Gifts from afar pt 1: Vegemite is God’s Food

Vegemite

As a consequence of spending a year Down Under (pre-university), I am obsessed with all things Australian, up to and including Neighbors, Home and Away, the SMH, Aussie Rules football, the Socceroos, Anzac bikkies, Aussie slang, surfing, and Summer Heights High.

But most of all, I am consumed by my love of Vegemite, the greatest…er… material ever. Vegemite is a traditional Australian condiment most frequently served on toast, and eternalized by Men At Work’s pandemic single “Land Down Under”. It’s a hard sell for the North American palate, which prefers sweetened spreads (peanut butter, jams, jellies, marmalade, honey). I usually describe the taste of Vegemite as savoury, malty, and soy-sauce-like.

More facts about Vegemite:

  • 10 calories per tsp (believe me, 1 tsp goes a long way for this mighty condiment)
  • one of the most concentrated sources of B vitamins in the WORLD (1 tsp has 25% RDI of Niacin and Riboflavin, 50% RDI of Thiamine and Folate)
  • totally vegan!
  • is basically concentrated brewer’s yeast extract, a product of beer manufacturing

I first tried Vegemite while employed at a Sydney, NSW cafe and was, in a word, disgusted. But I gave it a second shot, and a third, and soon enough I was hooked on the stuff. Unfortunately, due to its unpopularity in North America, Vegemite isn’t readily available. I’ve seen it once or twice at Loblaws for $6 a jar, but it’s a teeny-tiny jar and my student budget could rarely justify it. More often I’ve seen Marmite, Vegemite’s almost-equally delicious yeasty British cousin, but that’s also running for $5 or $6.

Just recently, my sister’s friend returned from New Zealand and brought me back a 400 gm (80-serving) jar of Vegemite and I was (and still am!) over the moon.

I've eaten it every day since as part of a low-cal breakfast or snack and have felt my energy levels soar at the B-vitamin influx.

So…. has anyone else tried Vegemite? Like it/love it/hate it?

-Maureen

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27 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Shelby said,

    I have not tried it but I would love to! Vegemite is one of those foods I’ve been curious about, a little apprehensive about trying, but I would love to get my hand on some!

  2. 2

    Kath said,

    You got it :)

  3. 3

    Ummmmm… LOL I think that stuff is vile. When I lived in China, all my Aussie friends (and British friends, with Marmite) tried to get me to like it, but to no avail. I KNOW it’s good for ya, but I just can’t bring myself to like it. Oh well…

  4. 4

    Cheryl said,

    I tried it a couple times, at a friend’s house in London. I’d never tried it before, and assumed it was like jam. They didn’t try to stop me as I slathered a thick layer on, and took a bite. Needless to say, it was not what I expected. LOL I tried it again later, a very thin layer this time, and it was good! I haven’t had it since then (that was 12 years ago), but if I came across some, I’d have it again!

  5. 5

    renae said,

    My Australian friend forced me to try Vegemite once and I hated it. But since your first time didn’t go so well either, maybe I’ll try it a second time when I’m visiting him in Sydney in February!

  6. 6

    VeggieGirl said,

    I LOATHE VEGEMITE!!!! Sorry, but I do, haha ;-)

  7. 7

    Christie said,

    I am not going to lie i heard not good things about vegemite hahah

    OK your last post with all that stuff looks insanely good.. but the link to the pumpkin bread is not
    working =(

  8. 8

    what an interesting review! I had no idea what vegemite was.

  9. 9

    Amie said,

    I love Vegemite! Although being an Australian and eating it since I could eat solids may be a contributing factor. I think I have Vegemite to thank for my good health in my first few months of vegetarianism back in high school. For anyone put off by a bad first Vegemite experience, but willing to give it another try, you may like it better on toast with (vegan) cheese.

  10. 10

    Maureen said,

    Thanks, Christie– the link is fixed!

  11. 11

    Erin said,

    Don’t judge, but ever since I saw the movie “Our Lips Are Sealed” (which takes place in Australia) w/the Olsen twins, I’ve wanted to try that stuff. ;)
    Looks like I’ll need to keep an eye out for it!

  12. 12

    Ricki said,

    Am dying to try it. . . maybe I’ll spring for that teeny tiny jar at Loblaw’s!

  13. 13

    quarrygirl said,

    OMG OMG OMG i love vegemite! so happy to see this post!!! :) to be honest, i probably like marmite even more. ugh hard to choose. both are salty yeasty deliciousness.

  14. 14

    Mmm, I don’t know… My boyfriend had a jar of marmite for I-don’t-know-how-many-years in the student dorm, and I tried it once and hated it. But maybe I should give it another chance… Well, first I would have to find it. I’ll think about it but only because of your enthusiasm!

  15. 15

    shellyfish said,

    It’s definitely an aquired taste, reminds me of say coffee or fennel in that when you taste it for the first time it may seem strange, but then you find yourself missing it. I have the same problem you have – it’s very rare here in France so muy expensive!

  16. 16

    Amy said,

    Wow. Vegemite really is the quintessentially Aussie food! At the moment, we have a ginormous jar in the fridge (and I have my own one at work). It’s really yummy on fresh white bread with vegan margarine, on toast with vegan cheese (the American or Mozarella Tofutti slices is best), and off the spoon (once you’re used to it).

    My partner eats it on fruit bread. I SO don’t get that!

  17. 17

    Cecilia said,

    OMG!!!! This is such an AWESOME post <333 haha! Yea, I hated Vegemite when I first tried it, but after a few tries (like you) I can’t live without it!! So DELICIOUS with a bit of Nuttelex (like EB), mmmmm!!!!!

    p.s.: Yea a tsp does go a longgg way!!

    p.p.s: do you know that they sell Vegemite scrolls here?! – it is shaped like a cinnamon scroll but with Vegemite in them instead of cinnamon (and cheese instead of sugar), if only they made it with soy cheese!! :D

  18. 18

    Cindy said,

    I guess I’ll go buy some and try it out. Is it on that vegan 100 list?

  19. 19

    evestirs said,

    i havent had vegemite but i love marmite!

    so good on toast…sometimes i cook with it too.

  20. 20

    Thank you for the nice comment you left on my Halloweegan post! I’ve added you to my blogroll :)

    I’ve never had vegemite, but I am very intrigued!

  21. 21

    Tofufreak said,

    interesting! i’ve wondered for the longest time what that stuff was. can’t seem to find it anywhere around here either, or else i think i would give it a try.

  22. 22

    I’ve tried Marmite and thought it was too salty. I hope to try Vegemite in Australia soon! Maybe I’ll like it!

  23. 23

    Vegannifer said,

    Cool post! I’ve always wondered what vegemite was. Now I know and I should give it a try if I ever get the chance!

  24. 24

    s said,

    I love vegemite and nuttlex on toast. The other way to try it is in a sandwich with avocado (also as spread, not pieces).

  25. 25

    Andrea said,

    Ooooo Maureen. We spent six months down under and I never got quite as cozy with vegemite as you. I liked it spread (thinly) over margarine on toast. In fact I ate a lot of it that way. My kids, however, were addicted. They couldn’t get enough of the stuff. I didn’t miss it much when we got home but one of my sons mourned it’s loss for a long time!

    There was some other weird vegan stuff in a can that I was oddly attracted to. I loved it but I can’t remember the name anymore. It looked scary—kind of beige—but there was something about the taste that i craved.

  26. 26

    Valerie said,

    I’ve never had Vegemite, but have had Marmite. I love it, as I don’t care for sweet, but love the savouryness of it. I think the only difference between Marmite and Vegemite is the difference in the brewing styles of beer between Australia and Britain. Also, I’ve never seen Vegemite here, in Ontario (though that doesn’t mean it isn’t here), but Marmite is readily available.

  27. 27

    Niki Arrowsmith said,

    I Love vegemite….grew up eating it, (my Dad is Aussie and mum is Sri Lankan). Maureen, my uncle used to add a little bit of it to his black-peppery chicken curry. Maybe you should try adding it to curry dishes with TVP or tofu or something. I know I loved it.


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