Tofu is an extremely adaptable food that may be used in countless dishes and soups, either raw or cooked with meat, veggies, or both. But is tofu vegan?

It can also be processed further to create a variety of secondary tofu products, such as fermented tofu, deep-fried tofu, savory tofu, grilled tofu, frozen tofu, dried-frozen tofu, etc (KeShun Liu., 2008)[i]

Want to know more about tofu? Also check out:

What is tofu?

Tofu is a yogurt that is prepared entirely from soybeans and resembles either a very firm yogurt or a soft white cheese.

Water, soy lipids, and other ingredients are caught in the network of the soy protein gel that forms tofu, which is then salt- or acid-coagulated.

It is affordable, filling, and adaptable. On a wet basis, a typical piece of pressed tofu with a moisture level in the range of 85% comprises 200 mg of calcium per 100 g, 7.8% of protein, and 4.2 percent of fat.

About 50% of it is protein, 20% is oil, and the rest is made up of minerals and carbs on a dry matter basis.

You can use tofu in place of cheese or beef. It has less saturated fat, no cholesterol, and no lactose.(Mingruo Guo Dr, in Functional Foods: Principles and Technology, 2009)[ii]

What is tofu made of?

Soy, which is a component of tofu, has numerous health advantages for any diet. Soy is a particularly good meat alternative because it is naturally cholesterol-free.

That particular lipid is exclusive to animal products; soy does not have it. As you are aware, cholesterol should be avoided because it raises the risk of heart disease.

In addition, soy is a fantastic source of fiber and several vital vitamins. Additionally, a cup of soybeans has 68 grammes of protein, which is a significant amount.

That’s advantageous, because being a vegan might make it challenging to obtain sources of rich protein.[vii]

Portion of diced tofu (detailed close-up shot) on wooden background

What is tofu kori (dried-frozen tofu)?

Dried, frozen tofu is called kori tofu. The dehydration procedure has no negative effects on the material’s nutritional value or digestion. Its’ texture after being rehydrated is quite different from the tofu’s initial texture.

When soymilk is coagulated with calcium chloride, hard tofu with a sandy texture is created. This is the beginning of the kori tofu production process.

The mixture is strained of the whey, and then mixed to break down the curds. As a result, more whey is released and eliminated.

After that, the curds are moved to wooden boxes for pressing(Lester A. Wilson, in Practical Handbook of Soybean Processing and Utilization, 1995)[iii]

Types of tofu:

There are several varieties of tofu, all with distinctive textures and applications.

Tofu that is firm, extra-firm, or ordinary has a rich, slightly meaty texture and is ideal for baking, grilling, and stir-frying in many of your favorite recipes.

Silken tofu is a very soft version that has a smooth, creamy texture, and is too delicate to be cooked on its own.

The ideal recipes to utilize silken tofu in is as a dairy substitute for dressings, sauces, soups, other creamy dishes, and baking because of its creamy and slightly sweet mild flavor, and its ability to become semi-solid.

Is tofu vegan friendly?

Yes! All types of tofu are vegan-friendly. However, occasionally producers will change the composition of their tofu with additional substances, rendering it non-vegan.

Soybean and minerals are utilized to shape the tofu. Despite the variations in taste and texture, that is the way all tofu is cooked. Even though the texture may lead you to believe otherwise, the basic components are the same.

Sometimes tofu is made in the same facility as dairy products. The factory or even the production line could be the same.

Because some trace levels of dairy can be present, it can be challenging to determine if your tofu is completely dairy-free.

Famous in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, stinky tofu is fermented with dairy milk or a brine made from shrimp.

A Japanese dish called egg tofu has the texture of tofu but is made using eggs and stock instead of tofu.

Always check the label on flavored and modified tofu products to make sure no animal products or byproducts were included.[iv]

Is tofu good for you?

Tofu is vegan and reasonably priced, but is it healthy for you? Given that we highlighted soy’s outstanding nutritional advantages in our main soy piece, the answer is obviously yes.

It’s definitely a great option for anybody trying to consume more protein. While the specific nutrition will differ depending on the variety of tofu, it is generally the same.

The main exception to that rule is when milk is coagulated using calcium sulphate, often known as gypsum, but that is a separate substance. In this case, the resulting tofu will also be a fantastic vegan calcium source.[v]

All forms of conventional tofu and variations thereof are vegan. This covers a variety of tofu varieties, including as hard, ordinary, silken, and many more.

Simply put, tofu is just soy that has been mineral-pressed together. These nutrients are undoubtedly vegan as well.

Tofu is a fantastic dish that is suitable for both meat eaters and vegetarians. It is low in carbohydrates, high in proteins, and rich in several vital vitamins. Additionally, it lowers blood pressure and is excellent for illness prevention.[vi]

Organic raw soy tofu block on a wooden background

Estrogen in tofu

Tofu includes plant estrogens, just like other soy-based meals. People believed that soy added too much estrogen to the body and caused breast cancer in women for a long time.

However, a lot of the research that sparked that worry focused on how soy affected rodents. These animals digest soy in a different way than do us.

Tofu doesn’t contain enough plant estrogens to cause breast cancer, according to human studies. And, according to some studies, tofu may reduce your risk of contracting the illness. Also:

1. Could help with hot flashes: 

Following the pattern, researchers found that most Japanese women had fewer hot flashes than women from other nations.

According to studies, the estrogens in tofu (and other soy-based foods) reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in women going through menopause.

cardiovascular disease. Plant estrogens can contribute to lowering your risk of developing heart disease. That’s because they make your endothelium function better. And that’s the tissue that lines underside your heart and blood vessels.

degrees of cholesterol. According to research, consuming 10 ounces of tofu each day can reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol levels by 5%.[viii]

2. Includes antinutrients

Tofu contains numerous antinutrients, like the majority of plant-based meals. These substances reduce your body’s capacity to absorb nutrients from food and are naturally present in plant-based diets.

These two categories of antinutrients are present in tofu:

  1. Phytates: Minerals including calcium, zinc, and iron may not be absorbed as well by these substances.[ix]
  2. Trypsin Inhibitors: Trypsin, an enzyme required for the correct digestion of proteins, is blocked by these substances. Additionally, this could result in indigestion, bring on stomach pain, and hinder the absorption of several nutrients.[x]

Antinutrient concentration can be decreased through fermentation. Because of this, the vitamins and minerals present in fermented, probiotic soy foods like miso, tempeh, tamari, and natto tend to be absorbed more readily.[xi]

Isoflavones occasionally behave in a similar way to the hormone estrogen, however they have a less potent impact.

Other times, these substances behave differently from estrogen. For instance, isoflavones do not promote vaginal maturation or elevate inflammatory markers.[xii]

In a different study, soy protein-rich food consumption for 6 weeks resulted in considerably lower blood sugar and insulin levels in women with gestational diabetes than non-soy protein diet consumption.[xiii]

Tofu’s soy isoflavone content may contribute in some measure. But a 2017 study on the health benefits of soy foods for type 2 diabetes was unable to establish a direct connection with tofu in particular.[xiv]

My favorite tofu recipes:

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