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Being on a strict vegan diet, means that you would have to stick to plant-based meals only. As well as being mindful of what you’re eating, and products you are buying from supermarkets, such as cheese, candies, energy drinks and more. Any type of food with a slight indication of meat, or animal product used would conclude that it is not suitable for vegans. So if you’re wondering whether tofu is vegan, you’re probably also wondering whether tofu involves the products of any animal at the same time.

What is Tofu?

Tofu is a type of food made by curdling soybean milk and pressing the curd into blocks, a process that is no different to cheese production, although without the use of animal products. Simply put this process involves preparing soy milk, which is made by soaking and grinding soy beans. Soy milk is completely dairy free, with no alternative ingredients that should concern vegans.

Is Tofu Safe For Vegans to Eat?

The ultimate question upon every vegans mind is whether or not tofu is safe for consumption. The good news is that it is, at least in its purest form. Some vegans at first appear sceptical over tofu, mainly because it resembles various dairy products as well as the fact that it is sometimes reffered to as bean curd with the word curd being linked to dairy as well. Tofu was known to be eaten as far back as 2,000 years ago in China, subsequently spreading to other parts of Asia as the years followed. Today it is popular across the globe, especially among vegetarians and vegans and is commonly accepted as a meat substitution.

Texture and Taste of Tofu

Despite its popularity, tofu isn’t particularly loved for its taste or smell, rather its lack of potent aroma, and textural flavours that might have made an impact on its long list of admirers. However this makes it very versatile, as it can be made to easily adopt the taste of food it is served with, as well as providing great texture and excellent substance. Blocks of tofu can vary in terms of how soft or hard they are. It can be eaten hot or cold, cooked or uncooked with frying baking and other cooking options available, so take your pick!

Is Tofu Good For Your Health?

Not only is this little block of magic, vegan friendly, it is also considered an excellent source of both protein and iron, whilst being naturally low in calories as well. Tofu can effectively provide the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients to stay healthy.

Generally when it comes to tofu, the main cause for concern is whether the food it is being served with is vegan-friendly. Additionally there are some forms of processed tofu, designed to enhance its flavours or alter its qualities which can potentially mean the inclusion of other ingredients.

Are There Non-Vegan Varieties of Tofu?

While tofu alone its perfectly suitable for vegans or those following vegan diet, certain flavoured, or processed varieties may not be. There are a number of reasons that tofu can be adapted and these include, the taste, or enhancing its shelf life. When purchasing a non-standard tofu product, you’ll need to double check the ingredients do not contain elements of animal product on the list.

One of the most popular examples of a tofu variant that might not be vegan-friendly is commonly reffered to as stinky tofu. This dish is a sort of fermented tofu, which is popular in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It adopted its name because of its strong pungent smell, sometimes compared to that of a sewage. The reason why it might not be suitable for vegans is mainly due to the fact that the tofu is often fermented in either shrimp brine or fermented dairy milk. Although it isn’t impossible to find stinky tofu that is vegan friendly, vast majority of these varieties will not be so it’s safer to ask beforehand.

Is Soy Milk and Tofu Vegan?

Soy milk and tofu is 100% vegan friendly. Soy milk and tofu are made from soybeans, which is a legume/plant-based food. The soy milk is extracted after soaking and boiling the beans, while tofu is what’s thickened into curd. The only ingredient in soy milk is soybeans and water while tofu is produced from soybeans, water, and a thickening. This makes it suitable for vegans to consume. However not all tofu is considered as vegan-friendly, as it would have to be pure and unprocessed. Some varieties of tofu have added animal products, which strictly disallowed in vegan diets.

Is Tofu Vegan_Alice's Kitchen

Can Vegetarians Eat Tofu?

Eating tofu is perfectly fine for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike, this delicious plant-based protein can be added to just about any stir-fry, soup, or pasta making it a fantastic replacement for meat in a vegan diet. Whether or not tofu is a vegetable, it certainly doesn’t keep vegetarians or vegans away, because it certainly isn’t an animal. Essentially it doesn’t contain anything from an animal, such as milk, eggs, or dairy, making it completely safe to consume for those on a plant-based diet.

How to Prepare Vegan Tofu For Any Recipe?

Sometimes tofu might have a bad reputation as a bland, soggy and dull protein. This misconception is from those eating tofu that hasn’t been thoroughly prepared. Tofu is a super easy protein to cook, with a few extra necessary steps that make it perfectly crispy. Here are the steps required to prepare tofu:

  • Remove the block of firm, or extra-firm tofu from the package
  • Press your tofu in a tofu press for 15 minutes, or press between two heavy plates for 2 to 3 hours. This step is vital as tofu is a sponge, and has absorbed lots of water
  • Marinate your tofu for 30 minutes in a sauce or marinade of your choice, no matter what you choose you should include some acid, like vinegar, or lemon ton help penetrate the entire tofu block
  • Remove the tofu from the marinae

From here you can decide what to do with your tofu, do you want to pan fry, bake or grill it?

Pan-fried

Chop your tofu into 1-inch blocks. Heat a pan or skillet to medium heat, add some cooking oil, and pan-fry on each side until they’ve turned golden brown (3-4 minutes).

Baked

Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut your tofu into 1 inch blocks, and spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping them halfway.

Grilled

Preheat your grill to medium heat. After 10 minutes of heating, use a BBQ brush to scrap your grill thoroughly. Use metal tongs, wipe the oil soaked paper towels on the grill, until its well oiled to prevent your tofu from sticking. Add your tofu to the grill, turn the heat down to low, and close the lid. Cook your tofu for 20 minutes flipping halfway.

Vegan Tofu Recipes

Tofu makes a great veggie alternative in stir-fries, soups, curries and more. This soy-based staple is high in protein, and adds lots of texture to meals and works well with spices. Here are a few scrumptious tofu recipes for you to try:

  • Mushroom Mapo Tofu
  • Charred Spring Onions & Teriyaki Tofu
  • Crispy Tofu
  • Tofu Scramble
  • Vegan Smoothie

Mushroom Mapo Tofu

Enjoy this vegan-friendly Chinese mapo tofu served with jasmine rice and steamed greens. With tender meaty mushrooms, and firm tofu making a wonderfully delicious combination. Check out the ingredients for this recipe below:

Ingredients

  • 400g fresh firm tofu block
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated ginger
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 150g fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced into 1cm strips
  • 1 tsp dry toasted whole Sichuan pepper
  • 1 tbsp chilli bean paste
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

Method

  1. Drain the tofu and press gently with a kitchen towel, removing any moisture gathered within. Alternatively you could place the tofu on a clean towel, place a clean medium chopping board over the tip and leave for 10 minutes to press out any remaining moisture. Slice them into 1.5 x 1.5cm sized chunks.
  2. Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a jug
  3. Heat a wok over high heat and drizzle some rapeseed oil. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies stir frying for a few seconds. Tip in the mushrooms and stir fry for a bit. Then add the Sichuan pepper and the tofu, gingerly stirring. Add the chilli bean paste and dark soy sauce, followed by the Shaoxing rice wine or sherry. Pour in the sauce ingredients, stir everything to combine bringing it to a bubble, cooking for 1 minute.
  4. Transfer this into a serving plate, and sprinkle over the ground toasted Sichuan pepper and spring onions to serve.

Charred Spring Onions & Teriyaki Tofu

Prepare this teriyaki tofu served with fluffy whole grain rice in just 30 minutes. Super easy and low in fat, this vegan-friendly dish is perfect for those busy weeknights. Let’s dive straight into this recipe:

Ingredients

  • 150g wholegrain rice
  • 50ml soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 350g firm tofu
  • 1 bunch spring onions, with the ends trimmed
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 sliced red chilli (optional)

Method

  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions. Pour the soy sauce, mirin, ginger, and honey into a small saucepan and add 50ml water. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 5 minutes or until it has slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
  2. If your tofu doesn’t feel firm to the touch, then you’ll need to apply some pressure to it. To do this wrap the block of tofu in a few layers of kitchen paper, then weigh it down with a heavy pan or tray for 10-15 minutes. The longer you press the firmer it will be. Cut the tofu into thick slices.
  3. Heat a griddle pan over high heat and lightly brush the tofu and spring onions with oil until deep char lines appear on both sides. You might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your griddle pan.
  4. Divide the cooked rice between two plates, top with tofu and spring onion, then drizzle with teriyaki sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced red chillies.

Crispy Tofu

Frying tofu in a blanket of smoked paprika, garlic, and seasoning to make these crunchy, crisp tofu bites. Have them as a snack, starter or as a side dish for a veggie feast.

Ingredients

  • 400g block firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Method

  1. Drain the tofu, wrap it in 4 to 5 sheets of kitchen paper, place it on a plate and place something heavy over it. Leave it for 20 minutes to drain the excess moisture from the tofu.
  2. Mix the cornflour, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Unravel the tofu from the paper, cut it in half through the centre, then cut into triangles, cubes or strips.
  3. Toss the tofu pieces in the spiced cornflour to coat it all over. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the tofu for 2-4 minutes on each side until they’re golden, crunchy and brown on the edges. Smaller cubes will take 2 minutes on each side, larger triangles will take 4 minutes.
  4. Drain the cooked tofu on kitchen paper and season with a pinch of salt before serving
  5. Drain the tofu, wrap it in 4 to 5 sheets of kitchen paper, place it on a plate and place something heavy over it. Leave it for 20 minutes to drain the excess moisture from the tofu.
  6. Mix the cornflour, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Unravel the tofu from the paper, cut it in half through the centre, then cut into triangles, cubes or strips.
  7. Toss the tofu pieces in the spiced cornflour to coat it all over. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the tofu for 2-4 minutes on each side until they’re golden, crunchy and brown on the edges. Smaller cubes will take 2 minutes on each side, larger triangles will take 4 minutes.
  8. Drain the cooked tofu on kitchen paper and season with a pinch of salt before serving

Tofu Scramble

Try this vegan spiced tofu with bright cherry tomatoes for an egg-free version of scramble on toast. Perfect for breakfast served on bread yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 280g extra firm tofu
  • 100g cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 small parsley bunch, chopped
  • rye bread

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and gently fry the onion for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and sticky. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, cumin, and paprika cooking for a minute
  2. Roughly mash the tofu in a bowl using a fork, keeping it chunky. Add it to the pan and fry for 3 minutes. Raise the heat then tip in the tomatoes, cooking for 5 or more minutes until they have begun to soften. Fold the parsley through the mixture, serve with rye bread or on its own.

Vegan Smoothie

A dairy free vegan smoothie with fruit juice, tofu, and oats to boost your energy levels at breakfast, or simply provide your body with sustenance in time for some vigorous exercise.

Ingredients

  • 100ml cherry juice
  • 200ml unsweetened soya milk
  • 1 cherry soya yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp silken tofu
  • 75g frozen cherry 2 tbsp porridge oat

Method

Measure all the ingredients roughly, using a glass for reference if necessary, as they don’t need to be exact. Put them into the blender and spin until smooth. Pour the contents of the blender into a glass and enjoy!

So is Tofu Vegan?

As long as the tofu being eaten has not been processed with other elements, or is not served with any type of meat, then tofu is perfectly safe and very suitable for vegans or vegetarians. It can be cooked with almost anything, adding a unique blend of flavours, to force some depth into it’s firm textured substance.

Is Tofu Vegan

FAQs

Why do Vegans Eat Tofu?

Tofu is made from soybean curds, its naturally gluten free and low in calories and is an important source of plant-based protein especially for vegans.

What is Tofu Made of?

Tofu is made from dried soybeans that are soaked in water, crushed and boiled. The mixture is separated into solid pulp and soy milk. Salt coagulants, such as calcium and magnesium chlorides and sulphates are added to the soy milk to separate the curds from the whey.

Is Tofu a Plant-Based Food?

Yes tofu is an excellent plant-based alternative to meat and dairy.