10 Spices That Will Enhance Your Vegan Meals In A Way No Meat Eater Can Resist

Here’s a funny story. I’ve learned to spice certain vegan meals in a way that I have had to literally stop in the middle of the meal and ask myself ‘Does this really NOT have meat in it?’

I’ve mostly learned to do that, because of my intense desire to convert my ex boyfriends, but since I didn’t succeed in that, at least I preserved my cooking skills.

The whole point of sharing this with you is to make the point that spices DO make a difference. Use them wisely and you can make a bland meal taste absolutely delicious!

Here are the

10 Spices That Will Enhance Your Vegan Meals In A Way No Meat Eater Can Resist

1. Paprika

Paprika is savory and speaks to those taste buds that love umami flavor. Paprika is native to South America but it is also grown in Europe, particularly in Spain and Hungary. Spanish paprika is mild while Hungarian paprika is much stronger. Paprika is ground from Capsicum or chile peppers and comes in varieties of sweet and smoked. Paprika is a lovely red color and has a warm and sweet aroma. Depending which type of paprika you buy, its flavor can be sweet and mild or strong and smoky. I use it whenever I want to add some savory spiciness to a dish without the heat of cayenne or chile powder.

Paprika is common in Hungarian dishes such as paprikash and goulash. Also great for sausages and for seasoning flour used for breading. Smoked paprika is ideal for recipes when you want to add a warm, smoky flavor.  In India, paprika is used in tandoori dishes, giving the food not only flavor but color.

2. Cayenne

Cayenne came from French Guiana in South America and is now grown all over the world. It is from the chili pepper family and is very spicy. Its spiciness comes from a substance called capsaicin, which is known to reduce pain and inflammation, help the heart, and to prevent ulcers.

Spices with capsaicin are also studied for their ability to boost immunity, prevent stomach ulcers, clear nasal passages, and help lose weight. Cayenne also has vitamin A from its beta-carotene, which is a great antioxidant.

Cayenne is a nice spice for cooking savory foods and you can use it to give some subtle heat to bean balls, pasta, whole grain meals, and beans. You can even use it to give some kick to vegan desserts with chocolate in them.


3. Chinese 5-Spice Powder

Technically, Chinese 5-Spice Powder is a blend but, unless you are making it yourself, it comes in one bottle. It is a staple in Chinese cooking and there are different varieties, but the most common blend includes star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and Szechwan peppers. The aroma is heavenly with the star anise dominating the scent as well as the taste.

Perfect for Chinese dishes! Great for brown rice, chickpea pancakes, black bean burgers, and you can also add 5-Spice Powder to condiments such as ketchup to give them an Asian twist.

4. Cumin

Cumin is another of the ancient spices that is now used in the Middle East, India, China, and the Mediterranean. The seed form holds its flavor longer than ground. Cumin is a good source of iron and manganese, which aid in energy and the immune system. Cumin also helps digestion and in protecting against carcinogens.

I find myself using cumin often as a spice for cooking vegan food. It has such an intense flavor and mixes perfectly into savory dishes like tofu scramble, bean balls, and curries.

5. Allspice

Allspice sounds like a blend, but it is really one spice that amazingly smells like it’s a combination of spices, particularly cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. Allspice is indigenous to the rainforests of South and Central America. It is also grown in Mexico, but it is said that the finest allspice comes from Jamaica, and those are the recipes where I use it most. Allspice comes from berries and it is used around the world for a multitude of purposes besides cooking (think men’s spicy aftershave). You can buy allspice whole or ground. It smells aromatic like the aforementioned combination of nutmeg, cloves, ginger and cinnamon. It is a warm spice that is sweet yet pungent and has a bit of peppery flavor.

Allspice is found in Jerk dishes, marinades, pickling and mulling spices. It is also commonly used in baking and can substitute for cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves.

6. Dill

Dill has been used for thousands of years in Russia, Africa, and the Mediterranean. It is a good source of iron, manganese, and calcium. Dill helps to protect against free radicals and carcinogens, to regulate bacterial growth, and to prevent bone loss.

Dill is amazing with nutritional yeast on popcorn, quick dill pickles, and it’s an amazing spice for cooking in faux tuna salad sandwiches.

7. Oregano

Oregano was used all the way back to Ancient Greece and Rome, and is now grown all over the world. It has tons of vitamin K, as well as iron, manganese, dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids. It works as an anti-bacterial agent, and has more antioxidant power than most other fruits and vegetables.

Oregano is another common spice for cooking Mediterranean food, and its aroma reminds most people of pizza. Add it to sauces, pasta, and bean balls, but it’s extremely versatile and can mix with many dishes.

8. Cloves 

Cloves are dense with nutrients, known for having an extremely high amount of manganese, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium. It also has mild anesthetic (numbing), anti-bacterial properties, and its volatile oils have anti-inflammatory properties. Cloves can be found dried whole or ground. Add to sweet dishes or as a contrast in stews and curries.

9. Sage 

According to the June 2003 issue of Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior, sage is an outstanding memory enhancer. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Sage has dietary fiber, vitamin A (carotenoid), calcium, and iron. Sage can be found fresh, dried, or ground and is a great addition to stuffings and warmer dishes.

10. Thyme 

Thyme is an excellent source of vitamin K. It also has good amounts of iron, manganese, calcium, and dietary fiber. It’s a wonderful antioxidant, and it’s also been shown to have anti-microbial properties. Thyme can be found fresh, dried, or ground. It’s a good addition to stews, bland soups, and as flavoring for green salads and vegetable dishes.