Nutrional Yeast - basic facts

  • Posted Sept. 7, 2008 by Tamara Harden Viewed 2694 times
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If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you definately know what nutrional yeast is. If you are not, you've probably never heard of the stuff before. But as a vegan, this is a very important part of our diet, since we don't eat animal products.

I have read enough comments on vegan recipe sites, to know that the average person is somewhat confused. There are many vegan and vegetarian recipes that use nutrional yeast, and I've read enough comments on vegan recipes websites, to know that the average person is somewhat confused. And who wouldn't be? I had never heard of it before, and many people think when they see it in a recipe that it's brewers yeast, or bread yeast. NO - not even close. Let me clear up some misconceptions on the wonderful thing we veggies call nutrional yeast.

Nutrional yeast is a deliciously convenient vegan source of vitamin B12. A natural bacterial fermentations process not involving any animal products produces the B12, used in this nutrional yeast. It also contains amino acids, important minerals, and folic acid.

Vitamin B12 is prevalent in nature in the soil, which is how we once got all we needed naturally: by eating foods fresh from the soil with a little bit of dirt still on them and then perhaps licking your fingers clean. And before toothbrushes, dentists, and modern personal hygiene became a part of our daily lives, the B12 bacteria would get stuck between our teeth and grow, as our mouths were warm and welcoming hosts.

Vitamin B12 is present in many meat products, but how did the animals get it in the first place? Most of the animals that end up on American dinner plates consume a mostly plant-based diet themselves. When they graze on grasses or ingest traces of soil, manure, or other contaminants, the beneficial B12 bacteria gets in their systems. The animals' livers then process the bacteria to absorb the vitamin B12.

Much of the traces of B12 found in meat products were produced within the gastrointestinal tracts of the animals and not exactly within the cut of filet mignon itself. Without going into all the gory details, the slaughtering process is what really helps disperse the B12 onto the meat. Fortunately for vegans, there are many better ways to get vitamin B12!!

The typical diet gets most of their B12 from animal, but plant-based foods are far better sources of B12, as they contain zero cholesterol and are lower in fat than animal-based sources. Because vitamin B12 is from bacteria in the soil (animals eat grass, grown in the soil, that's how we derive it from that source)
you can easily get a reliable source from your own freshly and organically grown foods. Simply give your foods a gentle rinsing in water, if needed, and you'll reap the benefits of clinging B12. Eating foods in their raw state also preserves more of the naturally occuring B12.

But you don't need to rely on dirt particles alone for your B12. It's fortified into so many vegan-friendly foods, including orange juice, grains, breads, nutrional yeast, cereals, sea vegetables, and many other soy-based products.

Stock up on these food sources of B12:

* Fortified fruit juices
* Fortified soy milk and soy-based products
* Fermented soy-based products such as tempeh, miso, shoyu, and tamari
* Enriched grains, cereals, and starch-based products
* Nutritional yeast (1 TBSP supplies 4 mcg - more than you need)

A yellow, non-leavening yeast used as a food supplement. It has a distinct, pleasant aroma and delicious cheesy taste. I buy it in the bulk section of the grocery store. It resembles instant potatoes.

Nutrional yeast is used in vegan recipes for that cheesy taste. I use it on vegetables, baked potatoes, popcorn (YUM!!) and all of my cheesy sauces. Seriously, the taste is so good. I can't explain it, really, I can stick my finger in it and eat it that way.

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    3 There are 3 comments, add yours!

    • #
      2008.09.12 Edited

      Nom nom nom. Nooch is SO good. My girls call it "cheese" and want it on everything from broccoli, baked potatoes, and of course pop corn. hehe

    • #
      2008.09.08 Edited

      Thank you! I was going to ask on your last post, "What is nutrional yeast?" And you read my mind :o)