How to cook without oil on a plant-based diet? Don’t use water instead!

As you might have heard, oil is a highly processed food and all the plant-based doctors advise against it. Mic the Vegan even called it “The vegan killer” because it might be the one thing that could cause heart disease for vegans. But if you found this article you probably already know all that, and now you are wondering how to cook without using oil?

There are many reasons to cook without oil

Just in case you are still wondering why should you consider removing oil from your diet, here is a very good explanation from GojiMan. In this video below he covers 10 different negative health effects caused by oils. As far as my personal experience goes, when I removed oil from my home, I lost all my excess weight (without even trying) and dropped my blood pressure back to normal, after having hypertension for years.

10 different negative health effects caused by oil, explained by GojiMan.

The most common advice: “Use water instead!”

The most common advice is wrong. Who likes boiled or steamed onions – I don’t. Yuck. Someone made this up and now everyone is saying the same thing. “Just replace oil when sauteing with a little bit of water or vegetable stock.” NO! That’s steaming or even boiling if you put too much, but definitely not sauteing. We want caramelization!

Choose your pan

Choose your pan wisely. For dryer and more starch and protein-rich foods, you will definitely need a non-stick pan. I’m talking about patties, chickpea omeletts, crepes, tofu and such. But for vegetables and foods that contain a lot of water, you can use any kind of pan as long as you pre-heat it. Different people will suggest different types of cookware, usually, what they are most used to. But what is the best option?

The best kind of cookware

First, let’s mention some of the most popular options and see why they are not so good. Those are cast iron, copper, and aluminum. They all have one thing in common – they leach into your food, so by using them you risk ingesting dangerous amounts of iron, copper, or aluminum, respectively, as explained by Dr. Neil Barnard below. The best option turns out to be stainless steel.

Dr. Neal Barnard on which type of cookware to use.

The dangers of using non-stick cookware

There are many concerns out there about using non-stick cookware, but as you can see I still suggest it. That is because many concerns, for example about Teflon, aren’t true anymore. Teflon used to be made with PFOA – a substance that is very toxic and harmful to humans, but it hasn’t been used by most reputable Teflon brands for almost a decade now. Modern Teflon cookware (without PFOA) is considered harmless, even when ingested if used according to directions.

PFOA is a chemical that was previously used to manufacture Teflon. It has been linked to health conditions such as kidney and liver disease. However, all Teflon products have been PFOA-free since 2013., 29.1.2020

Don’t let nonstick cookware reach high temperatures

Sauteing onions and peanuts with no oil.

The most important thing when using non-stick cookware, especially Teflon is, that you should never let it reach high temperatures! Some brands even have indicators for that, so you know when your pan has heated enough. If that temperature (570°F or 300°C) is exceeded, the nonstick lining becomes unstable and gets damaged. Always respect the instructions that came with your cookware. As long as you don’t overheat your nonstick pan, it is perfectly safe to use.

Above 570°F (300°C), Teflon coatings may begin to break down, releasing toxic fumes into the air. These fumes can cause temporary, flu-like symptoms known as polymer fume fever. There are a number of ways to reduce your risk when cooking with nonstick cookware, including cooking on low-to-medium heat, using ventilation and taking care of your cookware. Most modern nonstick cookware is safe if you use it correctly., 29.1.2020

Sauteing vegetables without oil

So heat up your pan according to the instructions. If it’s a nonstick pan, just get it warm. Add your veggies one by one, adding a little pinch of salt, so they release water. This is totally optional, but it speeds up the process. Don’t touch them until they start to brown and lose water! You can spread them but don’t mix until you hear the sizzle dying down. When they are nice and brown and start to stick, because their water has evaporated, add the next veggie and do the same process again. That fresh veggie will release its water and deglaze the previous vegetable. Do this until you run out of veggies, putting the ones that need the least time in the end.

Sauteing dry vegetables like garlic and spices

Some vegetables like garlic and dried spices, don’t contain a lot of water. You should always put them into your pan with a vegetable that contains a lot of water or just save them until the end. This is very hard to do for some people since most of us have been putting garlic in first for most of our lives. But I like putting it last even better since it’s even more aromatic this way.

Deglazing the pan

Then and only then, you can add water if you want. Veggies are nice and caramelized, the Maillard reaction has already done its job, then you can add a splash of water or a sauce, to deglaze the rest of the pan. If the last vegetable you added had a lot of water, you might not even need to do that. Just take the pan off the heat as soon as your vegetables are done, otherwise, they will dry out and stick again. 

Roasting seeds and nuts

If you wish to roast some seeds or nuts, be sure to add them to the pan first. They need to be roasted dry. You can then set them aside or just roast them along with veggies. I leave them in the pan because I think they give a nice flavor to the rest of the veggies.


Enjoy these easy instructions on how to cook without oil. Feel free to save them or share them with your friends.

Easy instructions on how to cook without oil.

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