Is bread vegetarian? I can hear you ask the question! In the main, of course, it is. However, vegetarians and vegans do need to be very careful if they buy the industrial loaf because industrial bakers often add a flour improver called L-Cysteine that can be made from animal sources (feathers, fur, pig bristles) including human hair. This article is not about that but if you would like to read more about that, please click here.
This article is about vegetarian and vegan bread and if you keep reading you will find easy recipes for vegetarian and vegan bread. That is to say bread recipes that enhance vegetarian and vegan diets, bread recipes that include high protein items such as grains, seeds, and nuts and also vegetables! Yes! You can knead almost anything into bread dough and the result is delicious. More important, vegetarian and vegan bread provides valuable variety to a diet that is, by choice, more limited than the omnivorous diet.
We all need protein and the full compliment of vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. Meat eaters find this easier but may also open themselves up to health issues related to eating too much animal protein. It can be really difficult for vegetarians and vegans to get enough protein and enough vitamins and minerals – especially the full compliment of the B vitamins and the minerals that are suspended in animal fats. A good part of the answer really is in bread.
Wholemeal flour (wheat, spelt or rye) contains the germ of the grain and the germ of the grain is one of the very few sources of the full compliment of B vitamins, essential for brain and nervous system health. So, just eating whole meal flour gets all of us a long way to better health – and especially people who eat neither beef, nor organ meat, nor enough marmite and/or nutritional yeast to sink a ship on a regular basis (these are the only other sources of the full complex chain of B vitamins).
Seeds are an excellent source of just about everything and they compliment bread really well. Soak them over night so that you can digest them really well, drain them, and add them into basic bread dough for added flavour and nutrition. Sprinkle them on top of bread for beauty and flavour!
Nuts are full of minerals and contain really valuable fats. You can soak them too or you can dry roast them (brings out their flavour) and add them to your basic bread dough for added flavour and nutrition.
Grains are the protein power house for vegetarians and vegans. Millet, buckwheat, quinoa, barley and the humble oat are just a few of the grains that vegetarians and vegans should eat regularly. You can cook more than you require for dinner and add the left over to a basic bread recipe or you can simply add flour made of grains to whole wheat or spelt flour to make great tasting bread.
Vegetables make bread taste great. You don’t believe me? What about onion, tomato and basil on top of focaccia? Or pretty much anything on top of a pizza? You can grate raw carrot or beet root and add it to basic bread dough. You can add cooked and cubed or mashed potato, sweet potato, squash or pumpkin to basic bread dough. You can chop up fresh herbs or “leaves” (tops of celery, baby beets, spinach, kale) and add them to basic bread dough. Believe me, all of these things make the most fantastic bread and get vegetables into your diet in ways you did not imagine!
To learn how to make a basic loaf of whole wheat or spelt bread have a look at these great, simple to follow videos. For ideas regarding how to make bread that is a terrific addition to vegetarian and vegan diets, check out our recipe list here, looking particularly at Celery and Onion bread, Danish Rye (and you can leave out the sourdough bit with just a tiny loss of flavour), Muesli bread, Potato and Rosemary bread, or Sourdough Millet bread. Vegans, substitute butter and diary in your usual way.
To learn more about baking bread specifically for vegetarians and vegans why not take the special pop up bread course that we are running in September with The Kitchen Clinic. Click here for details and booking. And if you cannot make that, fear not, we will be running more vegetarian/vegan bread classes later in the autumn – just contact us to find out when! We look forward to meeting you and introducing you to the world of easy and delicious recipes for vegetarian and vegan bread. For more great vegetarian and vegan bread and bun recipes check out All You Knead Is Bread (includes some great gluten free recipes too) and The Book of Buns.