Thinking of going vegan for 2020, or including more vegan options to your repertoire?
Switching to a vegan diet can be daunting, but to ease the transition, here are some accessible vegan alternatives.
Here we share 18 Vegan Alternatives with the help of some of our best recipe writers.
This nutrient-dense fruit can add a creamy body and boost of flavor to almost anything. You can add Avocados to pesto sauce as a substitute for cheese or whipped up as a spread for sandwiches.
Blending raw cashews with water is a perfect cream alternative for savory dishes like fettuccine alfredo.
- Dark Chocolate
Pure dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and is a great milk chocolate replacement for non-dairy desserts.
Vinegar is a great egg replacement especially for cakes. When combined with baking soda, vinegar acts as a binding agent and creates a moist texture.
- Non-dairy milk
Soy, Almond, and Rice milk are fabulous vegan alternatives to dairy milk. They are lower in fat and can be used interchangeably in any recipe, from milkshakes to creamy soups. Also Popular non-dairy milks include oat, hazelnut, cashew, soy, almond and hemp. It’s also easy to make your own by soaking raw nuts, blending with water and straining. Alternative milks not only are great subs for drinks but also can be used in many recipes for cooking and baking. We like to use soymilk in baking recipes as it can be soured with acids like apple cider vinegar and used in place of buttermilk. Check our recipes on how to make Almond Milk and Oat Milk at home.
- Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is high in protein and B vitamins. Its natural flavor and yellow coloring make it a great substitute for cheese.
- Almond Butter
Almond butter has a mild taste and is a great source of protein and fiber. It adds a thick, velvety texture to smoothies or shakes. For nut allergies, try hemp butter.
Crimini, Shiitake, Portobello, and Oyster mushrooms all have a juicy hearty texture that is perfect for replacing meat. Ground into veggie burgers or charred on the grill, mushrooms are a succulent substitution for meat in any form.
- Coconut Milk
Canned coconut milk is nature’s substitute for sweet heavy cream! Chocolate mousse, ganache, and whipped cream can all be made vegan with this simple replacement.
One of our favorite Vegan Alternatives, Jackfruit is a non-processed ingredient that you’ll often find in cans, meaning you can stock up in the cupboard. Having been widespread in Asia for decades, it’s now soaring in popularity, with pulled pork the most common, go-to recipe for this substitute, as it mimics the shredded texture so accurately. It makes a great replacement for chicken, perhaps in a stir-fry, but can also be prepared to resemble tuna. Lately, I’ve tried some really creative and delicious dishes; jackfruit tacos, gyros, and even crab cakes.
The water from a can of chickpeas is a superb substitute for egg white. It can used to make meringues, mousses and lots of bakes like macarons, sponges and brownies. Add chickpea water to dairy-free buttercream and you’ll get a much lighter frosting. I even mix it with icing sugar and lemon juice to make a vegan royal icing.
It can even be a central ingredient in dairy free batter and sauces like mayonnaise. You may find it useful in cocktails, too – a vegan can have a whisky sour after all!
Try these vegan aquafaba meringues.
Often called vital wheat gluten, seitan is made from wheat protein. There are loads of off-the-shelf products available, but you could also make your own. With seasonings, you can flavour a dry mix made with wheat gluten flour, then create a wet mix using alternative milk, tofu and any flavourings you like (depending on your desired outcome). Mix the two together into a dough and knead well.
If you’re craving fast food, you can fry it in chunks with seasoned batter for a fried chicken substitute. For a healthier alternative, it can be roasted, grilled or oven cooked. It’s a good substitute for duck, beef, bacon and sausage, and can be paired with most cuisines, but it seems to be most popular with Asian food, having originated in China where it’s been used as a source of protein for centuries.
Discover this spicy vegan fried seitan recipe and you won’t look back.
- Creams and yogurts – Vegan Alternatives
Similarly to alternative milks, there’s an array of plant-based yogurts – perfect for adding to fruits, cereals, or just having on their own as a snack. They can be used for baking and cooking, too.
Similarly to other vegan alternatives dairy-free products, they’re fortified with vitamins but also filled with probiotic bacteria – meaning vegans can get some of the same health benefits as ordinary, dairy yogurt.
We like to use coconut-based creams and yogurts in Indian and Asian curries as the flavour works well, but in some cases I go for a blander more neutral yogurt alternative, such as soy or almond, for other recipes or toppings. It’s worth experimenting. Try this recipe for vegan soured cream – it’s the perfect for topping for these pulled jackfruit tacos.
- Tofu and Tempeh
Made from soybeans, tofu is a less-processed substitute for meat as it’s a complete protein. The firm variety is best for cooking in savoury dishes, and you can use the softer types for things like tofu scramble in place of egg, or add to puddings and bakes. Tofu can be sliced, diced, or cubed to achieve a meaty consistency. For best results, freeze a package of tofu, and then defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
Tempeh is made with fermented soybeans and is firmer in texture. It’s a great substitute for protein in Asian recipes, but also really good as ‘bacon’ if you thinly slice and fry it. We brush it with a mix of Marmite, maple syrup and hickory smoke after frying for a few seconds each side, to give it a savoury smoky bacon flavour. Both tofu and tempeh are great vehicles for flavour, so work well in lots of dishes.
- Alternative cheeses
It’s tricky to replicate the real deal, but alternative cheeses are really improving. They’re made using a variety of ingredients, including coconuts, aquafaba, nuts and solidified vegetable oil. It’s best to opt for one fortified with vitamin B12 and calcium.
A number of cheese substitutes are available now such as Sheese, which is imported in Malta by J. Calleja Import & Export Ltd, from mozzarella-style to cheddar and cream cheese. Recently, there are quite a few ‘artisan’ vegan cheese brands around, too. Lastly, as a good substitute for parmesan, try using dried nutritional yeast flakes. Not only is it a great source of B12 and other B vitamins, but it has a savoury flavour that pairs well with pasta and salads.
- Cheat or mock meats
In place of processed foods like chicken nuggets, burgers, fish fingers, sausages and hotdogs, there are a number of options for any fast food you might miss.
You may have heard of Beyond Meat; a bleeding-style plant based burger. Its hype in the US now means it’s available in supermarkets and some restaurants too. Beyond Meat counts actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Microsoft founder Bill Gates among its investors.
Recently, we tried this amazingly Burger roślinny by Dobra Kaloria in Warsaw, Poland, which is available in Major supermarkets, some supermarkets have their own ranges in addition to big brands, and new, smaller start-up companies are contributing to more vegan alternatives, too.
Most of us may know how important butter is in baking. It acts as a binder, binding together all the ingredients while adding moistness to the final product. In baking, butter is combined with sugar in a process called creaming. It lets air into the mixture and prevents a cake from becoming too dense. Butter is also important in baking cookies. It adds a light texture to those sweet treats aside from preventing them from becoming too crispy.
So can vegan butter be used in baking? Yes but only when you use vegan-based ingredients.
There are plenty of different dairy-free butter brands out there. We’ve settled on Flora or our Creamy and super buttery homemade vegan butter.
- Whole egg substitutes
Powdered egg substitutes are more commonly found in specific health stores. Some obvious uses include bakes and breakfast meals.
We prefer to make and use a more simple flax egg for our baking recipes by mixing hot water with flax meal. Chia seeds also work well as an egg substitute. I’ve mentioned above about chickpea water (aquafaba), but that’s used as more of an egg white substitute.
It’s amazing to think that only a few years ago, vegans were limited to a few options or a small section of obscure products in supermarkets. Ever-expanding vegan trends and the number of people trying out the lifestyle are driving the rise of new and exciting substitutes, so it’s worth exploring what’s available to find the best products for you.