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Nutritional yeast is one of those foods that you can probably find in any young, vegan household. I don’t really know why it has become so ubiquitous–it probably has something to do with the fact that some (but not all) varieties have substantial quantities of vitamin B12, the only vital nutrient almost completely missing from a vegan diet. Now that soymilk, fake meats, and other products are regularly fortified with B12, this is not a compelling reason to eat NuYeast.
So why eat it? Well–because it tastes good. It actually does have interesting nutritional properties–lots of protein and fiber–but these are things not usually missing from a vegan diet.
There are two places it shines–as a topping on popcorn and in vegan mac and cheese. (Sometimes I like it sprinkled on some pasta, and in my early vegan days I doused all kinds of things with it to enliven boring dishes my housemates made).
The recipe I use for “cheese” is somewhat adapted from the one in The Farm cookbook. I start by making a roux with a few tablespoons of flour and a few tablespoons of earth balance. After it gets nice and golden brown, I add a few cups of water and cook until it thickens. I then add tons of salt, some fresh garlic or garlic powder, a tiny pinch of turmeric (for color), a heaping cup of NuYeast, and about half a stick of earth balance (you can make it as rich as you want using less or more). Oh, and sometimes a dash of soy sauce.
You can also adapt this recipe (make it a little thicker and adjust the seasoning) to make a pretty good imitation of the sort of nacho cheese dip you would get at the fair or a baseball game.
If you like vegan mac and cheese and popcorn, eat NuYeast! Otherwise, don’t try and eat it if you don’t like it. There’s no reason that vegans need it nutritionally.