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It’s a common misconception that following a vegan diet is difficult, but if you stock up on storecupboard staples, it can be a breeze. These five ingredients are some of the most useful ones and deserve a place in your pantry. You should be able to find them in health food stores, larger supermarkets and online.

Discover our top vegan recipes, healthy vegan dinners and check our review of the best vegan foods to buy. Plus, read up on the top 10 vegan protein sources and the best vegan protein powders.

What are the top vegan ingredients?

1. Agar-agar

Chai coconut mango creams

Known as ‘kanten’ in Japan, this jelly-like vegan substitute for gelatine is made by boiling seaweed. It’s commonly used as a stabiliser and thickener in jellies, preserves and ice cream. Sold in flakes or powdered form, agar agar is first dissolved in liquid then simmered to thicken. Use it in our creamy coconut pudding for a fruity and delicately spiced vegan, dairy, gluten and nut-free dessert, perfect for any dinner party.

Try it it in our chai coconut mango creams.

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2. Aquafaba

vegan Eton mess

Aquafaba is the strained water from a can of chickpeas. It does not immediately sound appetising, but when whipped with electric beaters, it transforms into a thick, fluffy consistency, just like eggs, and can be used to make vegan meringue. Who said vegans can’t eat pavlova?

Give it a go in our vegan Eton mess.

3. Gram flour

Rainbow Balti Bhajis

Sometimes called besan flour, gram flour is made from ground chickpeas and is commonly used in Indian cookery. It’s higher in protein than regular flours and can be used to whip up savoury vegan omelettes, pancakes, pakoras and flatbreads.
Gram flour is gluten-free and can even be used as a vegan egg substitute in baking. You can often find this in larger supermarkets.

Try it in our rainbow bhajis with coriander cream.

4. Nutritional yeast


These golden yellow flakes are a vegan’s best friend in the kitchen. They’re a source of vitamins and minerals and add a savoury, cheesy, nutty flavour to a dish making them useful in recipes where you’d normally use cheese.

Many varieties are fortified with vitamin B12 which is typically found in animal products so it’s a great way to boost your intake. Use nutritional yeast in a dairy-free mac ‘n’ cheese, in a vegan parmesan or sprinkled over salad, vegetables, soup or pasta.

Use it to make our vegan cashew parmesan.

5. Tempeh

Tempeh and vegetables in a tray

Pronounced ‘tem-pay’, tempeh is an excellent source of vegan protein made from whole soya beans that have been fermented and shaped into a firm block. It has an earthy, nutty flavour and a firm, meaty texture, similar to mushrooms. Packed with fibre and vitamins, tempeh is a delicious alternative to tofu and can be sliced, marinated and cooked to your liking.

Enjoy it in our colourful tempeh traybake.

Discover the health benefits of tempeh.

More on vegan diets...

Our best-ever vegan recipes
How to eat a balanced vegan diet
Spotlight on vegan diets
How to make vegan cheese

Do you use vegan ingredients at home? Tell us in the comments below…


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