calling all vegans

Joined Aug 13, 2004
I would like to know how vegan cooks feel about prepared items like Gardien, enger-G, and New Balance? Do you rely on this sort of product or are you more dedicated to whole foods? And, of course, why?
Joined Aug 13, 2004
Okay, so we have no vegans out there. How about this? What do you "regular" food people think about prepared products that are made to stand in for real foods? For instance, this new stevia-based Pure Via as a sugar substitute or hydrolyzed vegetable protien (HVP), the center of a recent major recall, that is actually an MSG sub. 
Joined Feb 1, 2007
As with so many things, the bottom line becomes a big "it depends."

Take the stevia thing. Personally, I see no reason to substitute anything for sugar. But Friend Wife is a diabetic, so, realisticallyi, I have to be aware of these things. We tried stevia several years ago, when it first became available. Unfortunately, there's a distinct aftertaste. And quite a learning curve, considering that it's 300X sweeter than sugar.

So, brand names aside, there is a real reason for things like stevia. Subbing with it isn't the same as opening a can of cream of mushroom.

In general, I'm not against making substitutions. But I don't care for the trend of "substituting" not because it makes the dish better, but merely because it's more convenient.
Joined Apr 21, 2009
 My wife is vegetarian, so that's how I cook at home. Despite rules being different, I think the issues are similar. I avoid anything like mock duck or tvp/hvp, but for taste issues, not philosophical ones. I find them gross. I don't like the idea of having to fake out your eaters, and there are lots of recipes available to provide you with a balanced diet without using them.

Things like stevia to me are not a vegan issue at all, it is a a different concern of how processed foods are, unless I'm missing something.

You can look at Dirt Candy ( one of the few vegetarian restaurants I really enjoy as a meat eater, mostly because the chef isn't trying to imitate anything. And she writes alot about vegetarian/vegan food on their site.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
meh, and bleah come to mind. Along with the idea "I feel sorry for people that have to eat that".  foods that rely on chemicals I just view as suspicious. If i can't recognize it I usually don't eat it. while i do eat some processed foods, i try to stick to the monsters I know like  hot dogs, salami, corn flakes, canned tomatoes and on the rarest of instances a small tin of SPAM (it just grosses out my wife heheh).  I too see no reason to replace sugar or honey or make fake "meat" out of something that was never meant to be meat.
Joined Mar 9, 2010
Vegans don't eat prefab that looks and taste like meat ....that sounds like a lazy vegan to me   and that stuff is full of sodium and chemicals we can't even pronounce! Good Chefs know what's in their food.

Grill up some Portabellas they are meaty in texture and along with some grilled Red Peppers and Zuchinni, Red Onion ...toss around in some Pesto and Whole Grain Pasta have a complete Protein.....and that's fast food!
Cook Up a batch of Lentil Soup freeze in portions .....excellent source of food
Quinoa is best source of protein in the vegetable kingdom ...Tru-Roots brand is good  (Costco),I make it like Tabouleh in place of bulgar ,keep in fridge and bring it to work with you ..or grab as a snack
 Add Mandarins and Almonds to Spinach Salad....a peice of multi grain baguette and complete protein

Keep Soya Snacks around the house and try not to fill up on Carbs it's so easy to do that being Vegan ...fillup on fruit instead and add honey frequantly to marinades , salad dressing, toast, tea ,whatever   (it's very high in B12)

I'm not Vegan ...but have been A Personal Chef for some ...if you'd like some more idea's let me know

Happy Veganism

Joined Jan 9, 2008
 I don't see a problem with using products that stand in for the real thing.  For some people who are in transition from a diet that included meat to a vegetarian or vegan based diet it is a good choice.  Personaly I have used 'Ives' tofu products such as the beefy crumbles which is supposed to be like ground beef.  It actually has the texture just not the taste.  Where I like to use it is in a vegetarian chili con carne (I know that's an oxymoron) which has fooled many of my carnivorous friends.  Knowing where and how to use a product like that can make a healthy alternative not so alien to the consumer.

  I don't know what all the hype about stevia is.  I have grown it in my gardens for the last five years.  I dry the leaves, grind it into powder and offer it as green sugar XXX  use sparingly is the warning on all my containers as I have ruined way too many dishes with that herb and I have a sweet tooth.
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Joined Feb 3, 2010
I don't know what all the hype about stevia is.  I have grown it in my gardens for the last five years.  I dry the leaves, grind it into powder and offer it as green sugar XXX  use sparingly is the warning on all my containers as I have ruined way too many dishes with that herb and I have a sweet tooth.

OooOoooh!!  It'll grow in Alberta?  That must mean it'll grow here in Southern Ontario. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif   Did you start yours from seed, or seedlings?  Mail order, or local supplier?  I would LOVE to grow some to use in my baking.  I often joke with my customers that our baking is calorie-sugar-guilt free; it would make me very happy if I could say that for real.

Gha, this is a blatant hijack.  I'll start a new thread in the Chef's Garden forum....

1 Tsp Stevia (powered) = 1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Stevia (liquid) = 1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tsp Stevia = 1 Tbsp Sugar
6 Drops liquid Stevia = 1 Tbsp Sugar
A pinch of Stevia = 1 Tsp sugar
2 drops liquid stevia = 1 Tsp sugar
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Charron, could you double check that chart? It doesn't make sense that 1 teaspoon of stevia equals a cup of sugar, but a half teaspoon is equal to a tablespoon.
Joined Sep 18, 2008

1 Tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1 ounce = 2 tablespoons or 6 teaspoons
1 cup = 8 ounces or 16 tablespoons or 48 teaspoons

Now, those are "volume" measurements, NOT weight!

In "Googling" conversions, remember that different suppliers of Stevia concentrate or dilute the results differently so use the guidelines carefully, most all of which will tell you they are approximations.
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Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
hydrolyzed vegetable protien (HVP), the center of a recent major recall, that is actually an MSG sub. 
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is a substitute for MSG?  Don't make things up.  Have you tried putting HVP in your food lately?
Joined Aug 13, 2004
This has turned into a really interesting discussion. I was curious why vegans would want to eat things that looked like chicken and bacon but when no one came along I changed it to HVP and stevia. 

On the stevia, I'm interested in the fact that the new processed Tru-via is not really that nice ground herb that we grow in our gardens but a crystallized version that hasn't been tested much. Reminds me of those old sacchrine as good and then evil days.

As for making things up, kuan, I haven't put any MSG or HVP in my food lately, but according to lots (15 pdf pages worth) of companies who say "no MSG" on their boxes are actually using HVP as a flavor enhancer. I didn't make it up but maybe the folks at did

Like many of the posters above, I'm all about just eating good plain food like quinoa. I might add ham to it but I try to get a product that is locally produced and free of as many chemicals as possible. What gets my goat is when things are supposed to be all natural and organic and they get recalled because they used some mass-produced ingredient from Nevada that is full of salmonella.  
Joined Jan 9, 2008
  I was researching HVP when I come across another chemical called 3-MCPD It's a chemical that belongs to the chemical family of chloropropanols.  It is also carcenogenic and is commonly found in cheap soy, hoisin and oyster sauces.  Apperantly the process used involves hydrochloric acid.  The false brewing process or rapid acid hydrolyzed soy protein process used to make cheaper sauces apperantly creates higher than allowable standards of  3-MCPD.  Another reason to go the natural route.
Joined Aug 27, 2009
 I was never a vegan but I used to be a vegetarian for nearly 10 years.  And I ate plenty of mock meats like Boca Burgers and Tofu Pups.  During that time I didn't really think there was anything wrong with them.  It wasn't until I started eating meat again that I noticed how off the taste of those items were.  Now I only use real foods when I make vegetarian meals, except for tofu on occasion.  The only real problem is when I visit my family, who are all still vegetarians and still eat that stuff.  
Joined May 2, 2010
I am an Executive Chef in the industry but I am also a Vegan.  In my recipes, I love to use substitute food such as you mentioned.  Earth Balance is one of my favorites.  Im not too stoked on Gardein since I think it tastes odd but I am always substituting healthier options and guests dont even know that they are not eating "real" butter, vegetable stock verses chicken in their rice, soups...rice milk verses real milk in their mashers... Why not try and teach people that we can eat everything they do but in a much healthier way.  I hope this helps
Joined Jun 2, 2014
I love Ener-g and Earth Balance. I use those items for alot of vegan baking and cooking. Not only are those items incredibly helpful for more challenging recipes, they're natural and quality products. 

The one item I refuse to use is veganaise. Making a vegan aioli is alot more cost effective and you can control the quality and flavor. 

I dont see Ener-g and Earth Balance as packaged, pre made foods. I see them as base ingredients. Replacing the magic of egg yolks and butter with these items helps create almost everything you would miss when on a vegan diet. 
Joined Mar 30, 2011
I don't have a lot to say however I have cooked a lot for my son that was vegan. I used Ener-G and vital wheat gluten quite often. TVP left a lot to be desired. What we didn't like was food made to mimic other foods, that a vegan wouldn't eat, such as a meatloaf.  It just didn't make any sense because if you are vegan you don't pretend to eat meat. If he wanted meat he would not have been a vegan.  We were both much more pleased with recipes that simply used whole food ingredients in creative and new ways.  Using spiral cutters to make vegetables into noodles was a lot of fun and the variety was great. I am really happy to see more interest in vegan meals.  
Joined Dec 7, 2014
I would like to know how vegan cooks feel about prepared items like Gardien, enger-G, and New Balance?

I prefer the taste of Earth Balance vegan butter substitute. I feel that if a person is successfully transitioning from an unhealthy traditional American diet using these products, that's a positive application. As part of a normal diet and in terms of an energy budget, these products are less sustainable than whole foods.
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