By Louise Palmer-Masterton, Founder, Stem + Glory

Vegan on Female First

Vegan on Female First

Think about your favourite foods? Whilst some of them might have meat and dairy in them, I’ll bet it’s not the meat and dairy that makes you like them.

Nature has given us a fifth taste - umami – which, in a nutshell, is ‘deliciousness’ and often it is the umami in food that gives us that yearning and makes a particular food ‘mouth-watering’. Whilst some non-vegan foods such as cured meat, parmesan and anchovy are high umami, there is a long list of vegan umami foods too, and success with vegan cooking depends on being able to cook up deliciousness so you won’t feel you are missing anything.

Monosodium glutamate is basically chemically reproduced ‘umami’ - Pringles have lots of monosodium glutamate which explains how something so nutritionally diabolical can be so irresistible!

Italian food is generally rich in umami and you make think pizza has got have cheese but give it a try without and you’ll be surprised. The tomato paste is the umami in pizza, not the cheese. So, a generous slathering of tomato paste, add herbs, olives (also umami) and olive oil. Sun dried tomatoes are especially high in umami and a great addition to any European style cuisine.

Japanese food, too, is rich in umami. Again, maybe you think sushi is all about the fish? Think again. Seaweed and soy sauce are high umami foods. Cucumber maki rolls and seaweed salad are two of Yo Sushi’s biggest sellers and both are vegan. Try making your own simple vegan nori rolls. Use rice with avocado, cucumber and sesame for a simple nori dipped in soy sauce. For something fancier, you can roll anything into a nori sheet - noodles, raw vegetable strips, soya chunks, roasted sweet potato (high umami). You can substitute rice with edamame paste. The list is endless. Basically, anything dipped in soy sauce will be yummy!

Think your burger is all about the meat? Think again. Classic burger components include lettuce, mayo, pickles (high umami), ketchup (high umami). Add all of these to a meat free burger and you’ll be coming close to the same experience. It’s not necessarily the meat that makes the burger.

Another way to remove meat but umami up your everyday food is with toasted nuts or seeds. When you toast nuts and seeds their umami gets stronger. Many spices are also high umami. Cumin - vegetable curry anyone? Smoked paprika - vegetable paella?

I’ll rise to the challenge of vegansing anything and everything. Next time you are cooking your favourite food, google a vegan version and I’ll bet you’ll find a good one. Remember to liberally add high umami vegan flavours and you’ll be on track to be fully satisfied by plant-based foods.


Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurant Stem + Glory; a hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurant, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredient 100% made on site. Stem + Glory offers all day casual fine dining, fast breakfast, brunch and lunch, juices, smoothies and great coffee. All available to eat in or take away. Stem + Glory also offers mouth-watering and hugely popular tasting menu evenings and special event menus. The restaurants have an extensive vegan bar, offering the best craft beers and fine wines, alongside cocktails, mocktails and smart drinks.

tagged in