Veganuary Update: Why I Have a Love-Hate Relationship With Tofu

This white block of soy is a classic in a vegan diet. Some like it, some don't.
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Tofu gebraten in einer Schale Amarita

Since this January, I’ve been eating a totally plant-based diet and I’ve already developed a love-hate relationship with tofu. As a new vegan, my evening usually looks like this: I stand at my kitchen unit and chop a block of tofu into cubes. I then add roasted vegetables and a side dish like potatoes, buckwheat or pasta. While the other ingredients vary, tofu ends up on my plate more often than not. So why tofu? Tofu’s rich in protein. Depending on the type of tofu, there’s about 13 grams of protein per 100 grams. The body needs enough protein every day, and not just for muscle building: Proteins are essential for many vital body functions. They act as transport proteins, support the immune system and are involved in the blood clotting process.

Why I Love Tofu

Of course, there are other vegetable protein sources besides tofu. Believe me, I’ve already tried quite a few, like quinoa and beans. But nothing beats tofu yet, and there are two good reasons for this. Number one is its nutritional value: Tofu provides all the essential amino acids that your body can’t produce itself. This makes it a complete source of protein, similar to chicken and fish, so I don’t have to combine different proteins to make sure I cover the complete amino acid profile. Since I’ve only recently gone vegan, tofu is the easiest and fastest way I can completely meet my protein needs, just like with Vegan Protein.

Quinoa also has a high nutritional value, but I view the pseudo-cereal as more of a garnish than a source of protein. This brings us to the second reason: Tofu contains hardly any carbohydrates compared to most vegan protein sources. It’s also low in calories and provides healthy unsaturated fats too.

Why I Hate Tofu

You might be wondering why I have a love-hate relationship with tofu when it seems like I’m singing its praises. Once again, there’s more than one reason for this.

Tofu has a neutral taste, which is both a curse and a blessing. Especially as a new vegan, it can be challenging to make a really tasty tofu dish. You have to know how to season the tofu yourself, which is a skill I do not possess. In the past, salt, pepper and maybe a little cayenne pepper were more than enough for me. These days, I’m having to experiment more and more. Tofu has motivated me to try new spices and combinations to improve its taste. Yesterday I even whipped up a dressing of cashew puree, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. This is really uncharacteristic of me and it took some effort, but it was worth it for the taste.

Smoked tofu exists too, of course, and this variety has more flavor, but even this can get boring in the long run. I know that tofu’s not only versatile, but also tastes different according to how it’s prepared, but in everyday life, I don’t always have the desire or the time to whip up a new tofu creation to keep tantalizing my tastebuds.

Going Vegan Is a Process

The transition to a vegan diet isn’t going to happen overnight. As a new vegan, I’m still pretty much at the beginning of this journey and I definitely don’t know all the options yet. But I’ve promised myself to look more closely at my diet and to try out more vegan recipes. January is a long month, so who knows, maybe my relationship with tofu will have a happy ending after all.

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