If you hate the taste of vegetables, it can be a huge barrier to going vegan. Because, what would you actually eat if vegetables are off the menu? Yes, you can survive on Oreos and chips, but it’s certainly not recommended.
Believe it or not, there are some people who go vegan and then grow to love vegetables. But even if you never get to the stage where you’re salivating at the sight of corn on the cob, there are ways that you can go vegan whilst keeping your plate free of green things.
First, let’s figure out why you don’t like veggies in the first place…
Could you be a ‘supertaster’?
One in four people are supertasters. These are people who taste certain flavours much more strongly than everyone else.
Does broccoli, spinach and grapefruit taste incredibly bitter to you? You could well be a supertaster.
Do you love coffee, gin and tonics and dark chocolate? You’re probably NOT a supertaster.
Your sense of taste is genetic. Scientists believe that supertasters are simply born with more taste buds on their tongue.
Being a supertaster has its pros and cons. On the upside, you may weigh less than average as you unconsciously avoid rich, fatty and sugary foods. You may also be less likely to drink and smoke if you find the taste to be too harsh.
However, supertasters tend to avoid the healthiest vegetables including Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower. This can lead to all kinds of health problems from vitamin deficiencies to bowel issues caused by a lack of fibre.
5 ways to make vegetables taste better
If you hate the taste of veggies, there are some things that you can try to disguise the taste or to cancel it out with another flavour…
1. Add salt
Salt can be quite successful in counteracting bitter tastes. So adding salt to a salad will cover the bitterness of the leafy greens. You could even add salt to grapefruit to cancel out the bitterness and let the sweet taste come through.
However, too much salt can have its own health risks, with links to high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease.
2. Add spices
Strong spices will certainly mask the taste of vegetables. In a chickpea curry, for example, you can’t taste the chickpeas at all with the flavours of chilli, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala and coriander all fighting for your attention.
Unfortunately, if you have sensitive tastebuds, you may also find many spices to be unpleasant. It’s worth experimenting with different flavours to find the ones that you like.
3. Add sauce
Some vegetarians find that they can tolerate any vegetables when they’re covered in a cheese sauce, making cauliflower cheese or a veggie lasagne enjoyable even to veg-avoiders.
This is because cheese contains a protein called casein which, when broken down, attaches to our dopamine receptors, triggering the same pathway in the brain as hard drugs.
For vegans, it’s not that simple. Vegan cheese doesn’t have the same effect. Although you may wish to try adding other sauces such as vegan mayo, ketchup or a vegan salad dressing.
4. Hide them
Whizzing up vegetables and adding them to a tomato-based sauce is an age-old trick of parents of picky eaters. The idea is that kids will eat vegetables without knowing.
For kids, vegetable avoidance is usually psychological. Oftentimes, they do actually like vegetables, they just don’t think that they do so they make the decision before the food is even on their fork.
Blending vegetables can actually release the flavours more. Plus, when you’re the one with the blender, it can be much harder to trick yourself!
Luckily, some ready-made foods have hidden veg inside, particularly those aimed at kids. Heinz veg hoops, for example, are vegan spaghetti hoops with pasta made from carrot and cauliflower and a vegetable sauce.
5. Cook them right
If your parents always boiled vegetables until they were floppy and served them with no seasonings, you may not realise that that’s not the best way to do it.
Try cooking your broccoli until it’s just tender before sauteing it in olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon juice. If you still can’t stomach it, your tastebuds may just be too sensitive.
Go for quality over quantity with superfoods
If you’ve tried all the tricks and hacks to make vegetables taste nice and you’re still struggling, then it’s time to think about which vegetables will give your body the biggest return on investment… Which foods are so packed with nutrients that you only need to eat tiny amounts of them to feel the benefit?
Eating a whole cabbage might seem like an impossible task, and for most people, it would be. But half a teaspoon of chia seeds? You could sprinkle those on virtually anything without even noticing. They’re tasteless, yet packed full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Superfoods are foods that are exceptionally high in nutrients.
The top superfoods for vegans
Some of the most nutrient-rich foods to add to a vegan diet are:
- Leafy greens
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Green tea
How to incorporate superfoods into your diet
Many superfoods are not vegetables. So, picky eaters and supertasters may find things like nuts and seeds to be much more palatable than leafy greens.
Even if superfoods aren’t your favourite, the great thing is that you don’t need to eat a large volume to get all the health benefits.
A simple trick to get superfoods in your diet is to use specially-formulated superfood powders. You only need a single teaspoon to get a decent dose of nutrients that will make you feel more energised throughout the day.
You can add superfood powders to smoothies, cereal, vegan yoghurts, fruit juice, water or anything else that you fancy. You could even add them to your baking if that’s what works for you.
Things you must eat if you don’t get enough veg
Whilst superfoods can certainly help to minimise the negative effects of a diet that’s lacking in vegetables, there are some more things that you should think about adding.
1. A vitamin supplement
A good vitamin supplement is recommended to make sure that we get enough of the nutrients that are hard to get from food, like vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.
Suggested read: The best vegan multivitamins
Fibre (also known as roughage) is vital to aid our digestion and prevent constipation. It also helps us to feel fuller, which can prevent us from overeating.
High fibre foods include healthy breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta, brown rice, beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds and fruit.
Suggested read: The complete guide to vegan cereal
Vegetables are often very high in water, with foods like cucumber, spinach and broccoli being over 90% water. Water has many benefits for our body, including helping digestion, carrying nutrients to our cells and preventing constipation. It can also help us to feel full which can prevent overeating
If you aren’t eating many vegetables, then you need to pay extra attention to your water intake to make sure that you’re getting enough. Aim to drink at least six to eight glasses per day.
It’s perfectly possible to be a healthy vegan even if you dislike eating vegetables. If you have a sensitive sense of taste and this puts you off eating anything green, you may be able to cover the taste with other flavours.
When choosing which vegetables to cook with, focus on the ones that you like, and superfoods that are the richest in vitamins and minerals. You may want to look into superfood powders as a way to sneak superfoods into your meals and snacks.
If your diet is lacking in vegetables, be sure to take a daily multivitamin and make sure that you get enough fibre and water from other sources.