Posted by: A Part of the Solution | October 26, 2010

Vegan Pantry, Part 1: Fats and Oils

If you’re doing the vegan, full or part time, it’s important to have kitchen staples at hand to support that choice. As people have evolved through omnivorous engagement with the consumable environment, working the vegan standpoint whilst showing respect for one’s own bodily health takes planning and commitment both. Further, having a complete roster of basics on hand allows one to ENJOY the foods one does choose to eat, as well as the ethical/healthful position one has adopted.


Fat carries flavor. Fat carries key vitamins. Fat allows one to maintain nerve sheathes and muscle building capacity. You need fat. You need healthy fat. You need a wardrobe of fats, so that you have the right profile of lipids coursing through your systems.

EVOO: This is good for making dips and cold sauces and salad dressings–and for drizzling on foods finished cooking. To heat this is to waste money, and quickly create the kinds of polymers which aren’t anything but plastic when they enter your body.

Unrefined Corn Oil: I get mine from Spectrum Oil. This stuff is amazing. A little bit added to anything you’re cooking creates a fantastic buttery/roasted corn flavor in the finished product. Keep this refrigerated after opening so that it will stay fresh for as long as you need it–since a little goes a long way.

Unrefined Peanut Oil: As above, Spectrum is my provider. This oil is good for sautéing and stirring-fry. It adds depth to your finished cooking ventures.

Sesame Oil: Really, I like to have a hot sesame and a regular sesame on hand. They’re both great for marinades and as part of the oil blends I like to use in my sautéing. Dark sesame oils are great for flavoring, but need to be used with the same light hand as is appropriate to extracts.

Almond Oil: This one is super for baking with. It adds a delicate character to your sweets, and intensifies the ‘almondy’ nature of products made using almond milk and extract.

Coconut Oil: With sesame oil this is my favorite for preparing Asian, Caribbean and African dishes. It’s also delicious in many chocolate-flavored baked goods. Unrefined, the stuff makes a good alternative shortening in baking ventures.

Walnut/Hazelnut Oil: Not only are these huge in their polyunsaturated oil profiles, but the first is a great source of omega-3s and the second is higher in oleic acids than olive oil. Brilliant as drizzles, fascinating in salad dressings, and essential to sophisticated baking.

Margarine: Stay away from this stuff. It’s hydrogenated and easily as unhealthful as any animal based fat you can name. New alternatives, like Earth Balance sticks, are great for baking–and the tub spreads are impressive for spreading on toast and other ready-to-eat applications.

Most of these products will last longer and maintain their healthful character longer if they’re stored in the fridge after opening. Buy the more exotic (and expensive) varieties in smaller sizes at first as you become familiar with ways of using them and their flavors in your cooking.



  1. Excellent info! I’ve been curious about using unrefined coconut oil. How coconutty does it taste when cooked or baked?

    • Depends on what else you use around it. For people who HATE coconut, it’s detectable if they’re looking for it. For everyone else, and the wholly unsuspecting, it’s a rich nutty note in the finished product. IE, it’s detectable in Thai food–because it’s expected. Not so much in brownies (give it a try, and add those optional bittersweet mini-chocolate chips, no one will know–especially if you add a couple, only two mind, tablespoons of the unrefined corn oil. It’s a dominant flavor and really tastes like butter when cooked).

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