Vegan Vocab

A few definitions for the newbies.


agar agar:  a transparent odourless type of seaweed used as a thickener in recipes; substitute for gelatine to set puddings, flans etc. nb: gelatin is made from boiled animal bones and sinews – yuk!

agave nectar: a low GI natural sweetener derived from the wild agave plant; vegan substitute for honey or white sugar.

amaranth: a tiny seed rich in protein and calcium. They have a slight peppery flavour and can be produced into flour or flakes.  Amaranth flour is very high in protein, fibre and lysine (an essential amino acid).

buckwheat: a nutritious higher protein alternative to rice. It is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. Perfect grain substitute for gluten and wheat intolerant people.

buckwheat flour: a gluten-free flour alternative made by grinding buckwheat groats into a flour.  Great in pasta, noodles (soba), pancakes and other baked goods.

calcium: an essential mineral essential for bone and teeth health.

cannellini: a white Italian kidney bean.

casein: a major protein found in milk, may cause adverse reactions for people with dairy sensitivities

chickpea: a high protein legume which can be germinated and sprouted (eaten raw). AKA garbanzo beans.

chickpea flour: made from ground dry chickpeas. AKA gram flour or besan flour.

couscous: a quick cooking tiny pasta made of semolina, it’s typical of Moroccan dishes.

edamame: versatile young, green soybeans which can be added to a variety of dishes such as salads, soups and stir fries. Great as a snack too sprinkled with sea salt or dipped with tamari.

folic acid: assists in the formation of red blood cells.

iron: aids in transporting oxygen in the blood and maintaining a healthy immune system. Examples of iron-rich vegan foods are spinach, lentils, tofu and other leafy veg.

kamut:  similar looking long grain (related to wheat) to brown basmati rice.  Slightly nutty flavour.  It is a high energy grain rich in protein and contains vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, thiamine to name a few. Less fibrous than wheat.

kamut flour:  may be able to be tolerated by some wheat allergy sufferers, substitute for wheat when making bread and pasta.

kasha: AKA roasted  or toasted buckwheat groats. Interestingly, it’s the Russian name for buckwheat groats which have been toasted in oil in order to bring out a sweeter, nuttier flavour.

kombu: edible kelp widely eaten in East Asia; often added to Japanese dishes. Other seaweed types are arame, wakame, kurome, coralline, hijiki, nori, dulse. Good source of glutamic acid, dietary fibre and iodine.

maca:  a superfood directly descended from the Incas!    Chock full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and all the essential amino acids.  Add a teaspoon to smoothies or desserts.

matcha:  also known as maccha, its a finely ground or finely milled green tea.  Centred around Japanese tea ceremonies, modern uses include using it as a flavour for cheesecakes, mocha and soba (buckwheat) noodles.  Said to be 30x more nutritious than regular green tea.

mesquite: a traditional Native American staple food, it has a sweet and caramel-ly flavour.  It’s high in protein and contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, and the amino acid lysine.  Add mesquite powder to smoothies and desserts, or use mesquite flour in baking.

mirin: Japanese rice wine; adds sweetness to Asian dishes.

miso: a thick paste made of fermented soybeans; used as a soup base, marinade and dressing.

mung bean:  most nutritious when sprouted, it can be sprinkled onto salads, turned into pudding, raw mung bean milk, puddings, icecreams or cakes! Contains protein, vitamin C, folic acid, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, mangainese, phosphorus and thiamine.  High fibre, low fat and sodium with nil cholesterol.

nama shoyu: unfermented soy sauce. ‘Nama’ means raw or unpasteurised and ‘shoyu’ translates to soy sauce in Japanese.

nutritional yeast: Chock-full of B vitamins, it has a cheesy flavour that can be sprinkled on salads or used to make vegan cheesy sauces or nut cheeses.

potassium: regulates fluid retention and assists with kidney function. Bananas and potatoes are a good source.

protein: the building blocks of muscle, found in quinoa, tempeh, tofu, broccoli, kale and many other vegan foods.

quinoa: A South American gluten-free small grain. So versatile! Quinoa can be used in salad, soup, curry and even cookies. Able to be sprouted or ground into flour.

raw vegan: vegan who only consumes foods that are not heated above 45 degrees celsius (raw vegans believe nutrient loss occurs above this temperature)

rennet: an enzyme secreted from the lining of a calf’s stomach, it’s used in most commercial cheeses.

seitan: meat substitute usually cut into chunks or slices; made by mixing wheat gluten powder with water and seasonings to make a pliable chunky dough. It is then cooked.

tahini: paste made from sesame seeds frequently used in Middle Eastern cooking; great substitute for peanut butter and is also used to make hummus and baba ganoush.

tamari – a variety of Japanese soy sauce which is often free of wheat and gluten.  

tempeh: typically made of fermented soybeans, tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food which can be steamed, fried, grilled or added into soups. Full of fibre and protein, it’s very filling and is a healthy alternative to meat.

textured vegetable protein (TVP): a meat substitute made from dehydrated soybeans. Excellent substitute for ground beef, easily prepared (rehydrate with boiling water or stock) and transported (ideal for camping or travelling). It readily absorbs flavours and seasonings like tofu.

tofu: versatile food made from soybean curds. This protein source comes in a variety of textures: silken, soft and firm. Easily replaces eggs or dairy products eg. quiche, sour cream, feta, mayo, cheesecake, smoothies and mousse.

vegan: a vegetarian who only consumes plant-based foods (no foods of animal origin such as eggs and dairy products).

veganise: to modify a recipe by substituting plant-based foods for animal products and by-products.

vitamin A: essential vitamin to maintain a healthy heart, vision, immune system and great skin. Examples include apricots, broccoli, carrots, kale, mango, papaya, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato.

vitamin C: an antioxidant which combats the negative effects free radicals have on our bodies. Vit C-rich foods include grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes.

vitamin E: an antioxidant which helps keep skin smooth and supple.

vitamin K: required for blood coagulation. Vegan foods containing vitamin K include avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kiwis, parsley, spinach.

whey: liquid by-product of the cheese-making process; an ingredient in crackers, cakes, and processed foods.

yacón: grown in the Andes, its a crisp, sweet root vegetable.  Yacón syrup is used in desserts as a sugar substitute. Its been described as hybrid between a fresh apple and watermelon, hence its calling card as the ‘apple of the earth’.  Not to be confused with jicama, yacón is a relative of the sunflower and Jerusalem artichoke.

yuba: tofu skin; AKA beancurd sheet. Can be thrown into soups and stir fries and readily found in Asian grocery stores.

One thought on “Vegan Vocab

  1. This list rocks!! Was great discovering words I hadn’t even heard of! And really interesting clarifying the ones I had but wasn’t 100% on the definition. Fantastic idea 🙂

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