Eating a vegan diet shouldn’t mean letting go of your favourite foods and flavours. Whether you are beginner vegan or cooking for a vegan friend, making animal-friendly food is now easier than ever. Even common ingredients like cheese, eggs, milk and even meat have easy vegan alternatives and substitutions. Here, we show you how to easily make your most-loved recipes (even the meatiest ones) with a vegan twist. These easy substitutions will help make your dreams of fluffy vegan pancakes, vegan cheese and even vegan alfredo sauce a tasty reality.
Most major grocery stores now have a vegan food aisle, complete with vegan “cheeses” that are shredded, sliced and bursting with real-dairy appeal. There are lots of great vegan cheese brands to choose from, but you can also make it yourself. To make your own vegan “cheese” at home, you’ll want to pick up nutritional yeast, a vegan staple with a rich, Parmesan-meets-cheddar flavour. Nutritional yeast can be pulsed in a food processor or blender with soaked raw cashews or medium-firm tofu to make a ricotta-style “cheese,” or pulverized with walnuts to make pasta-perfect “parmesan.” To make tangy, vegan Greek “feta,” skip the nutritional yeast and instead crumble medium-firm tofu into a bowl, then toss with distilled white or white wine vinegar, black pepper, salt and dried oregano.
Vegan Egg Substitute
In baking recipes like cookies and muffins, if you’re replacing just one egg, you can simply use 2 Tbsp of water in its place. If a recipe calls for two to three eggs, it’s time to pull from your egg-free bag of tricks. For the same volume of eggs, use mashed banana, a pinch of baking powder mixed with applesauce, soy yogurt or ground flaxseeds mixed with water. In savoury baking, like quiche, try soft (silken) tofu blended until smooth with a bit of flour and salt.
Vegan Milk and Cream Substitute
Even meat-eating households have some form of non-dairy “milk” in the fridge. Take your pick of delicious and nutrient-rich soy, coconut, rice, almond, oat and cashew milks, and add to recipes in the exact quantity called for. Buy unsweetened varieties, for use in both savoury and sweet recipes, and try full-fat canned coconut milk as an alternative to regular heavy whipping cream. To make vegan buttermilk, add 1 Tbsp lemon juice per 1 cup of non-dairy milk.
Vegan Substitute for Meat and Poultry
While you can have your pick of prepared vegan “meats,” many plant-based cooks prefer to keep things all-natural. Cooked, mashed lentils make an amazing base for “meaty” meatless pies, while portobello and shiitake mushrooms add big, bold umami taste to any dish. For burgers, turn cooked, mashed beans and rice into patties, or roll into “meatballs” to serve with tomato sauce and pasta.
Vegan margarine and “butter” are an easy, store-bought solution to any recipe calling for the stuff, but there’s another option, too. Coconut butter or coconut oil can be mixed with water and added to your recipe as a creamy substitute. For every 1 cup of butter in a recipe, use 3/4 cup liquefied coconut butter or coconut oil and 1/4 cup of water.
Vegan Sauces and Condiments
This may surprise you, but animal products are hiding in many common condiments and sauces. Worcestershire sauce, Caesar salad dressing and puttanesca sauce all contain anchovies, a good number of prepared miso pastes contain fish and mayonnaise is loaded with eggs. Check out your local health food store or your grocery store’s vegan aisle to purchase plant-based alternatives. Or, if you have the time, you may even want to try making them yourself.
You can have your cream sauce and eat it, too. Try this decadent (but healthy!) Vegan Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo, and kick dairy to curb.