Vegan baking follows the increasingly popular vegan diet which several people follow based on personal choice or health conditions. It is a growing category in baking which requires a significant level of experimentation and a special focus on flavors.
Vegetarians, and especially vegans, must be careful when limiting their diets to certain plant-based products like legumes and grains, a result of this alternative diet limited nutritional value, mainly insufficient amounts of essential amino acids.
Differences between vegetarians and vegans
Typically, vegetarians are individuals who choose to eliminate meat from their diet. There are four subcategories of vegetarianism:
- Semi-vegetarians can consume milk, eggs, and occasionally poultry, ham, and fish but no beef
- Lacto‐ovo vegetarians allow milk and eggs but exclude fish and all meats
- Lacto-vegetarians allow milk only, exclude eggs, fish, and all meats
- Vegans on the other hand, allow nourishment only from plant sources.
One of the main challenges with veganism is the potential for not getting sufficient amounts of good proteins which provide essential amino acids. These nutrients are found in significant amounts in animal proteins but not in cereals, grains and vegetables. For this reason, vegans must consume mixed vegetable products and among them should be sources of essential amino acids from legumes (peanuts, beans), grains, and seeds. Vitamin‐fortified soy milks and vitamin supplements help assist the body in obtaining nutrients generated by eating a normal balanced diet.
Consumers often confuse the concepts of clean label, organic, vegan, natural, keto and gluten-free bakery products and often consider all these products as equivalent in terms of nutrition. However, neither of these alternatives can substitute for the rest and therefore don’t meet the needs of various individuals. Ultimately, it all depends on what consumers are looking for proper nourishment based on medical conditions, dietary needs, or simply their personal preferences.
Vegan bread, buns, and yeasted doughs are not very different from the traditional breads found today. As long as the prohibited ingredients are not added, any regular bread can be considered as vegan. The formulations and regular processing technology can be applied to both traditional and vegan bread doughs.
Sweet baked goods
Vegan chemically-leavened products with the same volume and texture characteristics are far more difficult to make. In such products, the absence of eggs heavily diminishes the gas retention, structure setting and texture of cakes, muffins and other sweet baked goods. Having no eggs means not enough flavor and color, no albumin for structure and air incorporation, no lecithin for foam and emulsion stabilization, and adding more water does not mean that the moistening functionality of eggs is 100% replaced. Careful selection of egg replacement is therefore needed to obtain high-quality vegan cakes.