Switching to a vegan diet might be daunting, but here are some easy alternatives to help you get started.
Jackfruit is a versatile and surprisingly inexpensive non-processed ingredient that comes in cans, allowing you to stock up in the cupboard. It’s been popular in Asia for decades. Still, it’s now gaining traction in the United States, with pulled pork being the most popular go-to dish for this alternative because it precisely mimics the shredded texture. It can be used as a replacement for chicken, but it can also be prepared to look like tuna. I’ve recently tried jackfruit tacos, gyros, and even crab cakes, all of which were quite creative and delicious.
The water from a can of chickpeas works well as an egg white substitute. It can be used to make mousses, meringues, and lots of bakes like macarons, brownies, and sponges. When you add chickpea water to dairy-free buttercream, the icing becomes significantly lighter. I even make vegan royal icing with it by combining it with lemon juice and icing sugar.
It can even be used to make dairy-free batter and sauces such as mayonnaise. You could find it useful in cocktails as well – after all, a vegan can have a whisky sour!
Seitan is made from wheat protein and is also known as vital wheat gluten. There are several commercially available options, but you may also make your own. With seasonings, you can flavor a dry mix made with a wheat gluten flour, then make a wet mix using alternative milk, tofu, and any flavorings you prefer (depending on your desired outcome). Next, combine the two ingredients in dough and knead thoroughly.
If you’re in the mood for fast food, fry it in chunks with seasoned batter to make a fried chicken replacement. It can be roasted, grilled, or baked for a healthy alternative. It’s a good substitution for beef, duck, beef, and sausage in various dishes. However, it seems to be most popular in Asian cuisine, having originated in China and being utilized as a source of protein for centuries.
4. Milk substitutes
Popular non-dairy milk includes hazelnut, cashew, oat, almond, hemp, and soy. It’s also simple to make your own by soaking raw nuts in water, mixing, and straining. Alternative milk is not only excellent subs for drinks, but it can also be utilized in a variety of cooking and baking dishes.
I advise you to experiment with different types because they work better in certain recipes. There’s an oat barista milk, for example, that’s ideal for producing classic frothy coffees. But, unfortunately, the producer can’t keep up with demand, and there have been a few shortages, prompting consumers to stockpile!
Soymilk, which can be soured with acids like apple cider vinegar and used in place of buttermilk in baking recipes, is one of my favorites.
5. Alternative cheeses
It’s difficult to replicate the real deal, but alternative cheeses are getting better all the time. Most supermarkets now have their brands and a variety of other brands, so there’s plenty to sample. They’re made from aquafaba, nuts, coconuts, and solidified vegetable oil, among other things.
It’s best to opt for one fortified with calcium and vitamin B12.
There are a variety of cheese alternatives available, ranging from mozzarella to cream cheese and cheddar. Recently, there has been a slew of ‘artisan’ vegan cheese brands on the market. Finally, dried nutritional yeast flakes can be used as a parmesan alternative. It’s not just high in B12 and other B vitamins, but it also has a savory taste that goes well with pasta and salads.
6. Alternative creams and yogurts
Plant-based yogurts, like alternative milk, come in a variety of flavors that are great for mixing with fruits, cereals, or eating on their own as a snack. They’re also good for baking and cooking.
They’re fortified with vitamins and loaded with probiotic bacteria, much like other dairy-free alternatives so that vegans can get some of the same health benefits as regular dairy yogurt.
I love coconut-based creams and yogurts in Asian and Indian curries because the flavor works well, but I prefer a blander, more neutral yogurt, such as almond or soy for other recipes or toppings. But, again, it’s worth experimenting.
More recently, a plant-based ‘squirty’ cream has become available; it’s made with soy and may be used in puddings, desserts, bakes, and drinks like ‘freakshakes.’
7. Cheat or mock meats
In place of processed foods like burgers, fish fingers, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, and sausages, there are several options for any fast food you might miss.
In addition to big brands, all major supermarkets have their brands, and new, smaller start-up enterprises are also contributing. For example, my family was recently impressed by Iceland’s No Bull vegan mince; we used it to make a rich vegan ragu and found it to be the most similar to beef mince we’ve tried. It took on a fantastic flavor, and the texture was perfect.
You may have heard of Beyond Meat, a plant-based burger with a bleeding style. Because of its popularity in the United States, it’s now available in Tesco and a few restaurants in the United Kingdom.
Then there’s the plant-based Impossible Burger, which is so close to the real thing that it’s practically impossible to tell the difference.
In 2018, Sainsbury’s introduced their ‘shroomdogs,’ a mushroom-based vegan sausage worth trying because of the texture. Of course, these are processed, but they’re also very convenient, quick to prepare, and high in protein.
8. Tempeh and tofu
Tofu, which is made from soybeans and is a complete protein, is a less-processed meat substitute. The firm variety is great for savory recipes, while the softer varieties can be used in tofu scrambles in place of eggs or added to puddings and bakes.
Tempeh is made with fermented soybeans and is firmer in texture. It works well as a protein alternative in Asian dishes, but it also works well as ‘bacon’ if thinly sliced and fried. After frying for a few seconds on each side, I spray it with a mixture of Marmite, hickory smoke, and maple syrup to give it a savory, smoky bacon flavor. Tofu and tempeh are both excellent flavor vehicles and may be used in a variety of dishes.
9. ‘Spreads’ and fats
There are various dairy-free butter brands available, ranging from supermarket brands to a variety of other large and small brands.
I’ve settled on Pure or Flora for making cakes and biscuits. However, I recently discovered Naturli, a small Danish brand with a delicious butter-like salty flavor, for spreading over toast. It’s currently exclusively available at Sainsbury’s. Naturli also makes a tasty mock mince and mock burger.
I love vegetable shortening (e.g., Stork, Trex, Cookeen) for pastries and crispier bakes since it is solid vegetable fat with a reduced moisture level, which is ideal for pastry. Experiment to find your favorites.
10. Whole egg substitutes
Powdered egg substitutes were once only available at specific health stores, but they are now widely available in supermarkets due to their recent popularity. Bakes and breakfast meals are two obvious examples.
I prefer to make and use a simple flax egg made by combining boiling water with flax meal for my baking recipes. Chia seeds can also be used as an egg substitute. I mentioned chickpea water (aquafaba) earlier, but that’s more of an egg-white alternative.
It’s hard to believe that vegans had few alternatives only a few years ago or were restricted to a small section of unusual grocery products. However, vegan trends are growing in popularity. The number of individuals trying out the lifestyle is increasing, so it’s worth exploring what’s available to find the best products for you.