5 delicious vegan dishes that EVERYONE should try

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The following is a transcript of the video

Food for vegans?

In a world that is increasingly paying attention to sustainability and health, vegetarian and vegan approaches have gone from a niche trend to an increasingly common and respected food choice, so much so that it is now almost constant to find some specific suggestions in restaurants.

However, I can’t help but notice an ongoing paradox regarding the perception of certain foods by those on an omnivorous diet; the latter, at least on paper, does not exclude any food, yet we often find ourselves labeling certain products as “for vegans”, as if they are intended exclusively for those who have decided to exclude animal products from their diet. However, this perception is a misunderstanding, as a vegan diet is characterized by what it leaves out rather than what it includes, unlike an omnivore diet, which on the other hand has the great advantage of being able to enjoy a complete selection, which by definition therefore also includes foods suitable for vegans.

Let me explain it better with a practical example, I’ll go back to talking about eating; if you notice, there are two possible approaches to present the vegetarian/vegan suggestions on the menu:

  • it is possible to create a separate page that contains foods available without animal derivatives,
  • or you can use a small symbol, usually a leaf or plant, to simply highlight the appropriate choices in the full list.

Personally, I think the latter is more appropriate because it’s a way of saying “this dish is okay Also for those following a certain diet’ instead of ‘this food is only for those following a certain diet’.

In addition to being more socially inclusive in tone, it is actually more nutritionally sound, encouraging a rotation of foods and flavors; then let me give you some practical examples of foods that, if you haven’t tried them yet, are definitely worth seeking out.

And no, I won’t tell you about the tofu, I promise.

Farinata

Since I like to win easily, let’s start with farinata, a classic that, with its regional variations, also wonderfully expresses Italian culinary diversity.

Far be it from me to first try to define its origin, but we find it, for example, in Liguria, in Sicily in the form of the Sicilian panelle and how can we forget Livorno, where it becomes the protagonist of the “5 e 5”, a sandwich filled with farinata into which, when add vegetables like grilled eggplant and you get a single meal that is not only delicious, but also nutritionally balanced and complete in terms of protein.

I bet you never thought of farinata as a “vegan food”, did you?

Farinata, despite being a pillar of Italian tradition, qualifies as the vegan dish par excellence. Simply made with chickpea flour, water, oil and salt, it’s a perfect example of how pulses can be turned into something irresistibly delicious. It’s strange to think that the same chickpeas that are often looked at with suspicion when presented whole can be so tempting when presented in the form of a nice, greasy farinata and with an irresistible crust behind the display case at the bakery counter.

And now we move east…

falafel

… where we meet another culinary masterpiece based on chickpeas: falafel. Originating in the Middle East, these small meatballs or pancakes have become famous around the world for their unique taste and versatility. Falafel is made by grinding chickpeas (or sometimes beans or other beans), mixed with herbs like cilantro and parsley, spices like cumin and coriander, and sometimes garlic and onion to add depth of flavor.

The falafel is fried to a crispy golden crust on the outside, but remains surprisingly soft on the inside. Usually served in a pita sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and flavored sauces such as tahini or yogurt, they also become a complete and satisfying meal.

Falafel is not only delicious, but also nutritionally rich. They provide a good dose of vegetable protein, complete in combination with bread for example, but also fiber and various essential nutrients, making them a great choice for everyone, not just vegans. In addition, thanks to the high content of fiber and protein, they are particularly filling.

Like farinata, falafel shows how chickpeas can be transformed into surprisingly different and delicious dishes, among other things, a perfect example of street food… so perfect that if you’ve never tasted them, you’ll find them wherever kebabs are prepared… sure, in that case it probably won’t be the best falafel in the world, but it’s a great way to try for yourself what you’ve been missing.

A woman eats a falafel wrap

Shutterstock/Stanislaw Mikulski

Humus

Continuing with the same approach, let’s now talk about hummus, another gastronomic excellence that sees chickpeas as protagonists. Also native to the Middle East, hummus is now popular in kitchens around the world and is popular for its texture and rich flavor.

It comes in the form of a soft and velvety cream, made in its basic recipe by mixing cooked and mashed chickpeas with tahini (sesame seed cream), lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, all seasoned with a pinch of salt and sometimes spices like cumin. This dish stands out for its simplicity and harmony of flavors, which together create a perfect balance between sweetness and sourness.

The variations are endless, chickpeas give way to other pulses or in the form of valuable additions including beetroot, roasted peppers, olives or even avocado… for new colours, textures and flavours. Some variations also include exotic spices or herbs such as cilantro or basil, making each version of hummus unique and surprising. This versatility makes hummus not only a delicious food, but also a real field of culinary experimentation, where traditional ingredients meet modern innovations and offer a palette of flavors and sensations that are always new and stimulating.

From a nutritional point of view, hummus is a real gold mine. Chickpeas provide vegetable protein and fiber, tahini provides healthy fats and calcium, while lemon juice contributes vitamin C, improving the absorption of iron contained in chickpeas.

So hummus is an excellent choice for both vegans and anyone who wants a tasty and healthy meal, and I can’t help but point out the popular wisdom that even without knowing concepts like protein complementarity and the difference between heme and non-heme iron, he understood the importance of the combination of these ingredients in a dish rich in nutrition and taste.

As Taleb would say, “The ancient wisdom and practical spirit of the people in the street often precede scientific discoveries.

Versatile in the kitchen, hummus makes an excellent snack, a dip for dipping raw vegetables or pita bread, or as a condiment for salads and sandwiches.

Hummus, like farinata and falafel, showcases the richness and versatility of chickpeas, transforming them into a dish that appeals to the taste buds of a wide variety of people, regardless of their dietary choices. You can try it now in the refrigerated section of every supermarket, and I recommend only one caveat: in the classic version, i.e. with tahini, the caloric content can be considerable, so it’s not quite like eating simple chickpeas. In other cases, the fat part is limited to a more modest amount of olive oil, so in that case there is definitely more to spare. As always, the label and especially the nutrition table is your friend.

Edema

Let’s move further east, this time to the Far East, for edamame; often served still in the pod, these young soybeans are a simple but incredibly healthy delicacy, usually eaten as a snack, as an appetizer, or as a protein component of mixed salads. With a nearly perfect texture and mild flavor, green edamame is rich in protein, fiber and micronutrients such as iron and calcium, making it an excellent choice for both those following a vegan diet and those looking for nutritious and light meals. With soy, the protein quality in this case is already practically ideal.

You can taste them in the frozen food section of the supermarket, with other legumes or in any oriental all-you-can-eat restaurant, where you have to be careful to order them without salt or at least remove the excess (typically it is served with coarse salt).

Nutritional yeast

We finish with a jewel, nutritional yeast.

It may be a lesser-known ingredient, but it’s surprisingly versatile and tasty. Often used as a flavoring in vegan diets, usually as a substitute for Parmesan, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast (don’t worry, it doesn’t ferment anything in the stomach), usually sold in flake or powder form.

This product has a unique taste, rich in umami, which certainly makes it a perfect substitute for cheese in many vegan recipes, but thanks to its excellent concentration of nutrients, I do not hesitate to define it as almost a dietary supplement: it is rich in protein, fiber and vitamins, especially from the B group (but don’t rely on it for B12 by the way) and it doesn’t contain the saturated fat typical of cheese.

I use it mainly for pasta, but you can enrich soups, sauces, savory pies or vegetables; just a word of advice, don’t try it expecting a cheese taste as you will be disappointed…in my opinion it is really good but it has its own unique personality and it would be unfair to judge it by it’s similarity to a completely different food…it would be like expecting , that a lemon tastes like an orange only because they are both citrus fruits.

Nutritional yeast has its own distinctive properties that deserve to be appreciated for what they are. Approaching it without prejudice will allow you to discover and improve its unique taste, which, although different from cheese, can enrich dishes with an original and delicious taste. It is important to embrace its identity, capable of enhancing a dish through its umami tone, and experiment with creativity to discover all its potential in the kitchen.

It can be more difficult to find in large retailers, generally only available in larger establishments, whereas health food stores can easily find it. Obviously it’s also easily available online, I’ll leave you with an example below.

In short, nutritional yeast, like the examples above, are practical examples of how foods vegans they can enrich your omnivorous diet, not only in terms of variety and taste, but also for their nutritional intake.

It will not only help you reduce your consumption of animal products in line with one of the key recommendations for a sustainable and healthy diet, but it will be an opportunity for more variety in your diet. This variety not only makes meals more interesting and tasty, but also contributes to a better nutritional balance and provides a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.

Remember that we vegetarians and vegans have to give up something, you have a complete choice at your disposal and it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. 😉

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