If you’re thinking of becoming a vegan and are daunted by the task of replacing all your favourite foods, here is a guide to vegan substitutes to help you transition!
So you've decided to go vegan! Maybe it's because of the environmental impact, or maybe it's your love for animals that has driven you to this decision; either way, making a huge change in your diet can definitely be daunting. Food habits are some of the hardest to change, to the point where the question easily becomes: "How can I make this new food habit stick?"
The key is taking it one day at a time. While going cold turkey on animal products is certainly a valid option, it's not for everyone, and sometimes making such a drastic change in habits, overnight, can set you up for failure. Build small, start with three substitutions and work your way up from there. Finding substitutes you genuinely enjoy eating also makes a total overhaul in your diet easier to accept. Like two sides to a coin, the wide range of options will definitely help you find what you like, but having so many options can also overwhelm someone who's starting their journey.
There are many easy to make or use substitutes that do a wonderful job standing in for the original. Here, we'll take a look at some amazing vegan substitutes, and by the end of this post, you'll also know how to make your own non-dairy milk!
Meat lovers definitely have a hard time making a switch. And finding something you like can be tricky. The good news is, that with cell-based meat slowly becoming a reality, you probably won't have to stay vegan for a long, but in the meantime, here are some great meat substitutes:
Mushrooms are a hit or miss for some people, but if you like mushrooms and are transitioning to a vegan diet, mushrooms can help with some of those cravings. There is a wide variety out there and many fresh and dried versions are available in most stores and you can prepare them just about any way you like!
Another fantastic meat substitute with lots of protein. But the texture can be off-putting for some. It definitely takes some getting used to. There are some great ways to prepare tofu, however, and there's sure to be a style of preparation that gets your mouth watering.
For firm tofu with a chewy texture, like that of meat, it is recommended to press your tofu with heavy pans to remove any extra water and then freezing it. When it thaws, the structure changes slightly. Don't worry, it's not going bad, it just helps imitate a meat-like texture.
If that's too much work for you, just be sure to buy the firmest tofu you can find, and dry the cut pieces as much as possible before cooking. The texture is more palatable, and if you choose to make stir-fries with tofu, this method will give you a crisp outside.
Silky soft tofu is also fantastic for making desserts! Vegan cheesecake anyone?
Jackfruit undergoes a magical transformation when it's cooked, becoming neutral in flavour. The natural stringy texture is perfect for replacing meat! With the right combination of spices, you probably will not be able to tell the difference between jackfruit and real stuff.
Beans are super versatile and chock full of protein. Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, there are all kinds of beans available in almost any store and you can prepare them in several ways. Burgers, stews, curries and so much more.
Textured Soya Protein
Also commonly known as soya chunks or soya mince. The meat-like texture is a great and affordable meat-replacer. There also some easy tricks to make the flavour as neutral as possible so you can flavour as you like. When soaking the nuggets or mince, wash and squeeze water several times before adding your desired spices and flavourings. No one will be able to tell it's not meat!
Cheese has been proven to be addictive and is probably one of the more popular food products across the world. The sheer variety and flavours of cheeses available is enough to scare any well-meaning person away from veganism. The phrase "I can give up anything but cheese" is not a new statement. But going vegan doesn't have to mean no more cheese!
These amazing flakes of umami flavour are the KEY to making your own vegan cheeses or achieving that delicious cheesy flavour. Now, nutritional yeast isn't particularly cheap, but it is a very handy product to have around the house and well worth the purchase. Plus, a little goes a long way.
Quite literally, nutritional yeast boasts a high nutrient content and is a great source of vitamins B6 and B12 as well as protein while being low in fat. Sprinkling nutritional yeast on just about anything is a great way to consume it with no extra effort on your part!
Although vegan cheeses are popping up in large stores, they are pricey and homemade versions are cheaper and more fun to make. Cashews make a great ingredient for making non-dairy cheese substitutes. With different but simple methods, you can have cheese with only 10 to 15 minutes of hands-on work!
Potato and Carrot
Surprisingly, veggies are a great way to make a nut-free, super cheap, and delicious cheese sauce substitute. This means you can enjoy Mac and Cheese with zero guilt. And you're also sneaking in some vital nutrients.
Butter makes everything better, but it's not the only fat that can make delicious food. Here are some other options that will definitely get you to become more experimental with the various types of oils available in supermarkets near you.
Coconut oil has a bit of a flavour that everyone may not find as appealing, but in a large number of uses, it is an absolutely perfect alternative to butter. It's also a great fat to bake with.
This is also a great neutral oil to cook and bake with. You can easily substitute these oils for butter in recipes that call for melted or softened butter.
Margarine/ Hydrogenated Vegetable Fat
Although some kinds of margarine use milk solids to help provide a more buttery flavour to the end product, there are many that keep it purely vegan with absolutely no animal products. Be sure to read the ingredients label before buying!
If you used to bake before your transition or you enjoyed eggs before wanting to give them up to become a vegan, you probably miss them a lot. There are options for baking and cooking! Vegan scrambled eggs are just one shopping trip away from becoming your new favourite breakfast.
Ground flax/chia seeds soaked in water make for a gooey mixture that works as an egg replacement in baking. Chia seeds are also natural thickeners and you can easily make pudding out of chia seeds, non-dairy milk substitutes, and your choice of flavourings!
Mashed bananas are a wonderful replacement for eggs in desserts. Bananas are good binding agents but lend a denser texture to the final baked product. Also, bananas definitely have a flavour, so they aren't the most neutral option. But in certain flavour combinations, bananas may be the perfect choice!
Softer tofu can be used as an egg replacer in baking too, but that's not all! With the right spices and a good hot pan, you can recreate scrambled eggs without ever needing an actual egg!
Although the name sounds a little weird, all it really is is the water left over after cooking chickpeas. The protein-rich water behaves like an egg white when it is whipped, turning thick and white. If you like challenges in the kitchen, try using aquafaba as a replacement in a meringue recipe.
Honey is perhaps the easiest to replace. Although you lose the distinctive honey flavour, there are equally delicious options that are sure to make your sweet tooth happy. Notably, honey substitutes are just as expensive (if not more so) than their animal-based counterparts, but depending on the kind you buy, a little will go a long way!
Plant-based, agave nectar looks an awful lot like honey and even has a similar thick and sticky consistency. The flavour is a lot cleaner, distinctly sweet and probably healthier for you than honey! It also has a similar caloric value as honey but is sweeter than both honey and sugar, which means you only need a little for a big impact.
This rich, and delicious syrup is loved by millions across the world on pancakes and waffles, but the complex flavour of maple syrup makes it perfect for so much more than just a carb-laden breakfast! Maple syrup is a great alternative as a plant-based sweetener. The intense flavour here also means more bang for your buck.
If you're looking to replace milk in your diet, you'll be glad to know that there are TONNES of options available in your local store. It's also incredibly easy to make at home and all you really need is a cheesecloth, a blender/mixer, and water. Soy milk and almond milk are popular options that are readily available in most stores, but there are three main types of milk substitutes. Making these milk substitutes at home needs only four things — cheesecloth/ nut milk bag/ muslin/ clean cotton t-shirt, water, the ingredient of your choice and a blender!
Nut-based Milk Substitutes
Like the name suggests, these types of milk substitutes depend on nuts as a base for making nut-milk. Almond, cashew, hazelnut, pistachio... the options are limited only to your imagination.
Nut-Free Milk Substitutes
Not everyone can eat nuts, some can't stand the flavour or texture, others are dangerously allergic to tree-nuts. Nut-free kinds of milk can be made from soya beans, oats or even rice! They have a neutral flavour and absorb flavours quite well!
Blended Milk Substitutes
Single-origin vegan milk substitutes are easy to find and immensely popular, but growing in popularity are milk blends. Each vegan milk substitute has its own range of nutritional benefits and textures. Almond milk is far thinner than cashew milk, and soya milk is high in protein. Using different nuts and seeds in milk blends can help you achieve the perfect texture!
The best thing about vegan diets is perhaps the incredibly wide variety of food products and substitutes, the use of which is entirely limited to your imagination! People have managed to make vegan blue cheese at home and creamy delicious recipes without a single trace of animal products. We hope this list is helpful. Let us know in the comments what your favourite vegan hacks are!