Contrary to what many people think, drawing from my own experience, being a vegan is in no way restrictive. Plus, it’s a choice that enables us to be kinder to animals and also brings some awesome health benefits and a heightened passion for food.
During my nine years as a vegan, through my travels and culinary retreats, I’ve discovered some great ingredients that can bring fantastic flavor to dishes and aid even the biggest dairy/meat fan transition to a plant-based diet. Here are my six delicious vegan substitutes for eggs, meat, and dairy that my kitchen is never without:
1. Nutritional Yeast
Image source: Vegan Excess
There are few things in this world that I love more nutritional yeast. It’s got this cheesy, nutty taste that brings life to whichever dish you add it in. Nutritional yeast is actually a deactivated yeast, which means that it will not ferment. And it is the star ingredient in my ‘cheese’ sauce that is quite simple to make.
All you need is 2 boiled medium sized potatoes and carrots and blend them well with some unflavored, and unsweetened soymilk. Once it’s well mixed, add salt, pepper, and 4-5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. The result is truly outstanding; I mean check out my cheesy nachos (pictured above)! I also often use it as a topping on popcorn and pretty much in every dish that needs a bit of that yummy cheesiness.
2. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Image source: Wikipedia.org
Textured vegetable protein, also known as soy chunks or soy meat, is an awesome vegan meat substitute. You’d be interested to know that it actually has far more protein than meat does! (1 ounce of TVP has around 14 grams of protein, while 1 ounce of beef only has 9) and – more importantly, it’s flavorful!
It can be used to make pretty much anything, from meatballs to steaks and stews. My favorite way of eating TVP is with tomato sauce – I cook the soy chunks separately while I make the sauce. I use one can of tomatoes for every 100 grams of soy chunks. I sauté an onion and two cloves of garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Then, I add the canned tomatoes, dry basil, salt and pepper and maybe a dash of water and I simmer the whole thing for 5 minutes. Lastly, I add the cooked and drained soy chunks and simmer for another 10 minutes. It is heaven on Earth! The only downside of TVP is that it will give you gas and it will make you bloated. I guess it’s just the price you have to pay for deliciousness.
Image source: Wikipedia.org
Tempeh is my life! This Indonesian cuisine soy-based staple is so versatile yet tasty! My favorite thing in the whole, wide world is tempeh bacon. I would cut up thin slivers of tempeh and fry them in a pan with a tiny bit of olive oil.
When tempeh is done and has a nice crisp outside to it, I add the flavoring: salt, pepper, smoky paprika and soy sauce. From this moment on, everything will be a sizzling mess, because the tempeh has absorbed all the oil and the soy sauce gets burned very easily. Which is why you only need to turn the slivers around a few times, for around 15-20 seconds and you’re done. Trust me, my vegan bacon is unparalleled!
4. Indian Black Salt
Image source: Wikipedia.org
Back when I was eating meat and dairy, the only thing in the non-vegan repertoire that I absolutely adored were eggs. I could eat eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So, what is my vegan egg replacement of choice ? When it comes to the flavoring, nothing beats Indian black salt or kala namak. It has a nice, sulfur aroma, which makes it very similar in smell to eggs. When using black salt, I avoid adding normal salt, because it is quite salty in itself. I use it in potato salads, popcorn, stir fries, and spreads. When it comes to baking, I’ve successfully used flax meal as an egg replacement. You can pick up kala namak in health stores, or while on a well-deserved culinary vacation in India.
5. Nut Milk
I know, I know, nut milk have been around since forever, and everybody knows them! But what I’m proposing is to make your own! Soymilk is, I would say, the hardest to make, just because it requires heat treatment, but when it comes to almond or oat milk, all you need to do is blend the nuts with some water, and then strain. It’s always a good idea to prepare your own milk because the store-bought ones have loads of sugar and other ingredients that you can definitely do without.
If making your own seems to take too much, I highly recommend a milk maker that can be used to make any type of nut milk, from heat treated soy milk to cold blended almond milk. Once you get the hang of making your own milk, you can even try to step it up a notch and make your own yogurt with the help of vegan yogurt starters.
6. Kelp Powder
Kelp powder is a relatively new addition to my kitchen. I’ve been meaning to get it but admittedly, I kept putting it off. I finally got it last month and I have to say I am hooked! Back when I was eating meat, fish wasn’t really my favorite thing, but ever since becoming a vegan, I’ve been obsessed with its unique flavors. I adore wakame in all shapes and forms and kelp powder plays into my sea-flavoring love. It’s got a salty, umami, sea taste that can spruce up even the most boring soups or salads. I also love it on popcorn and on spreads. (I know I’ve mentioned popcorn all over this post, but what can I say? I adore popcorn!)
I really hope this article has helped you discover some delicious vegan substitutes, simply because vegan food should never be boring!
Ready to discover some more awesome vegan ingredients? Book yourself a spot on a vegan retreat and prepare your senses to be wowed!