Switching to a vegan diet or reducing your meat consumption doesn’t mean that you have to give up your favorite dishes. One of the most common reasons people are hesitant to switch to a more plant-based diet is they are afraid they will miss their favorite foods. But on the contrary, with a few minor tweaks, you can make almost anything vegan.
As the demand for vegan options increases, new brands are popping up offering plant-based alternatives that are nearly indistinguishable from their animal-based counterparts. If you’re open to getting a bit creative, then there are many different ways you can veganize any of your favorite dishes.
Get to know your vegan substitutes
The first step to veganizing any dish is knowing your substitutes. When you look at a recipe, you’ll need to eliminate the animal products and replace them with a plant-based alternative that will serve the same purpose.
Let’s look at the best substitutions for common animal-based ingredients. Make sure you bookmark this one!
It’s no secret that many mouth-watering recipes contain meat. But there are easy swaps that you can make in your favorite dishes that will taste equally, if not more, delicious.
Tofu, tempeh, seitan, TVP (textured vegetable protein), and soy are commonly used meat replacements in vegan cooking. You can use them in place of meat in:
Many brands use soy, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and TVP in their vegan meat alternative products. And they are becoming so popular that it’s easy to find them just about anywhere, including at many restaurants.
Some other great meat alternatives you can use to veganize your favorite dishes include:
- Beans/legumes (black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, pinto beans)
If a recipe contains milk or cream and you’re looking for an effective swap, you don’t need to look very hard. Milk is one of the easiest things to replace since there are so many different options available. You can use these swaps for beverages, to make cream sauces, or in your favorite desserts:
- Almond milk
- Oat milk
- Coconut milk
- Rice milk
- Soy milk
- Hemp milk
- Cashew milk
You can find most of these milk alternatives sweetened, unsweetened, unflavored, or with added flavor. If you’re making pasta sauces, curries, or a cheese sauce, you’ll want to ensure the milk is unsweetened with no flavor added. But for desserts or in recipes like pancakes, you may want one that is already sweetened.
Everything is not better with butter, as many people would believe. Butter is almost entirely composed of fat, both saturated and trans fats. Butter increases bad cholesterol in your blood, so even though it might taste good, it is not good for you.
Butter is used in various dishes, including everything from roasted vegetables, to mashed potatoes, cakes, pasta, and everything in between. Luckily, you don’t need butter to achieve the notorious buttery flavor in your favorite recipes.
Here are some effective substitutes:
- Vegan butter
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Vegetable stock
Eggs are often used in recipes are a binder or thickener. But they are also used as the main event in many favorite dishes like omelets, scrambled eggs, and quiche. Regardless of how you like your eggs, you can still enjoy their taste on a plant-based diet.
You can also make scrambles, omelets, or quiche using tofu with turmeric for color and black salt for the sulfuric taste. Chickpea flour, also called gram flour, can also be used to make omelets.
If eggs are used in a recipe as a binder or thickener, you can substitute:
- Silken tofu
- Chia seeds
- Xantham gum
- Mashed banana
- Apple sauce
Cheese can be one of the hardest animal products to give up since, until recently, it’s been hard to find vegan options that taste exactly like the real thing. But brands are getting close! Even the most basic grocery stores across the United States likely have vegan cheese options. If you live near an H-E-B, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or other health food store, then your options will be even greater. There are fantastic vegan cheese brands offering everything from mature cheddar to vegan parmesan.
Depending on what recipe you’re trying to cook, you may not even need to use vegan cheese to recreate the cheesy, creamy flavor. If you’re making a cheesy sauce, you can use:
- Plant-based milk
- Nutritional yeast
- Cashew cream
Some of your favorite dishes, veganized
Now that we’ve covered the best ways to substitute plant-based options into your favorite dishes, here are some delicious recipes where you can put your knowledge into practice.
1. Chick’n Fried Steak Waffles
This classic Texan dish may sound as meaty as it can get, but with a few swaps, you can enjoy an entirely plant-based version. For the waffles, you can use any vegan biscuit recipe that you like. Most of them are vegan already anyway!
For the Chick’n we use Pepper + Sea Salt Vegan Jerky with a herby dry coating. For the wet batter, you can use navy bean aquafaba, which helps hold it all together.
Check out the full chick’n fried steak waffles recipe here.
2. Hatch Chipotle Tacos
You can’t beat the flavor explosion of delicious meaty tacos. Tacos are always a crowd-pleaser and great for when you’re entertaining. This recipe is made with roasted hatch chili pepper, fresh corn, and Prickly Pear Chipolte Jerky in place of meat.
You can find the entire chipotle tacos recipe here.
3. Loaded baked potatoes
With so many animal-based ingredients in a classic loaded baked potato, it’s hard to believe that the vegan version could taste as good. But you can get all the cheesy, bacony goodness with this recipe. It includes vegan cheese sauce, All Y’alls Vegan Bacony Bits, vegan sour cream, broccoli, and chickpeas.
Find the full recipe, plus other recipes using Bacony Bits here.