A Quick Guide to Vegan Substitutes
I have some shocking information for you today: Did you know that you can be vegan and still enjoy delicious cheeses and baked goods and ice cream?! Yup, you just need to find the vegan substitutes, my friends. It's 2018 and the options are aplenty! If you're still struggling to find the right stuff, here is my quick guide to vegan substitutes to make it a bit easier.
I do want to clarify that I can only confirm easy access to readily available vegan substitutes in major cities of the US. I have had a much harder time in smaller towns or while traveling internationally. However, a lot of the DIY options suggested below can be made with simple ingredients found nearly anywhere.
Okay, this one should be pretty easy.... If you haven't already found all the miraculous kinds of vegan milk, then you are in for a treat. There are now many varieties: soy, almond, coconut, hemp, sunflower, rice, etc. AND you can enjoy different flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and strawberry. Even better, there are now coffee creamers!
I am a simple kind of gal and generally stick with a non-sweetened coconut-almond blend. I would suggest avoiding the extra sugars that are in most of the flavored or sweet varieties. However, this gal also loves some delicious vanilla creamer! It's all about balance...
This one is not as easy as alternative milk options, but there is a shocking number of vegan cheeses in natural food stores across the US. I haven't found as much internationally, but I am sure they are there somewhere. To be completely honest, I have not found many "meltable cheeses" that I like. However, you can usually find some awesome spreadable cheeses that typically have a nut base.
If you are interested in making your own, I love making vegan parm. It is super easy if you can find Nutritional Yeast in your grocery store (again, I've struggled to find this outside of the US). Into cheese balls? Try out this easy garlic and herb vegan cheese! I'm also really into vegan cheese sauce, like this garlic alfredo recipe.
Let's be real for a quick sec, tofu eggs are not really my favorite thing on the planet. However, you can cook up a mean breakfast burrito or bowl and then I am a fan! You can buy egg substitutes in the refrigerated section of some natural food stores or you can make your own.
If you need eggs for baking, there are plenty of wonderful substitutes that do the same "job" as an egg. These ingredients will help give the baked goods structure, moisture, and help the goods rise. To replace ONE egg, you can use any of the following recipes:
- 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed and 3 tablespoons of water
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water (let sit for 15 minutes)
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (fluffiest texture)
- 1/2 to 1 mashed banana
- 1/4 cup of applesauce
There are also artificial egg mixtures you can buy, such as Ener-G Egg Replacer, but I have never personally used it.
There are a ton of butter substitutes on the market that are various forms of margarine. I try to avoid them because they usually go through a lot of processing and that's not really my jam. Instead, I opt for coconut oil a lot of the time for a vegan replacement.
I know some friends who really enjoying making their own vegan butter. While I do not tend to do this often, DIY vegan butter is a lot easier than you would think and the texture and flavor are pretty damn good.
There are a TON of meat substitute options for the modern vegan. Whether you are into DIY nut-meat (like me) or soy-based chicken nuggets, you can pretty much find anything you would like nowadays.
However, I would warn you to really think about your choice to eat more vegan before purchasing a ton of processed vegan meat options. Are you eating vegan to eat healthier and avoid putting harmful things into your body? Yay! In that case, I would avoid the majority of soy or "texturized vegetable protein" faux meat options, although it sounds so appetizing. If you look at the ingredients list and have no clue what it says, I'd avoid it. Vegan does not always mean healthy.
If you are interested in making your own meat varieties at home, cheers to you! Some of my all-time favorite meals are made with nut-meat. Ground nuts can create a texture very similar to any other ground meat and you can do incredible things with the flavors. It is perfect for tacos, faux burgers, nachos, etc. Check out these recipes.
Other things that can be used to replace meat: tofu, lentils, tempeh, mushrooms, seitan, and jackfruit (one of my faves).
Wanna make some vegan tacos? I have a recipe for you >
Just like everything else, we are blessed in 2018 with a generous supply of vegan ice cream options at most major supermarkets. Even local gelato shops are starting to sell vegan options. Praise the dessert gods!
If you are interested in making veg-friendly ice cream at home, there are plenty of healthier ways to enjoy this treat.
- Blend: 3 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup coconut cream, dash of vanilla, extras (maple syrup, vegan chocolate chips, coconut flakes, peanut butter, oreos, etc.)
- Blend: 2 cups of frozen fruit, 1/2 cup coconut cream (try strawberry)
For fancier homemade ice cream option, try one of these 16 recipes from the Minimalist Baker.
Just kidding. Wine is already vegan. So you should drink it 🙂
I know I missed plenty of other vegan substitutes. Some of my favorites to make are ranch, mayo, sour cream, yogurt, etc. However, there are so many options in grocery stores now for all of these vegan needs, that it is becoming less stress to find. Worst case, you can Pinterest any substitute you need and pretty much find what you are looking for.
Do you cook vegan at home? How about meatless Mondays? What are your favorite substitutes? Let's keep the conversation going down below!
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