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What is Vegemite?

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 22, 2022

Vegemite took several years to gain popularity, even in Australia, where a chemist developed it. Once people began to enjoy it, they seemingly could not get enough of the product. What is Vegemite? Is it available in the U.S. for people who cannot travel to Australia to purchase the spread that is a staple item for the Australian people? 

We explore what Vegemite is, and how to enjoy it. We discuss Vegemite vs Marmite, so that you understand the similarities and the differences between the two products. Check out what we discovered about vegemite, including the benefits and the nutrition facts of this product. 

What is Vegemite? 

Vegemite is so popular that some people sneak it into their luggage when traveling because of the fear of not being able to purchase it when they travel abroad. So, what is it and who developed it? 

Vegemite is a shiny, thick, dark brown paste that is made from brewer’s yeast, which is an extract left at the bottom of the barrel during beer production. The spread has no artificial colors and no artificial flavors. It contains salt, concentrated amounts of celery and onion, and malt extract from barley. The Spruce Eats reveals that it also contains B vitamins. It has a salty, savory, rich flavor.

Dr. Cyril Callister, a chemist with the Fred Walker Company, developed Vegemite in the early 1920s. It did not catch on with shoppers until 1939. Mental Floss explains that the product got its name through a nationwide competition. Entrants submitted their ideas for the name. Fred Walker’s daughter drew the winning entry, Vegemite, out of a hat. The person who submitted the winning entry received a cash prize. 

Once shoppers started purchasing the product, the British Medical Association officially endorsed Vegemite in 1939. Advertisements in the British Medical Journal soon followed the endorsement. 

How to Use Vegemite 

Australians enjoy Vegemite spread on toast or crackers. People also use the thick, dark-colored paste in sandwiches, crumpets and in cooking. The Food Network suggests using it as a soup enhancer or in a stew because of its umami flavor. Bakeries in Australia sometimes use it in baked goods. 

There is another use for Vegemite, which resulted in a ban. Some inmates reportedly used Vegemite to make booze in Australian prisons. The action resulted in a ban of the product in some jails and prisons. 

You only need a small amount of Vegemite, no matter how you use it. The reason is because of its intensity. Use no more than one-fourth teaspoon to start and adjust to your taste. 

Do you wonder if this is a vegan product? It is one of 500 Australian products that are certified vegan.  

Make sure that you purchase the original flavor, the gluten free option or the 40% less salt option, and not the Cheesybite Vegemite, which is not a vegan option because it contains dairy.  

Nutritional Facts and Benefits 

Vegemite is high in B vitamins. It provides 50 percent of the RDI of Vitamin B1, (thiamin) and 50 percent of the RDI of Vitamin B9 (folate). Vegemite provides 25 percent of the RDI of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and 25 percent of the RDI of Vitamin B3 (niacin). It also contains seven percent of the RDI of sodium. 

The nutritional facts may change if you purchase a flavor other than the original option. Healthline gives the example that the Vegemite Reduced Salt version has less sodium, and provides 25 percent of Vitamin B6 and B12. 

What are some benefits of Vegemite? Let’s take a look at some benefits, which include: 

  • Reduces cholesterol levels 
  • Reduces migraine headaches 
  • May reduce heart disease risk factors 
  • May boost brain health and reduce anxiety or stress  

Reduces cholesterol levels 

The niacin in Vegemite helps to reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels. It may raise your HDL or “good” cholesterol level by up to 35 percent. 

WebMD indicates that you should discuss how much niacin to consume with your doctor, because too much niacin is potentially dangerous. If you consume too much niacin, you may experience side effects such as abnormal heart rhythms, heart palpitations, flushed skin or itching.  

Reduces migraine headaches 

Study results show that Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may help to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. Remember that one teaspoon of Vegemite provides 25 percent of your RDI of Vitamin B2. 

May reduce heart disease risk factors 

Researchers that reviewed studies discovered that Vitamin B3 may reduce triglyceride levels by up to 50 percent. People who have both high triglycerides and cholesterol levels may experience a reduced risk of heart disease if they have healthy levels of Vitamin B3 in their body. 

May boost brain health and reduce anxiety or stress 

Do you experience anxiety and stress? Participants in one study who regularly consumed the yeast-based spread experienced fewer symptoms of stress and anxiety.  

Vegemite may boost brain health. People with higher levels of B vitamins may have better performance in learning and memory. People who have low levels of B vitamins may have an increased risk of poor memory, learning difficulties, nerve damage and brain damage. 

Vegemite may help to reduce fatigue, and may help to prevent certain birth defects. 

Vegemite vs Marmite

Marmite is another thick, brown-colored yeast extract spread product. Marmite is enjoyed by many people when spread on toast or used as a spread on a sandwich. Marmite is sometimes used in pasta sauces.  

What is the difference between compare marmite vs vegemite? Both products were developed by chemists, although a German chemist invented marmite and produced it in the United Kingdom, not in Australia.  

There are differences between the two products. Vegemite is a dark brown, almost black, thick spread. The consistency is similar to peanut butter. Marmite is more of a caramel color, and has more of a syrupy consistency. 

The primary similarity is that both products are vegan. 


Why does Vegemite come in such small jars? 

You need a very small amount of Vegemite. One small jar lasts a long time. 

Are there other similar products? 

Yes, Promite is a salty food paste used in a similar manner as Vegemite. 

Is Vegemite sold in the U.S.? 

Purchase Vegemite online or at the big box store to enjoy the Aussie staple pantry food. 

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