Want to go vegan, but afraid you’ll miss out on all your favorite foods? Veganism takes discipline, vigilance, and plenty of self-denial, but the benefits to your health are very enticing. And while it is true that you’ll miss out on things like steak, bacon, cheese and eggs, fortunately there are delicious animal free substitutes that can replace at least some of the foods you’ll miss out on. Give this list of the six simplest, most delicious, and effortless vegan alternatives to everyday foods a try the next time you hit the grocery store.
Best Meat Substitute: Tempeh
Tempeh is a soy-based product like tofu that originated in Indonesia. It is made in a way like tofu, but tempeh uses the whole soybean unlike tofu. Doing this gives tempeh a better nutritional content than either meat or tofu, having more fiber and vitamins than meat and tofu, and more protein than tofu. Tempeh has a firm texture and earthy flavor, and is currently used as a meat substitute all over the world. It can be chopped, diced, fried, baked, marinated or grilled. Much like tofu, it absorbs other flavors well. In summary, tempeh is a simple and delicious way to replace any meat in your diet and go vegan.
Best Cheese Substitute: Nutritional Yeast
Cheese is definitely one of the things that people who go vegan miss the most. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that is used as a cheese substitute by many vegans. You can find it at most natural and health food stores, in the form of flakes or a yellow powder. Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor, and is rich in B vitamins. It makes a great topping for potatoes, popcorn, scrambled tofu, broccoli, or pasta. Plus, its low in carbohydrates, fat, and sodium
Best Dairy Substitute: Almond Milk
Almond milk has been popular for a while among vegans and the lactose intolerant alike, and is considered superior to milk by some, since it is cholesterol free. It is, however, lower in protein and vitamin D than cow’s milk. You can find it in the dairy aisle in any supermarket, and you can even buy almond milk ice cream! It’s great in cereal, and can be used in the place of milk in many recipes successfully. You can also make your own almond milk at home. All you need are almonds, a blender, and water.
Best Egg Substitute: Applesauce
Applesauce is a tasty and inexpensive way to go vegan. We are all very familiar with applesauce, but what you may not know is that applesauce is frequently used as an egg substitute in vegan cooking. Many baked vegan concoctions use applesauce as a binder in the place of eggs. It also adds a natural sweetness that requires less added sugar. No eggs also mean that the food will stay edible longer or won’t require refrigeration in most cases.
Best Butter/Shortening Substitute: Coconut Oil
The coconut oil craze is sweeping the nation, so you might as well join in. People use it for cooking, as a moisturizer, even to brush their teeth! Be aware that coconut oil is high in saturated fat and calories. However, this may not be a concern if you decide to go vegan, since you’ll be eating so many other healthy foods. Coconut oil is great for frying, or as a butter, oil or shortening substitute in many vegan recipes, and can be found in most major food retailers with the other cooking oils.
Best Honey Substitute: Agave
Agave is a natural sweetener that is made from the nectar of the agave plant. It is one and a half times sweeter than sugar, so you end up using less of it overall. It has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar or corn syrup, so many diabetics use agave as well. The fact that it is plant derived makes it a popular alternative to honey among those who want to eliminate animal products from their diets. Agave is great in tea, cornbread recipes, on pancakes or French toast, or anything else you might use honey in.