Answer: Yes. Tahini doesn’t include any animal-sourced ingredients and is considered vegan-friendly.
Vegan hummus and Tahini, anyone?
Tahini is a staple condiment of Middle Eastern cuisine, usually served as a dip or an ingredient in making popular Mediterranean dishes like hummus, halva, and baba ghanoush, among others.
Tahini is made from crushed sesame seeds soaked in salt water and then toasted and ground into a paste. This produces an oily paste and is prepared with lemon juice, garlic, salt, and water. None of its ingredients are animal-sourced but are mostly plant-based and naturally produced.
For the love of Tahini or simply Sesame Paste, let’s check more about it in this article.
What Is Tahini?
The word Tahini is derived from a colloquial Arabic term Taḥīna or Taḥīniyya, meaning “to grind.” It only appeared in English in the late 1930s.
Sesame was the main source of oil in some regions of Mesopotamia about 3,500 years ago when people used it to serve the gods Sesame Wine.
In a 13th-century Arabic cookbook titled Kitab Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada, Tahini was part of the ingredients in making hummus kasa.
Several Indian, Japanese, and Chinese dishes also use Tahini as a dip for hot pots, dry noodles, and other cold dishes.
In the 1940s, Tahini became available in North American health food stores.
Armenia, Greece, Cyprus, Persia, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Gaza, and Levant regions are known for using Tahini as a major ingredient of their local dishes.
Sweet Tahini is a popular ingredient in making Halva and Ice Cream in the Middle East.
Today, Tahini, or Sesame Paste, is one of the popular ingredients in many dishes not just in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world.
Tahini Is Vegan-Friendly
Tahini is simply ground hulled sesame seeds that are usually toasted. Some prepare Tahini untoasted, labeled, and sold as Raw Tahini or Organic Tahini.
As a star ingredient in many Middle Eastern dishes like hummus, Tahini has gained popularity worldwide for its earthy, creamy, nutty, savory, and a little bitter taste.
Its texture is similar to peanut butter, although they don’t taste the same. Unlike any other nut butter, Tahini gives a distinct flavor, which makes it a perfect dip or ingredient in making the famous Middle Eastern dishes.
And what’s more exciting about it is that it’s vegan-friendly, which allows vegans to eat it without guilt.
Is Tahini Healthy?
Sesame is a great source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, and protein, among others. And eating Tahini provides you the same health benefits to fight chronic diseases.
Tahini contains antioxidants from sesame called lignans and phytosterols, which help fight against free radicals that cause damage to your body.
This helps reduce the risk of many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Because of its powerful antioxidants, Tahini provides antibacterial properties, which help heal open wounds, especially for those with diabetes.
Tahini also has several compounds that are highly anti-inflammatory and helps mitigate lung disease, injury, rheumatoid arthritis as well as asthma.
Additionally, the sesame seeds’ antioxidants may also help improve brain health, which reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
In several studies, these components show that they fight free radicals that damage the nerve cells and the human brain.
All these health benefits from Tahini or sesame seeds are helpful to the human body in reducing the risk of any chronic diseases.
Although further research may be needed, several studies have shown that the powerful antioxidants are healthy for anyone who eats Tahini or Sesame Paste, and even Sesame Oil.
Tahini Nutritional Value
Tahini offers a lot of vitamins and minerals that are useful to the human body. If you’re following a healthy, vegan diet, it’s worth checking out Tahini’s nutritional value.
Here’s what you can get from every 100 g of Tahini, not raw, as per the USDA.
- Calories. 595
- Total Fat. 54 g
- Cholesterol. 0 mg
- Sodium. 115 mg
- Potassium. 414 mg
- Total Carbs. 21 g
- Protein. 17 g
If you notice, the calories that Tahini gives for every 100 g of serving is 595. It’s not much if you base it on serving because it would be around a half or at least one cup.
You just have to limit the amount of your intake, which is easy since you can use Tahini as a dip or only an ingredient in a dish.
However, you also have to keep watch of your calories, especially since the Dietary Guidelines‘ recommended calorie intake per day is at least 2,400 for healthy adults.
Possible Downsides of Tahini
While many health experts believe that Tahini is healthy for everyone, excessive consumption also leads to possible chronic inflammation.
Tahini is packed with omega-6 fatty acids but is relatively low in omega-3. And if you consume it excessively, this may lead to joint tissue damage such as rheumatoid arthritis.
For a balanced diet, you should pair Tahini with other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as kidney beans, walnuts, chia seeds, and more.
Also, if you have a known allergic reaction to sesame seeds, you should avoid eating Tahini because it may cause severe anaphylaxis, which hinders your proper breathing.
Vegan Dishes With Tahini
Salad dressing, dip, marinade, or a major ingredient in many dishes are just among the uses of Tahini. For vegans, it’s one of the most popular condiments to use in many plant-based and vegan-friendly dishes.
If you’re into cooking, Tahini is best with homemade dishes, especially since there are a lot of uses that you can do for this famous condiment.
You can even make your own Tahini sauce to pair with the paste itself for a more flavorful dish at home. Check out these vegan-friendly dishes that are specially made with Tahini.
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- Cranberry Walnut Vegan Chicken Salad
- Lemon Rosemary White Bean Soup
- Apple Coleslaw
- Vegan Zucchini Pesto
- Zucchini Wraps with Kale
- Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup
- Chickpea & Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
- Chickpea, Potato, & Parsley Bowl
- Curried Potato Salad
- Sonoma Chickpea Chicken Salad
- Crispy Smashed Potatoes
- Vegan Sushi Bowl
- Black Bean Burrito
- Raw Sprouted Hummus
There are still a lot of vegan dishes that work best with Tahini, And they’re easy to work on, especially when you’re into cooking. After all, homemade is still the best for every vegan out there!
Top 5 Vegan Tahini Brands
Good news. Many store-bought Tahini brands are vegan-friendly, organic, and even gluten-free for most!
- Baron’s Organic Tahini
- Whole Foods 365
- Trader Joe’s Organic Tahini
- Pepperwood Organic Stone-Ground Tahini
- Al Arz 100% Sesame Tahini
Make Your Own Tahini At Home
Making Tahini is easy, and all of its ingredients are readily available at your local grocers or supermarkets. I’ve tried making this at home a few times, and because it’s easy and quick for a lazy dude like me (sometimes), I love doing it when I have ample time.
Let’s get to work!
- 2 cups hulled white Sesame Seeds
- 2-4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
What you need:
- Food Processor or Blender
What to do:
- In a skillet, put the sesame seeds and cook in the oven over medium heat for 5 minutes and stir until they’re colored. Toasted sesame seeds don’t have to go through this step.
- Let it cool down for about 5 minutes and transfer it to a food processor or a blender. Start making a paste.
- You can add some oil or salt if need be. Adjust it according to your preference.
- Store the Tahini in a sealed container and put it in the fridge for a month. Over time, the paste separates from the oil, but you only have to stir it, which should be fine.
- Use it for your favorite vegan dishes as a dip, condiment, dressing, or ingredient.
Best Tahini Substitutes
If you find it difficult to have Tahini or get one from your local grocer, there are a few substitutes that you can consider. Although they don’t taste the same as Tahini, they work great in your dishes that also ask for Tahini.
Some of these are store-bought, but you can always make one at home. The first two substitutes almost have the same consistency with a neutral flavor.
- Cashew Butter
- Almond Butter
- Sunflower Butter
- Peanut Butter with Olive Oil
Peanut Butter may taste sweeter, but try to find one that’s natural and add some Olive Oil and a pinch of salt. Adjust the taste so it won’t be too sweet for your dish.
The Bottom Line
Tahini is as delicious as any other plant-based butter and offers amazing health benefits.
It’s popular among connoisseurs who are fond of Middle Eastern dishes, especially hummus, which works best with Tahini. If you’re wondering if hummus is vegan, yes, it’s suitable for vegans.
Here’s a separate article about it if you check it out.
Nonetheless, you can either buy Tahini from your local grocer or make one at home. It’s more fun and exciting!