The best vegan alternatives & substitutes
Unleash your cooking creativity with plant-based meals.
Unleash your cooking creativity with plant-based meals
Whether you’re making the change to fully vegan or introducing more meat-free meals into your weekly rotation, one of the biggest challenges can be finding useful alternatives to meat, eggs and dairy products. The great news is that there are plenty of delicious and healthy vegan ingredients you can use to create mouthwatering dishes that’ll please even the pickiest eaters at the table.
Why not change up your curry game with a creamy Coconut Sweet Potato Dhal? Or pack in some serious flavour with a Spiced Chickpea Curry. Besides finding the perfect alternatives, don’t forget about your cooking creativity as you celebrate seasonal flavours and champion vegan-friendly ingredients.
As an important part of our diet, you might be caught thinking of chicken, beef, eggs, yoghurt, cheese and fish when protein comes to mind. However, that’s only one selection. There’s a greater network of protein-rich alternatives to cook with.
Vegan meat alternative
A classic alternative is firm or silken tofu, a product made from soybeans. Crisp it up for stir-frys, crumble it for vegan tacos, even add it into dips and desserts for an unbeatable creamy texture.
Another option is Tempeh, again made from soybeans. Its meaty texture is a great option for substituting minced beef.
Or, if you’re looking for something that satiates your pulled pork cravings, you can’t go wrong with jackfruit. Season generously, top with crispy coleslaw and serve in a pillowy bun.
Vegan egg alternative
While you’re making unforgettable curries, crispy chickpeas to scatter over salads or spicy hummus perfect for dipping, don’t throw away the liquid they come in. This aquafaba is a great stand-in for egg whites, so you can still enjoy meringues, fluffy cakes, and foamy cocktails.
If you’re looking for a whole substitute, mixing chia or flax seeds with a little bit of water is perfect for baking. And why not try silken tofu scrambled eggs for your toast in the morning?
Vegan chicken alternative
From wings to nuggets, there are a couple of ways to go about substituting chicken. For a healthy, more veggie-based alternative you can use cauliflower for marinating, battering, breading, frying and for simmering in curries.
For a chewier texture, look for seitan – a product made from wheat gluten. This is an excellent meat substitute if you want to snack on chicken nuggets or a good old-fashioned chicken burger.
Beans and legumes
Meat alternatives aside, sometimes you can’t beat the classics. Beans and legumes of all varieties, like red kidney, black beans and chickpeas are essential additions to any diet, whether you’re adding them into a chili con carne, burritos, or even burgers. In fact, one of the very best protein alternatives you can pack into your diet are lentils. Drop these into soups, stews, curries and salads for a tasty protein addition.
As a firm staple in many recipes, dairy is a great source of animal-based proteins and fats. Thankfully, you won’t have much issue finding a plant-based alternative that suits your cooking and nutritional needs.
Vegan milk alternatives
You’ll find a whole host of nut milks and alternative dairy milks on the shelves, from almond, cashew and coconut, to soy, oat and Rice Mlk. Different types and different brands can tackle different uses depending on what you need them to do. Plus, for drinks and pouring over cereal, it’s down to your personal taste, whether you’re using almond milk in your baking or oat milk in your coffee.
Vegan butter alternatives
Like plant-based milk, there are plenty of options for butter alternatives on the shelves, from coconut oil and nut butters, to certified vegan butters and margarine. Just take a look at the packet and test different products for their taste and spreadability.
Vegan cheese alternatives
Made from a mix of ingredients, vegan cheeses are also something you’ll want to test out for your personal preferences. With some excellent substitutes available on the market, keep an eye out for things like flavour, texture and how (or if) it melts. And don’t forget about nutritional yeast if you’re just looking for a punchy, cheesy flavour.
Vegan cream alternatives
From silken tofu to coconut cream, there are lots of clever cream substitutions you can use for stews, curries, custards and puddings. You don’t just have to grab the vegan-approved alternatives off the shelf either – it’s simple to make an alternative with cupboard ingredients like cornstarch, blended cashews, white beans, and even rice.
Other helpful alternatives
This list could go on and on with how many fantastic ingredients you can use in vegan cooking, but here are a couple of final substitutes to help you boost your sweets and baking.
Vegan honey alternatives
Ultimately deemed ‘non-vegan’, if you’re looking to avoid honey in your diet you can substitute it with maple syrup, date syrup and agave nectar. These all have a number of uses, from desserts to simply sweetening your tea.
Vegan gelatine alternatives
You don’t have to say goodbye to homemade jelly, springy desserts and melty mousse pots if you’re opting for a vegan diet. Ingredients like pectin, agar agar and xanthan gum are great substitutions and cupboard staples to have tucked away. Plus, you should be able to find a vegan gel alternative in the baking section of most supermarkets.
Celebrating taste and variety
Just because you’re switching to a vegan diet or adding some vegan-friendly meals into the mix doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste or versatility. By switching things up and using vegan ingredients, creating tasty meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner is just another culinary adventure to be had.
We’ve only covered a handful of helpful substitutes, but there’s plenty more to explore. Whether you’re already diving into the world of vegan cooking or only just starting out, open up a world of exciting flavours and textures, get creative in the kitchen, and enjoy the endless possibilities of plant-based cooking.