This is one of my absolute favorite memes about vegans.
Everyone asks you about protein, but no one seems to care about the nutrients that are way harder to include in a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. While calcium, vitamin D, and iron are a little difficult to find among plant-based foods, I would say the hardest nutrient recommendation to meet is the one for Vitamin B12.
In the simplest explanation, Vitamin B12 is vital to keeping our nervous and blood systems healthy, as well as to producing DNA. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in fatigue and weakness, or in extreme cases, anemia. While calcium, vitamin D, and iron naturally occur in small amounts in plant foods, B12 is only naturally found in animal products. Thus, vegans have to search for fortified foods or take a supplement regularly to meet the 2.4mcg recommended dietary allowance.
Supplements are a great option if that’s what you prefer, but I like getting the most nutrition from my food so that I don’t have to remember to take a pill everyday. These are some of my favorite foods fortified with B12:
- Silk plant milks: While most plant milks are fortified with calcium (Vit D fortification is also getting more popular), Silk appears to be the only brand I have seen that also fortifies with B12. One cup of the almond milk contains 50% the daily value (DV) for B12.
- Cereals: Vegan-friendly brands of cereals fortified with B12 include Kellogg’s All Bran (100%DV) and Multigrain Cheerios (25% DV), both of which are good sources of fiber and much lower in added sugar than most cereals.
- Bars: Had a tough time finding vegan bars with B12. The only one I saw was the Odwalla protein bar (25% DV), although I recommend it more as an occasional treat because the first few ingredients are sugar.
- Vegan meats: Veggies dogs and pepperoni from Yves contain 10-15% the DV for B12 per serving.
- Tofu:Nasoya manufactures Organic Tofu Plus, which was created to meet the nutrients vegetarians and vegans may be lacking in their diets. A serving will give you 20% the DV forB12. Tofu is found in chilled section of the produce aisle, although not all stores carry this brand.
- And….the best for last: Nutritional yeast. In slang, it’s called “nooch”. One tablespoon of this stuff will give you a whopping 40% the DV forB12.
Nooch, which can be found in the organic or natural foods section for about $7, makes foods taste like cheese, so you can add it to things like popcorn, pizza, salsa, and in the case of this week’s recipe, a tofu scramble.
Besides the nutritional yeast, you may also choose to use turmeric in this recipe. This adds to the bright yellow color that will mimic the look of scrambled eggs. Turmeric stains, so don’t wear a white shirt while making this recipe.
This is another customizable recipe. As long as you have the basic ingredients of garlic, tofu, nutritional yeast, and turmeric, the rest of the vegetables and add-ins are up to you. For color, I chose spinach, green onions, and red bell peppers. For flavor, I also sautéed yellow onions before adding the tofu. For tradition’s sake, I added avocado on top before serving.
Recipe: Tofu vegetable scramble (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
- 1 12oz block of firm tofu, drained
- 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbs turmeric
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cups spinach
- Green onions, chopped, for garnish
- Oil, for cooking
- Optional toppings: avocado, sriracha, ketchup, hoisin sauce, soy sauce.
- Heat an oiled large pan to medium. Add garlic and yellow onion.
- While garlic and onion are browning, drain tofu and cut into small cubes.
- Add tofu to pan after onions have browned slightly. Use spatula to break into smaller pieces, resembling a scrambled egg.
- Add vegetables to pan and cook until water from the tofu has evaporated and vegetables have reduced in size (about 5 minutes).
- Add turmeric and nutritional yeast, stir until an egg color forms. Turn of heat and garnish with green onions.
- Season to taste and serve with desired toppings. Great as a side dish with rice or by itself!
Assuming that the Nasoya Organic Tofu Plus is used for this recipe, 1/4th of this recipe would give you 40% the DV for Vitamin B12.
Maybe it’s time for a new meme?