Years ago, it would be very difficult to find vegetarian and vegan alternatives to meat, making it very difficult for people to change their diets. Now, there are a range of plant-based alternatives out there, such as seitan, soya, and pea protein, so being vegan is much easier! But Is tofu vegan or not?
Tofu is often marketed as a staple ingredient in plant-based diets.
However, there are many foods out there that people think are vegan but will actually contain a surprise ingredient or method of processing, which means it is actually not suitable for those trying to commit to a plant-based diet.
This begs the question, is tofu one of those foods?
In this article, we will let you know if tofu is vegan, and more! So, if this is of interest to you, read on for more!
What Is Tofu?
Tofu is a dish made using soybeans. The tofu you can find in grocery stores will typically come from soy milk that has been steamed and mixed with a thickening or coagulating agent, turning the soy milk into curd.
These milk curds are then pressed to form a rectangular block shape.
Tofu tastes mild and can easily absorb the flavor of the sauce that it is cooked or marinated in.
Is Tofu Suitable For Vegans?
Yes, tofu is suitable for vegans to eat (Also check out How To Make Crispy Tofu)! The tofu that you buy in grocery stores is typically plant-based and therefore suitable for those who follow a vegan diet.
However, it is important that you check the ingredients list on the back of the packaging because some altered or flavored tofu products actually add animal by-products or straight-up animal products, making it unsuitable for those following a plant-based diet.
Additionally, there is some tofu you can buy from restaurants that are made using shrimp brine or dairy milk. There is also something called “egg tofu”, which is actually made using stock and eggs and is not traditional tofu.
So, you should always double-check that something is vegan before you order or buy it.
However, you typically do not need to worry as most of the time, tofu on its own is a vegan product.
Are There Different Types Of Tofu?
Yes, there are different types of tofu. Tofu can differ in its use and texture.
Let’s check out the different types of tofu in more detail below!
Regular, Firm, And Extra-Firm Tofu
Regular, firm, and extra-firm tofu has a meaty, dense texture and is great for baking, grilling, and using in stir-fries.
Soft And Silken Tofu
Soft and silken tofu has a creamy, smooth texture that is very fragile and not suitable for cooking. However, it is great when mixed with baked goods and is, therefore, an excellent replacement for dairy when it comes to baking, soup, and dressing.
Is Tofu Good For You?
Tofu is a satisfactory source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. It is low in calories and saturated fats, but also high in magnesium and calcium!
One of the best things about tofu is that it contains all nine amino acids that are essential for the human body. This makes it a “complete protein.”
Additionally, soy, which is what tofu is made from, contains isoflavones which are healthy for the heart. These isoflavones can improve the flow of blood in the human body and are very beneficial for blood vessels.
Is Tofu Bad For You?
There have been some warnings against tofu that allude to the dangers of eating it. However, these warnings have been debunked, meaning tofu is perfectly fine to eat!
The isoflavones in soy, and therefore tofu, mimic estrogen, but this is reportedly not harmful to consume daily.
One other issue people had with tofu was the presence of anti-nutrients, which works to block trypsin, an enzyme useful for digesting protein, as well as reducing the absorption of essential minerals.
However, it was found that soaking and cooking soybeans will actually reduce, and can even eliminate, anti-nutrients. This happens during the process of making tofu.
Additionally, you can choose to eat sprouted soy tofu instead, which will remove these anti-nutrients altogether.
So, if you eat tofu in moderation, then it definitely is not bad for you! However, there are some brands of tofu that are made from soy crops that have been genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides.
So, it may be best to stick to quality tofu from organic brands.
What Are The Coagulants In Tofu?
To turn soymilk into a solid curd, then you will need to use a coagulant. The most popular coagulants for tofu are typically salt based such as Nigari salt, and calcium sulfate, known as gypsum.
Sometimes, the coagulants for tofu are enzyme coagulants and acid coagulants.
However, you can rest assured that all of these coagulants are suitable for vegans to consume.
Tofu is typically made by steaming and coagulating soy milk until it forms a curd, and then it is cut into rectangular blocks to be sold at stores. Tofu is typically vegan, so you can safely consume it while following a plant-based diet!
There are many different kinds of meals vegans can make using tofu. There is some tofu that is more firm that is great for cooking, grilling, etc, and there is also softer, more silky tofu that is more suitable for baking vegan desserts!
However, you should always check the back of the packaging before buying because some flavored tofu products also contain animal products or animal by-products.
Additionally, some tofu is made using dairy milk or shrimp brine, which renders it unsuitable for vegans.
Additionally, it may be better to buy organic tofu that has not been treated with pesticides or genetically modified.
Aside from this, tofu is good for vegans to eat as long as they do it in moderation. Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine amino acids essential for the human body. It is also low in calories and saturated fats.
We hope this article told you everything you need to know about tofu!