Vegan Essentials

Food & Wine: Agave Syrup.
Courtesy of Organic Nectars

Alain Coumont, founder of Le Pain Quotidien, loves showcasing vegetables in his cooking. Here are his vegan pantry essentials.

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Agave Syrup

“I like agave syrup because it’s a raw sweetener—it’s squeezed from the agave plant [the same succulent used to make tequila]. It has a fairly neutral taste, so it’s great for baking.”


Cashew Butter

“It has the fat content of cream or butter, as well as the fiber and protein content of nuts. It can give baked goods and mousses great texture.”


Cold-Pressed Oils

“To make refined vegetable oils, factories grind the ingredients, mix them with water and pull out the oil with a solvent. The flavor goes into the air. Cold-pressed oils don’t go through this process, so they have more nutrients, and they still taste of something.”

Dairy-Free Milks

“Soy milk is an easy substitute for dairy. Almond and rice milks are also delicious.”


Whole-Grain Flours

“The difference between whole-grain wheat flour and refined all-purpose flour is like the difference between cornmeal and cornstarch. Cornmeal tastes like corn; cornstarch doesn’t taste of anything.”



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