One of the trickiest aspects of vegan (plant-based) cooking is finding substitutes for animal products and this applies to both the novice vegan cook and someone who has been doing it for a while. The good news is that it can be fun (and quite rewarding) to over-turn those long-held traditions when it comes to cooking and baking using cruelty free products and getting results that are just as good tasting and looking and usually healthier than their animal-saturated versions. Here’s a list of some common vegan substitutes that have worked well for me – listed by groups of the animal ingredients they replace:
*1 EGG (To replace more than one, just multiply):
- 1 Tbsp. of ground flax meal + 3 Tbsp. of water. Very good for baked breads, cakes, cookies and muffins.
- 1/4 cup tofu. Best to blend the tofu so it is smooth before using it, otherwise you might not be able to break up all the lumps. Tofu works especially well in quiches, pancakes and pastas. With a little turmeric added it is also a great replacement for scrambled egg dishes.
- 1/2 banana. Only use banana when you want the recipe to be banana-flavored, as in banana cake.
- 1/4 cup applesauce. Applesauce also makes a baked good really moist, allowing you to cut down on fat in the recipe. It works great in carrot cake.
- Commercial powder substitutes like EnerG Egg Replacer Read the package instructions for correct measurements.
* MILK (With all the alternatives available, there is really no excuse to use dairy milk):
- Rice Milk
- Almond Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Hazelnut Milk
- Cashew Milk
*YOGURT (Yogurt substitutes work great in Indian foods like call for yogurt):
- 1 cup silken tofu blended with 2 tbsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp salt = 1 cup yogurt, (use more or less lemon juice if you don’t want the yogurt to be too acidic.)
- Coconut milk yogurt, Almond milk yogurt and Soy milk yogurt are becoming popular commercial yogurts. Commercial soy yogurts are also available in the United States as well as other parts of the world.) Look in the regular refrigerator aisle alongside regular yogurt.
*1 CUP BUTTERMILK (Buttermilk substitutes can be used in any recipe that calls for it, including cupcakes, pancakes and “southern-style” biscuits):
- 1 cup soymilk or almond milk + 1 tsp vinegar (you can use any vinegar on hand, but the best is apple cider. Mix and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.)
*1 TBSP. BUTTER (Butter substitutes, like milk and yogurt substitutes, replace the bad cholesterol with healthy fats that are better for you. But be cautioned, vegan fats also contain the same number of calories as animal fats, so don’t overdo the use of fats of any kind.):
- 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine or “butter” (I find Earth Balance is the best)
- 1 Tbsp. flavorless oil
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (Crisco is a substitute for lard, and it's vegan; but it is basically 100% transfat).
*1 TBSP. CHEESE:
- 1 Tbsp. nutritional (good tasting) yeast (aka “nooch” – it’s packed with nutrition, particularly B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein)
- 1 tsp. miso. (Use instead of salt and in place of cheese in pestos and soups. You can add it to quiches, sauces, etc. Always add miso toward the end of cooking, since heating miso can kill its wonderful enzymes).
*1 TBSP CREAM:
- 1 Tbsp. cashew cream (blend cashews with enough water to keep blender blades running)
- 1 Tbsp. almond cream (blend blanched almonds with enough water to keep blades running)
*MISC. DAIRY PRODUCTS:
- There are commercial brands of vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream (like Tofutti) that taste and act similar to the originals.
*1 TBSP. GELATIN:
- 1 Tbsp. agar agar flakes or powder.
*1 TBSP. HONEY:
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. agave nectar (Delicious in almost any baked good. Agave nectar also has a low glycemic index and makes a healthy sugar substitute)
Stay tuned…Coming soon “Stocking Your Vegan Kitchen (A Basic List)”
Rae Indigo is ERYT 500