When it comes to food, it’s usually pretty simple to know if something is vegan or not. For example, if you see “eggs” or “milk” in a recipe, you can be certain it’s not vegan-friendly, but some ingredients can be more confusing. Case in point: yeast.
So, can vegans eat yeast? What’s all the confusion about?
The fact yeast is a living organism can make it seem like a no-go for vegans.
But have no fear! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting to learn about what’s vegan-friendly and what’s not, this handy guide will tell you everything you need to know about yeast and whether or not it can be included in your diet.
What Is Yeast?
Yeast is a fungus and is classified as a living organism.
Yeasts are happy wherever there’s sugar. It’s what they live for. And they make our lives happier, too, by converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas (a process called fermentation) for use in many tasty treats, such as; bread, beer, and wine.
Yeast is an excellent addition to any diet because it is rich in protein, minerals, and carbohydrates, as well as vitamin B.
Can Vegans Eat Yeast?
Turns out there’s no need to panic, the answer to the question “can vegans eat yeast” is: YES!
The majority of vegans do believe that yeast IS okay to eat.
The reason? Yeast is not an animal product and does not contain any animal byproducts.
Yeast is fungi and don’t have a nervous system or any brain function, so they are not considered sentient beings with feelings and emotions.
The “yeast is vegan” camp is also backed up by PETA, which believes that yeast can definitely be included in the list of approved foods for vegans. PETA even states on its website that: Yeast is everywhere—in your body and in the air, and it’s not derived from animals. So is yeast vegan? Yup!
The Different Types Of Yeast
It’s time to get to know your yeast. Not only is it a key ingredient in some of your favorite foods, but it’s also an essential part of many of the processes that keep your world running smoothly.
There are many different types of yeast. Here’s a quick breakdown of the 4 most popular:
Bakers yeast: Bakers yeast is the most widely used type of yeast, and it’s the kind you’ll find in your local grocery store. It’s a single-celled fungus that typically grows on the skin of grapes, which is why it can be found in wine as well. When it’s dried into a powder form and added to the dough, it helps the dough rise by producing carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. That gas gets trapped within the dough and expands, causing it to rise.
Baker’s yeast is often used in bread, but it can also be used for other baked goods such as doughnuts, cookies, and cakes.
Brewers yeast: Brewer’s yeast is produced by fermenting grains with water and then harvesting the resulting mixture. This type of yeast has been used for centuries by people who brewed alcoholic beverages such as beer or wine. Brewer’s yeast contains many nutrients including protein, vitamins, and minerals; it has also been shown to boost energy levels in some people due to its high concentration of B vitamins (which are typically found in meats).
Yeast extract: Yeast extract is made by boiling down bakers’ yeast until it becomes thick and sticky, then adding flavorings like malt syrup or molasses. The result is a thick brown paste that can be used as an ingredient in just about anything from soups, stews, sauces, and dips—or even eaten straight out of the jar!
Nutritional yeast AKA Nooch: If you’re a vegan, you probably already know what nooch is. If not, let us enlighten you: it’s the magical ingredient that makes your food taste like cheese without going near dairy.
Nooch is a powerhouse of vitamins, including folic acid and B12. It’s also a good source of protein—it packs about 8 grams per tablespoon! That makes it a great addition to any dish that needs some extra oomph in terms of nutrients or protein content.
If you’re looking for the best nutritional yeast out there, it’s this one by Engevita. It’s tried and tested, and it’s rated very highly by thousands of vegans.
But if you’re new to cooking with nutritional yeast, it can be tricky to know how to use it. Luckily, we found an epic vegan recipe by ElaVegan using nutritional yeast that will have you feeling like a pro in no time!
-3/4 cup (180 ml) coconut milk canned
-3 tbsp (20 g) nutritional yeast flakes
-2 tbsp (15 g) tapioca flour OR arrowroot flour/starch
-1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
-1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
-1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
-Pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
Put all ingredients into a saucepan and stir with a whisk. Once everything is combined, turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly.
Let simmer on low to medium heat for about one minute until the sauce is stretchy.
Enjoy this vegan cheese sauce with nachos, on pizza, over pasta, and many other savory dishes!
And there you have it: the truth, about yeast.
Not only can vegans eat yeast, but they should! It’s a good source of protein and B vitamins, as well as other essential nutrients.
So go ahead and enjoy your favorite bread, vegan pastries, and nooch-flavoured dishes—just don’t forget to thank the yeast for doing all the hard work for you!