie in my mid teens. It’s a really versatile product which nicely fills the space left by minced meat, so great for things like Bolognaise or Chilli Con Carne (both staples in this household for week day meals). I recall even making some curries with it in the past. TVP is made from soy. This particular brand is organic but on further reading the label states that it is packed in Australia from imported ingredients. Something I have been trying to do recently is buy products that have travelled less to cut down on food miles which in turn reduces my carbon footprint. So will check out the alternatives next time.
Agave Nectar $7.35 for 250 ml. Derived from the Agave plant (a cactus of sorts) and usually produced in Mexico, it is quite a pricey little ingredient. Agave nectar or syrup is a sweetener remarkably similar in taste and consistency to honey and since vegans do not eat honey, it is off the shopping list (at least while part of this challenge). Why don’t vegans eat honey? Well, because it is seen as enslavement of another being for our benefit – farmed bees don’t live the charmed life we might imagine and much like farmed animals, are denied their full potential life span for the purposes of higher production levels. More information on this can be found here. Anyway, does Agave Nectar make a good substitute for honey? Well the vegan chefs certainly claim it does so I shall have fun experimenting.
Savoury Yeast Flakes $6.95 for 100 grams. Vegans have difficulty in obtaining vitamin B12 from their diet. Neither plants nor animals can make vitamin B12, however Omnivores get their B12 by eating animals who have absorbed it by eating plants contaminated by B12. It’s quite complex and a bit of a learning curve for me as I am no chemist! Anyway, Nutritional Yeast is touted as a great source of B12 for vegans and can sprinkled onto meals for extra flavour and nutrition. The pack even has a recipe on the back for making “Melty Cheese” which can be used on pizza, toasted cheese sandwiches etc.
Molasses Licorice $3.95 for 200 grams. I have rather a soft spot for soft eating licorice along the lines of Darryl Lea, however many brands of licorice contain gelatin. Gelatin is a substance made from the collagen inside the skin/bones of animals, commonly used as a gelling agent in foods such as jelly, all manner of jelly lollies like snakes and marshmallows and also in some varieties of yogurt, in particular the low-fat varieties. The Molasses Licorice is not a bad substitute, although it is a lot firmer than the Darryl Lea kind and takes a lot more chewing, but I am less likely to scoff the lot in one sitting!
Stay tuned for more additions to my vegan pantry this week