Psst! Listen up: these plant-based cooking substitutions will come in handy whether you're "doing the vegan thing" right now or not. You won't even miss the meat or dairy products and you'll find that by eliminating animal products altogether, you can easily transform everyday staple dishes into healthier versions in the process (with no extra effort or cost). In fact, plant-based substitutions will likely save you money in the long run, as meat and dairy are traditionally luxury goods not necessarily meant to be consumed on a daily basis (yeah, I've seen What the Health). Plus, converting your diet to a vegan one is the single best and simplest way to lessen your environmental impact.
10 Vegan Cooking Substitutions to Remember
Eliminate meat by instead using tofu (firm or extra firm), fiber-rich jackfruit, mushrooms of all varieties, which have a naturally "meaty" texture, and beans/legumes as heart-healthy main dishes. If you're one who suffers from painful gas typically associated with eating legumes, soak dried beans for up to three days with a strip of kombu, which contains the enzyme needed to break down oligosaccharides.
Plant-based milk options are now easily available and fairly inexpensive. Opt for soy milk, oat milk, rice milk, and nut milks of all sorts instead of dairy for baking and cooking. Try homemade almond milk and you might never want store bought again.
Nutritional yeast is a go-to vegan substitute for its cheesy flavor (plus essential vitamin B12), and soaked nuts, like cashews, can also recreate a cheese curd-like texture. Or, when your recipe calls for ricotta or a more dense and creamy cheese texture, consider replacing it with silken tofu.
Believe it or not, eggs can be replaced in baking and other recipes with either applesauce, mashed bananas, flax seeds, or 1-tablespoon chia seeds per egg. Plus, there are a ton of ready-to-use egg replacer products that have been tested against one another.
Replacing butter with full-fat oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, soy margarine, or coconut oil can be an easy way to cut down on cholesterol and up your healthy fat intake.
Depending on your vegan stance, honey can go either way on the acceptability scale. If you're going without, use agave nectar, maple or brown rice syrup instead.
The great news about going vegan in 2018 is the abundance of plant-based products available at your local grocer. Soy and coconut yogurt are becoming more available to buy and are even easier to make yourself, believe it or not, with only two ingredients.
Here's where your homemade yogurt will come in handy yet again–nondairy yogurt can also be used for savory dishes where you would normally need a dollop of sour cream. Here's a recipe that uses tofu to achieve that thick, creamy texture. There's really no going without, even when you go fully plant-based.
You might be relieved to know that going vegan comes with plenty of delicious dessert options and alternatives. Fruit sorbet of all varieties is already totally vegan, so there's no guilt when going for seconds (or thirds...).