Food: Vegan substitutions for everyday cooking

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Metro Creative Connection

If the wealth of vegan products now available in many mainstream supermarkets is any indication, more people are adopting vegan diets.

A vegan lifestyle is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, most notably in regard to diet. Adherents to veganism also avoid animal products in clothing and home as well.

The Vegan Society traces its origins to 1944. The main tenets of veganism have been “to seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man.” However, the one aspect most readily unifying is a plant-based diet that avoids all animal foods, including dairy, eggs and honey.

As anyone who has followed an alternative diet can attest, finding recipes that also match dietary restrictions can be challenging. But thanks to more widespread adoption of these diets, including veganism, it’s now easier than ever to adhere to diets that might once have been hard to follow.

Whether one is vegan or simply wants to include more plant-based items in their cooking, these substitutions can assist home chefs and bakers.

Egg substitutions

Substituting eggs can be challenging. Eggs interact with other ingredients in various ways, often helping to emulsify or bring together items into particular textures. About three to four tablespoons of applesauce can replace one egg in baked goods. Bananas also are great binding ingredients in baked items. Silken tofu can be used to create a vegan version of scrambled eggs, and this tofu can be used in many different recipes in place of eggs.

Milk substitutes

Scores of milk alternatives are now available on store shelves. From almond milk to coconut milk to soy milk or even hemp milk, consumers have many options. While they may not produce the exact same texture or flavor as cow’s milk, these products do quite well in various recipes.

Butter substitutes

Non-dairy vegan margarines will not contain any traces of lactose or whey in their formulas. Certain varieties may contain hydrogenated oils. Read labels to find suitable products.

Cheese substitutes

Cheese comes in various textures, from grated to firm to soft cheeses. While nothing in vegan cooking can completely mimic cheese, many new products come very close. Certain vegan cheeses can be made from nuts or dairy alternatives, such as almond milk and coconut. Similar fermenting processes give vegan cheese the bite associated with traditional cheeses. And other ingredients can help it to melt or crumble.

Meat substitutions

Replacing meat has never been easier. Various vegetables and fruits can mimic the texture of certain meats.  Such is the case with mushrooms, which have a naturally savory, meat-like flavor. Beans and tofu also serve well in place of meat in dishes. Seitan is made from wheat gluten instead of soybeans, which can be advantageous to anyone who also has a soy allergy and wants to go vegan.