Just because you’re vegan now, doesn’t mean your favourite recipes can’t come along for the ride.
“What will I even eat?” is one of the questions those who are thinking of adopting a plant-based diet often ask. There’s a common misconception about what it means to eat meals that are entirely plant-based, like how it means sad salads of wilted lettuce and tomatoes for every meal.
But the hashtag #whatveganseat on Instagram quickly debunks this myth. Plant-based diets can be satisfying, nourishing, and most of all, as comforting as your favourite meals that feature animal products.
Here are some easy ways to veganize your favourite recipes.
Does it call for eggs? Try these instead.
There are a number of satisfying substitutions for eggs. From scrambled eggs (which can be made from tofu) to cakes (which can be baked with applesauce or flaxseeds), eggs can easily be replaced in any recipe.
Before deciding on which egg alternative to use, we would suggest considering what purpose the egg serves in the recipe. Is it for richness? Is the egg present as a binder? Is the egg simply used for taste? Figuring out why the egg is in the recipe in the first place will help you choose which egg substitute to use.
Tofu is great for substituting eggs when they’re the star of the show: omelettes, scrambles, scrambles can all be made with tofu. When you’re making something for frying, you may need an egg substitute for dredging and breading; vegan mayo is a great alternative. For binding, which is used in both baking and cooking to keep something together, ground flax or chia in water, mashed bananas, applesauce work well for the former, and rolled oats, bread crumbs, flour, or mashed potatoes work well for the latter.
Does it call for milk or butter? Try these instead.
In almost all recipes, milk can be substituted with (unsweetened) plant-based milks, such as coconut, rice, soy, almond, oat, and cashew. Oftentimes, a 1:1 substitution will work perfectly—but keep in mind how you’re using the milk.
For example, we use soy almost exclusively when it comes to substituting dairy in baking as well as recipes that call for mayo due to the fact that it has a consistency and nutritional profile that are similar to dairy milk. Almond and rice milk generally has a thinner consistency and may not be a suitable substitution, depending on your recipe. If your recipe calls for a heavier dairy, such as whipping cream, full-fat canned coconut milk is a great alternative. To make one cup of vegan buttermilk, add one tablespoon of vinegar to a measuring cup and fill it with non-dairy milk to one cup.
Many companies now carry vegan butter that can be used in recipes that call for butter. “Baking sticks” are also available as an alternative to butter for baking recipes. Coconut butter may be used as well.
Does it call for meat? Try these instead.
While it may seem that the texture of meat could never be replicated, many plant-based recipes have proven that this can easily be done. Chicken, pork, and beef can be replaced with tofu, seitan, tempeh, TVP, mushrooms, or lentils.
Some more ingenious substitutions we’ve seen include using jackfruit, the canned variety of which will take on any flavour you add, in place of pork for pulled pork, and this meatless taco filling by Minimalist Baker.
Does it call for seafood? Try these instead.
Textures in seafood can often be replicated with tempeh thanks to its flaky texture, making it similar to fish. Tofu, tomato, and carrots can also be used in place of seafood, depending on the application. From “tuna” melts to carrot lox and bagels, plant-based foods make for surprisingly convincing seafood alternatives.
And don’t forget: it’s all in the seasoning! To achieve that unique taste of the ocean, we add seaweed to our Chickpea Tuna Smash.
Does it call for a cheese sauce? Try these instead.
Cheese sauces are rich, luxurious, and indulgent, and there’s nothing more comforting than a big pot of macaroni and cheese. Though you may be off dairy, that doesn’t mean you can’t make an equally delicious cheese sauce.
Replacing cheddar with nutritional yeast and other flavourings, you can make a roux (with vegan butter) in the same way you would with a dairy cheese sauce. Or, another method uses soaked cashews that are blended with vegetable broth and nutritional yeast to yield a silky sauce to coat your macaroni.
Some additional things to consider when it comes to veganizing your favourite recipes are the texture and flavour of the ingredients you’re replacing and how to prepare your substitutions properly.
For example, if you’re wanting to make crispy “chicken” tenders with tofu, you will want to press as much water out of the tofu as possible so that you don’t end up with spongy “chicken” tenders. When it comes to flavour, be sure to thoroughly season your food so that you have a delectable dish on your hands, and not something that’s bland and memorable for all the wrong reasons! Just like how under-seasoned meat is boring and bland, under-seasoned vegetables are equally unexciting. Focus on how you season your meat alternatives and what type of dish you’re trying to replicate—like rosemary and thyme for “chicken”—and you’ll be sure to come up with a delectable veganized dish.
What are some of your favourite recipes that you’ve veganized? Let us know in the comments!