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Vegan Kitchen Cupboard Essentials

It’s Veganuary! Which means that a batch of new vegans are excitedly filling their shopping baskets with all the plant-based goodies while simultaneously working out how to veganize their kitchens for the month. To be precise, over 500,000 individuals have signed up to take part in this year’s Veganuary, which has smashed all goals and records from the previous year, proving how far this movement has come. 

In this article, I’ll be dishing out some advice on how you can veganize your kitchen cupboards and pantry for Veganuary. So let’s get started!

Nut Butters

Gone are the days that people primarily used nut butter for spreading on toast - it’s good for so much more than that! Nut butters are hugely versatile, and it’s not just peanut butter in the limelight anymore, there’s almond butter, cashew butter, and even hazelnut chocolate spread. You can use nut butter to liven up a pasta sauce, to make soups creamier, or as a salad dressing. What’s also great is that they’re pretty easy to make from home, too. 

Sweeteners 

Vegans don’t eat honey because we avoid anything that comes from an animal. Fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes, such as date syrup, maple syrup, coconut nectar, and some brands even sell vegan honey (which doesn’t actually contain any honey). 

Nuts and Seeds

I know, this is a super broad category, but I’ll try and break it down for you. The number of nuts and seeds in the world are seemingly endless, from walnuts and peanuts to flaxseeds and sesame seeds; and each one is bursting with benefits and uses. For example, flaxseeds and chia seeds provide vegans with a source of omega-3 (which usually comes from seafood), and you can use these tiny ingredients to blend into smoothies, ice-cream, or sprinkle on top of salads or porridge. Also, cashews are one of the most sacred ingredients for vegans as they’re incredibly creamy and can be blended up to make wonderful sauces (or even dairy-free cheese).

Vegetable Stock

No kitchen is complete without some form of vegetable stock, and a vegan kitchen is no exemption. Vegetable stock can give meals an extra boost of flavour, for example, you can saute vegetables in stock, boil rice in stock, and of course, add it to a soup or stew. You can either purchase it from the store or make your own by using kitchen scraps. 

Soy Sauce/Tamari and Marmite

Soy sauce is not only a must-have ingredient for Asian cuisine but vegan cooking, too. It adds a distinct umami (meaty) flavour to any dish that needs it, and the same goes for marmite. So if you think your plant-based bolognese sauce is missing a little something, try adding soy sauce or marmite, and see how the flavour improves.

Spices, Herbs and Seasonings

Spices, herbs, and seasonings are an important part of any kitchen, although I began to use a much more diverse range of herbs and spices to flavour my plants when I went vegan. I now have a newfound appreciation for vegetables, so you’ll never catch me boiling them again! Roasting vegetables in a delicious mixture of herbs and seasonings is the only way to go, trust me. Also, if you ever need to create your own vegan alternatives (such as meat, eggs or dairy), herbs and spice blends are key to mimicking the flavour that you are recreating.

Nutritional Yeast

This essential vegan pantry item is also known as yeast flakes or ‘nooch’, and it has a unique nutty, cheesy flavour to it. Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B vitamins and is often fortified with B12, which vegans are advised to take supplements for. You can find it online or in supermarkets and health stores. Here are some recipes that would be complemented by a good helping of nooch: 

Tahini

Tahini is a versatile paste made from toasted sesame seeds and is widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It has a creamy, nutty taste that you might recognise as being the main ingredient in hummus. 

Beans

Beans are full of fibre, antioxidants, and are one of the best sources of plant-based protein. You can either purchase them canned or dried (dried requires more preparation than canned) and use them in tonnes of recipes, from burrito bowls to veggie burgers. They can also make wonderful substitutes; for example, you can use chickpea water (aquafaba) as an egg replacement.

Mayonnaise 

Not much explanation needed here as I’m sure you’re well-acquainted with what mayonnaise is! But did you know that the vegan alternatives taste just the same, if not better? You can use mayo to give sandwiches a delicious freshness, to make potato salad or coleslaw, and you can even lather it on your cheese toastie to provide it with a golden crispness.

Miso

Miso is a fermented paste with the power to give a rich, umami taste to your dishes. It’s most well known for being used in Japanese cuisine but is rising in popularity in the UK with veganism. Miso has a range of health benefits and can be added to various dishes such as noodles, soups, pasta sauces, etc. 

Oils

Every kitchen cupboard needs some form of oil, whether it’s coconut oil or hemp oil. When cooking vegan, you’re likely going to need more than one type of this product as they all have different strengths. For example, canola oil is good for frying as it has a high smoke point, whereas extra virgin olive oil is good for salad dressings. 

15 Jan 2021
Jenny Edwards

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