There’s no rule that says you have to be a meat eater to be an animal in bed. Ask any vegan, and they’ll tell you: Not only are vegan foods delicious, but they might even turn you on.
Considering that there are vegan swaps for most any animal product out there, it would only make sense that there are vegan alternatives to some of the sexiest aphrodisiacs too. Forget oysters or fancy French cheese — there are plenty of Mother Nature-approved foods that can get your blood pumping and get you in the mood.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here are ten of our favorite vegan aphrodisiacs:
For being so tiny, sesame seeds are pumped with the amino acid L-arginine, which can deliciously enhance circulation — and anything that improves blood flow through the body is a libido booster. Crust tofu with sesame seeds, sprinkle them over salads, or make a sweet tahini sauce to drizzle over a luscious scoop of vegan ice cream.
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A natural stimulant, ginger has long been considered an aphrodisiac. Mince ginger into a veggie stir-fry, steep ginger into a tea, or make a sexy cocktail using ginger vodka.
Without even trying, dark chocolate is a sensual vegan treat that releases a mood-lifting surge of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals. For the ultimate aphrodisiac experience, feed dark chocolate-dipped strawberries to each other, or make a dark chocolate sauce to moisten slices of vegan chocolate cake.
Chilies contain the heat-producing oil capsaicin, which naturally stimulates circulation and endorphins. Think about it: When you eat hot peppers, you immediately feel a surge of adrenaline and even sweat while your heart rate and breathing rate increase. These lovely physical responses to chilies are similar to those you experience when you’re in love.
The key to garlic being a mood food is to make sure you and your mate eat it together. Steep garlic in oil, and use the oil to sauté vegetables, toss with pasta or to make a vinaigrette for a salad.
This nut is one of the earliest-cultivated foods and has been regarded as a symbol of fertility throughout history. In fact, the tradition of having almonds at a wedding began during Roman times—guests would throw the nuts at newlyweds. It is also thought that the smell of almonds incites passion in women.
Touted as an aphrodisiac as early as the 17th century, asparagus boosts potassium and folic acid, the latter of which is said to boost histamine production—a necessary component in reaching orgasm for both sexes. Bridegrooms in 19th century France were served three courses of asparagus at their prenuptial dinner.
Avocados boast the famous feminine shape and are high in omega-3 fatty acids and potassium, as well as vitamin B6, which is known to increase male hormone production. They are so effective, in fact, that Spanish priests used to forbid their parishioners from eating them.
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This member of the mint family helps promote circulation and is believed to stimulate sex drive. In Moldavian folklore, a man is destined to fall in love with a woman if he accepts a sprig of basil from her.
Believed to have been in the Garden of Eden, figs were also Cleopatra’s favorite fruit and the ancient Greeks associated them with love and fertility. Figs are a great source of flavonoids and antioxidants, and it has been found that figs can increase sexual stamina.
So here you go, introduce these foods to ignite some spark this Valentine’s day or any day that your love life needs a little push!