A few months ago, I was in my kitchen, preparing veggie meat balls. One of my roommates examined the Textured Vegetable Protein suspiciously. “What does it taste like?” she wanted to know.
I shrugged. “I’m vegetarian. I try not to taste what I eat.”
When you’re a vegan, sometimes you might find yourself swallowing something you don’t particularly like, whether it’s tofu or meatless balls. Still, most flavors can be hidden by seasoning well, or cooking with other things. However, there’s one food whose flavor is so strong it cannot be masked: Marmite.
If you’re not British, you might not be familiar with Marmite. It is a yeast extract solidified into paste, with a pungent smell and powerful taste. It’s not for everyone, clearly. Here are three reasons to try it (and three reasons not to):
1. Get more vitamin B
Marmite is packed with Vitamin B, especially vitman B12, one nutrient that often eludes the vegan diet. There are some vegan foods that are enriched with vitamin B12, like soy yogurt, but the effects of a vitamin B12 deficiency include permanent nerve and hearing damage, so if you can stand the taste…
2. It’s cheap.
A small jar like the one pictured above only costs about $4, and once opened it doesn’t go bad, and doesn’t require refrigeration. Plus, it’s low in calories and high in protein and goes great on bread, so it makes the perfect meal for a vegan on a budget.
3. You might grow to like the sharp, salty taste.
Try spreading a little Marmite on bread in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – it’s an acquired taste, but the Marmite might make an otherwise boring snack into a new thing.
4. Be more British.
Why not to try it:
1. The taste.
Tonight, I tried feeding a Marmite, peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a member of the uninitiated. He said that it tasted like something that was trying really hard to be food but didn’t quite make it, and that it was a little like eating a spoonful of pure vinegar.
2. The salt.
Marmite is high in sodium, enough to get it banned from the breakfast menu of schools in Wales, according to the BBC.
3. Get vitamin B12 from a vitamin instead.
Just make sure to get a brand of vitamins that uses vegetarian cellulose capsules, not gelatin.