I am an enthusiastic cook and I enjoy puddling about in the kitchen. Few things excite me more than the prospect of a new recipe to try out. When I was contemplating switching to a vegan diet, I felt a bit wary that my cooking would become very limited. I was under the impression that I would have to stop making all of my favourite non-vegan dishes and that any new recipe I tried would have to be vegan approved.
I quickly learned that it is very simple to adapt recipes that are intended to be made with meat, dairy or eggs to make them vegan-friendly. Today I want to share a list of the common non-vegan ingredients and the vegan alternatives that I typically use in their place.
Beef: Thickly sliced portobello Mushrooms. Thickly sliced eggplant. Seitan stir fry strips, black beans, Nut mince.
Chicken: Firm tofu, Fry’s rice protein and chia stir fry strips, Quorn vegan nuggets sliced into pieces, chickpeas, lentils.
Fish: Pulse chickpeas, lemon juice and a dash of soy sauce in the food processor. This makes an awesome alternative to tuna in sandwiches, pasta bakes and can be mixed with breadcrumbs and fried to make “phish” cakes.
Eggs: For baking, I use an egg substitute product called The Vegg. It’s a powder that you mix with water and add to your baking. It bakes really well and looks and smells like egg when you mix it up. Flaxseed oil or other vegetable oils can be used in place of eggs in baking. Applesauce may be used in sweet recipes.
Ham or bacon: For soups or stews that use ham or bacon, I like to add a can of white beans such as cannelini or butter beans for protein and texture. Liquid Smoke can also be added to give the smokey flavour that these cured meats add to cooked dishes.
Milk: There are so many milk substitutes to choose from that it can make a vegan’s head spin! My personal preferences for everyday are soy and almond milk. Coconut milk is naturally sweet for baking but can have a coconutty-flavour. Rice, oat and hemp milk are also great options.
Cream: For pasta sauces that call for cream, I like to blend silken tofu in the food processor until it’s smooth. For sweets and desserts, try this cashew cream recipe.
Sour cream: Simply blend silken tofu in a food processor until smooth and add a dash of lemon or lime juice, a pinch of paprika and a pinch of salt.
Cheese: Nutritional Yeast is perfect for adding a cheesy flavour to risotto, pasta bakes, soups or on top of pasta. My favourite vegan cheeses are Biocheese and Green Vee cheeses.
Butter: It’s easy to find vegan spreads on the supermarket shelf. My personal favourite is the Nuttlex Buttery Spread.
Beef or chicken stock: use vegetable broth. Alternatively, Massal stocks contain no animal products and come in beef and chicken flavours.
Gelatine: Agar flakes or powder.
When you become more practised at vegan cooking, you’ll get a feel for how to adapt regular recipes to make them suitable. When choosing your substituted ingredients, it’s important to consider the ingredient’s role in the recipe. Is the ingredient there for texture? To bind the mixture together? For flavour? This will help you to select a substitute that performs the same role so that your recipe is more likely to be a success.
Do you have any additions to this list? What do you substitute to make ordinary recipes vegan-friendly?