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What is nutritional yeast and why are vegans obsessed with it?

Welcome to vegcurious – the blog for people who are curious about plant-based eating.

If you’ve spoken with a plant-based eater for any length of time, like two’ve probably heard them utter something strange that sounds like they’re saying…nooch. Nooch is code for the nutritional powerhouse of B vitamins and yumminess commonly known as, nutritional yeast.

You might also have heard nutritional yeast referred to as flakes of gold, golddust, vegan Parm…or any number of more enticing-sounding names than “nutritional yeast”. Vegans can be very creative when it comes to avoiding saying that cringe-worthy moniker, “nutritional yeast”. And don’t even get me started on seiten! (That’s for another post…)

So…what is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is an inactivated form of the brewer's yeast that is used to make bread or beer. It is available as a powder, in granules, or as flakes and its savoury taste has been described as cheesy or nutty. The taste is actually quite mild and often nutritional yeast will be mixed into other foods with no noticeable change in taste. But it’s not the taste of nooch that has launched it into the orbit of legendary star status amongst plant-based eaters.

"Nutritional Yeast is a powerhouse of B vitamins and it doesn't stop there!"

Oh, Nooch…could you B any more fabulous?

It’s relatively easy to get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need from a plant-based diet, but there are some exceptions and one of them is B-12. Often, people thinking about moving towards a plant-based diet will ask where vegans get their daily requirement of B vitamins, and specifically, where do they get their B12. Getting enough vitamin B12 is essential for many reasons. Luckily, in just two small teaspoons of nutritional yeast, on average*, you’ll get…you may want to sit down for this…313% of your daily value (DV) of B12. But nooch doesn’t stop there.

B all you can be

Nutritional yeast is a literal powerhouse of B vitamins. There’s no way to sugar-coat this…ounce-for-ounce, you would be hard pressed to find a better source of many of the B vitamins than in these little flakes of gold. Take B2 (riboflavin), for example. Those same two teaspoons provide a whopping 246% of your DV of B2. Moving down the line to B3 (niacin) and those two teaspoons weigh in at 109%. Need more convincing? Stay with me as we get to B6 and a full 212% of your DV. Even B9 (folate) shows up at a respectable 59%.

But wait…there’s more!

Did I mention that nutritional yeast is also a source of protein, is low in sodium, low in calories, and is fat, sugar and gluten free?

OK…sure…but what does nutritional yeast taste like?

None of this would matter a fig if nutritional yeast wasn’t also incredibly delicious! Some people describe nutritional yeast as being cheesy and use it where they would use Parmesan cheese or any grated/sprinkled cheese. Others find it has a nutty flavour and they use it in smoothies or baked goods. Still others assign nooch the vague flavour profile of umami and sprinkle it on darn near everything! (That last one might be me...)

"Use nutritional yeast wherever you would use grated cheese!"

Where can you use nutritional yeast?

The question should be...where CAN'T you use it! Simply put, you can never go wrong sprinkling nooch over pretty much everything! Here are some of the most popular ways nutritional yeast is used:

In summary…

Name…bad. Taste…GREAT!

*Actual nutritional values may change by brand.

Want to read more about nutritional yeast and B vitamins?

Some great recipes using nutritional yeast:


I hope this blog has helped you find your way to plant-based eating. Remember…the goal is not to be perfect. Do the best you can and enjoy the journey!

Next post: Why you don't need eggs in your diet

Note: It is strongly recommended that you consult with your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet. This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to recommend or endorse any particular product, diet or eating plan.


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