Vegetarian African food is at the heart of Humble Vege and the goal is to deliver amazing recipes. Some may have plant based meat alternatives, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious or nutritious. In fact, you might fall in love with them, like our recipes with firm tofu. Or maybe the ones featuring wheat gluten protein. Do these terms confuse you? Are you wondering what is plant-based food? Don’t worry, this article is here to explain all that. It will also give you some plant based meat alternatives for those that have chosen the vegetarian lifestyle or no-meat diet. Here, we are on a journey to learn about Africa through authentic plant-based meals. Interested to receive monthly updates? Sign up below.
So, what is plant-based food?
Plant based food is simply food consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. No meat, no fish, no eggs. Plant foods can make amazing vegetarian African food recipes; many Africans know about vegetarians not the other diet names, that is why our eggless recipes are called vegetarian African food. If you do not like eggs we have you covered too because these plant based meat alternatives also extend to replacing products like eggs. Here we show you how to bake and cook without eggs. To recap, plant-based food means just plants, solely plants. We will tell you if we ever use an ingredient that is not plant-based, so you can trust our recipes.
Plant based meat alternatives to remember
There are many alternatives out there, but we will just touch on a few. You may see this list and think, ‘These are just meatless dishes, not alternatives!’ The reason these are called plant based meal alternatives is because they make up for the nutrients that people usually rely on meat for, specifically protein. But meat isn’t the only source! Shocked? We haven’t even started.
Plant protein alternatives to chew on
These few plant proteins have a texture unlike other vegetables or grains. You can chew on them like meat and most of the time they absorb flavor, allowing you to control how you want them to taste. These are tofu and gluten wheat protein, which are popular.
- Tofu (the soybeans protein option): If you aren’t too sure what tofu is, you can start by reading this article. But in summary, it is soybean curd that comes in different levels of firmness. We have a number of recipes with firm tofu, like this spiced tofu stir fried rice. In the first linked article, we explain how tofu is low in sodium and high in protein. In fact, about 87% of a cup of firm tofu is protein. This is what makes it popular, even for non-vegetarians and vegans.
- Chickpeas tofu: The downside of soybean tofu is that some people are allergic to soy products. Does that mean no tofu for them? Luckily, no! Chickpeas/Burmese tofu (which kind of looks like cheese) is a plant based meat alternative that is made from water and chickpea flour. This makes it perfect for those with soy allergies and for those vegetarian African food recipes. It can be fried, curried, or put in a salad. You can also use this tofu in other recipes with firm tofu (subbing the sub) 🙂.
- Wheat gluten protein: made from wheat plant extract. It is typically used to make seitan for those plant based meat alternatives recipes. Seitan is super diverse and nutritious. You can even make it yourself! You just need some of that wheat gluten protein flour and you can even flavor it. For example, this seaweed seitan. Questions, thoughts? Comment below.
If you’re skeptical about the above mentioned or just want some alternatives that are veggie-er, we covered those too. These are some leafy/green proteins, and their inclusion in dishes is based on the vegetarian African food being made. You may get inspiration if you’re thinking of creating your own diy garden.
- Asparagus: Cooking asparagus can be tricky, but it is worth it as a plant based meat alternative. According to studies, it is a natural source of protein, with 2.2 grams of protein per 100 grams of asparagus. It is also low in calories and high in fiber, making it great for digestion as well.
- Asparagus is such a common meat substitute that people had to look for asparagus substitutes. Let’s face it; we don’t have the same taste buds, and sometimes we can’t find the same ingredients in our local stores. Some veggies don’t taste as good in some dishes as well, so it’s good to have subs. What is plant-based food without options anyway. So, other options are leafy greens like spinach, peas, broccoli, and kale or amaranth (which is rumored to be the new kale).
- Avocado: I know you know what avocados are and how they boast their healthy oils. I have one question for you though: salt or sugar? Let us know your answer to the question in the comment section. Although avocados only contain about 3 grams of protein per fruit, dieticians say that they provide other much needed nutrients. For example, antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Regularly consuming these will strengthen your body’s defense system, and possibly your cognitive function. Africans, you have this plenty!
- Mushroom: Technically, mushrooms are fungi, but we could not leave them out of this list. Not only do they contain protein, they also contain Vitamin B12. This is notable because it is very difficult to find in non-meat or animal sourced products. But, studies show that shiitake mushrooms naturally have it. It is important in the formation of red blood cells and deficiency can include symptoms like fatigue.
Key Things To Avoid
- Limited Mindset and Purist Behavior Hurts Your Food Options– The plant world is vast so prepare, be open to the possibilities of new protein options. Protein exists in all foods. Avoid any purist attitude, there is no ‘best of the best plant protein’. Sorghum is the best in its league and so is soybeans. Both are great options. Broaden your mindset, trust plants, and explore. Learn deeper about what is plant-based food.
- Find Out What Other Items Have Protein– This information helps you remain empowered no matter where you are in the world, or no matter your financial situation. You will not panic if you don’t have tofu, mushrooms, or seitan available if you know of more options in plant proteins.
- Staying to One Plant Protein is Bad– Nourishment is the goal so we must look to other plant foods to add the balance they claim only exists in animals. One or two plant protein dulls your palette, you become bored, disinterested with the no-meat lifestyle. Humans know very little about the plant world, there are vast options of plant proteins unknown. Do not let fear mongers stop you from learning and experimenting with plant foods.
Time to get cooking!
I hope we have answered your questions on what is plant-based food, and you can take away a few alternatives to use in many of your vegetarian African food recipes. From wheat gluten protein to recipes with firm tofu. Have fun exploring, and remember we have plenty of recipes if you need some guidance. Curious about a no-animal-meat food lifestyle? Peep instagram to see what I eat live😊.