20 EASY SWAPS TO VEGANIZE YOUR FOOD
Let’s face it: veganism is on the rise. As more studies reveal more details about the health benefits of focusing on plant-based foods, many are panning over to a plant-focused diet.
One of the main reasons why people often say they are deterred from a vegan diet is the lack of alternatives – that’s where we come in. Whether you are considering going full-on vegan, or you just want to incorporate more plant-based food in your diet, or even if you have a family member or friend who is vegan and you want to cater to their choices, here is a list of alternative ingredients you can use to “veganize” almost any dish.
With so many different non-dairy milks out there, this is perhaps the easiest ingredient to swap out. There are seemingly countless options out there today, so you’re bound to find something that best suits your taste. Almond milk is the most versatile choice of them all, while soy milk is the closest (in terms of taste and texture) to dairy milk. You can also find vegan dairy products in supermarkets nowadays, such as vegan yogurt and ice cream.
Similarly to milk, cream has many plant-based alternatives. If you’re used to adding creamer to your coffee, than coconut milk is your best friend, while oat milk is the best when it comes to frothing, and it makes for the best lattes. To substitute whipped cream, coconut cream works wonders. You can also use aqua faba (AKA the water from a can of beans or – preferably – chickpeas), to make a whipped cream for more delicate recipes like chocolate mousse.
Whether you agree with veganism or not, we can all agree that although butter makes everything taste better, we’re better off omitting it altogether from the fridge. The easiest swap for butter is coconut oil (if you don’t like the taste of coconut, you can used refined coconut oil) or vegetable margarine. If you’re making a dessert with batter such as cake or brownies, take the extra healthy step and use a mashed ripe avocado. The creaminess of the avocado will add a lot of moisture to your cake, and the fat is healthier – a win-win, if you ask us. Don’t worry, you won’t be able to taste the avocado.
Eggs are one of the trickier ingredients to swap. Given their versatility, their vegan alternative varies according to the different key role they play in the recipe.
Let’s break it down:
- If you’re using eggs as a binding agent, such as in cake batters and burger patties, use a flax egg or chia egg. To make those, mix together 1 part ground flaxseeds or chia seeds with 2 parts or 3 parts (respectively) water, leave for 15 minutes, and use to substitute 1 egg. You can also use a mashed banana or ¼ cup of applesauce for desserts.
- To substitute whipped egg whites used to make recipes such as meringues, use aqua faba. This magical liquid contains proteins, same as the egg whites, so it whips up just as well.
- The hardest way to substitute eggs is when they are used to make custards and pastry creams. For these products, it’s a case by case situation, and different techniques can be used. One such technique is increasing your dosage of starch and/or add some flour to your cream, but this can be tricky as you need to make sure you cook away the starchy taste all while making sure your custard doesn’t turn into a dough.
- There’s no question about it: mayonnaise is one of the best condiments man has created. In case you didn’t know, there 2 main ingredients used in mayo: oil, and egg yolks. Similarly to butter, it is safe to assume that lowering the amount of unhealthy fat we consume serves us all better. To substitute mayo, you can buy the eggless kind (AKA “Vegannaise”), or you can make your own by swapping the eggs for – you guessed it – aqua faba!
- If you’re the kind of person that enjoys scrambled eggs in the morning, try a tofu scramble. When cooked properly, tofu can have the exact same texture as eggs, not to mention it will make you feel full for longer. Tip: make sure a medium to firm block of tofu, anything softer will turn to into mush, and anything firmer will be too dry.
- The closest thing to an egg you can use is store-bought egg replacers. It has the exact color and consistency of an egg, and many supermarkets carry it nowadays. If you’re an omelet kind of person, this is the best swap you find.
Meat remains the hardest ingredient to veganize. That being said, supermarkets are carrying more alternatives every day. Easily-found substitutes include: Beans, chickpeas, lentils and other grains, quinoa, tofu. You can also find mock meats, such as veggie sausages, cold cuts and bacon, in supermarkets nowadays. Another product you should definitely look out for is TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein). These flakes, made mainly of bean flour, come in different shapes, sizes and colors, mimic different types of minced meats, and they work best in recipes that require them such as burger patties. Unfortunately, steaks and large cuts of meat remain a challenge to replace.