Ask PD: I Can't Eat Soy or Nutritional Yeast

February 5, 2015

Ask PD: I Can't Eat Soy or Nutritional Yeast

Every Thursday, Peaceful Dumpling will answer your questions about veganism, life, health, relationships, etiquette, fitness, yoga, and everything in between! Just submit your question to contact [at] peacefuldumpling [dot] com or using the contact form below. (If your question hasn’t been covered yet, we’ll get there! I promise).


Dear PD:
Only been on a vegan lifestyle since the first of the year. I love it and have so much energy. The recipes are great. However, I have medical conditions that prohibit me from eating soy anything and also nutritional yeast. Are there any substitutes for these in your recipes especially seitan and Parmesan cheese?


Dear Marilove,

Hooray on keeping your veg-olution for 2015! You’re in for an amazing year, and lifetime of years if you stick with it. I’m glad that you are finding the recipes on the site useful and inspiring.

I hope that your medical condition is one that you’re able to manage easily. And I can see the problem with maintaining veganism without soy especially, and nutritional yeast for those better-than-cheese alternatives. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make the same dishes without those ingredients. The amount of soy I consume is something I like to check every so often, too, and so I am frequently looking for alternatives to these staples in my vegan kitchen.

Seitan is in fact made from vital wheat gluten, rather than soy. So unless you also had gluten sensitivity or celiac, you would be able to eat it. If you’re still looking for a seitan substitute, my favorite all-natural alternative is mushrooms, especially portobello, shiitake, and king oyster. Shiitake I mention here is specifically the kind you find at Asian stores and they look fatter and meatier than the kind you may find at your normal natural stores.

Ask PD: I Can't Eat Soy or Nutritional Yeast

Look for fatter, meatier shiitake in Asian stores


Ask PD: I Can't Eat Soy or Nutritional Yeast

They make a great seitan substitute in stir-fries, especially if they are lightly breaded and pan-fried until crispy, then tossed in sauce



If you want to make a smoothie, dip, or dessert that calls for silken tofu, try a non-soy, non-dairy yogurt like almond or coconut yogurt, in a 1-to-1 ratio. Finally, have you tried hemp tofu? It’s completely soy-free and gives you tons of protein as well as that firm texture.

For the unbeatable taste of NY-cheese, think nuts. Because they’re naturally soft, cahews and sunflower seeds are particularly good for blending sauces and dips to a cheesy-like consistency. (They’re also great nut-butters, too.) You can interchange nuts in this basic recipe:

Basic Soy-free Vegan Cheese

2 cups of Sunflower Seeds (soaked)
1 cup of Pine Nuts
1 tablespoon Salt
Juice from 2 Lemons
1/3 cup raw Olive Oil
1 bunch of Green Onion, all except roots (diced)

In your food processor, process the sunflower seeds, pine nuts and the salt until mix becomes finest it will go. Add lemon juice and the olive oil. Process again until smooth, scraping the sides if needed. Mixture should begin to “roll” as it moves around processor. Add a little water if needed to keep the mixture moving and rolling. Process until smooth, yet very thick. Then add the green onion. Process briefly to mix in and slightly break down the onion.

Allow to stand 30 minutes, then enjoy!

*Note: If you taste it early the lemon taste should stand out. The lemon taste will die down after it sits a bit.

Please share any successful new recipes you try or discover!

Happy cooking,


More reader questions on Ask PD: Anti Inflammatory Foods and Vegan Vitamins

“Our Non Vegan Friends Are Avoiding Us!”


Photo: Miran Rijavec via Flickr; James via Flickr

More Stories

peaceful dumpling
Peaceful Dumpling is used for articles written by staff writers and freelance contributors who wish to remain unidentified.


always stay inspired!