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This post will serve as a love letter to all of the vegan alternatives that made my vegan lifestyle possible. Some will be actual brands, others will be just…you know…stuff.
First off, we’ll look into meat alternatives, because the ‘protein’ portion of the meal is the thing that most people worry about replacing.
Bear in mind though, after a while this becomes less of an issue. There’s protein in everything, as long as you’re eating enough calories from a variety of whole foods, you’ll be absolutely fine. Read this post if you’re worried. But don’t worry. Just make sure you’re eating enough.
After being vegan for a while, by the way, you’ll broaden your mind regarding what constitutes a meal.
If you’ve been poor/a student you’ll be used to this, and will be more than used to constructing meals from, say, frozen sweetcorn, a tin of lentils, and a questionable potato.
But don’t worry.
Ok, so tofu seems like the big one, but, cards on the table, I don’t really use it. Well, I put the silken stuff into smoothies sometimes (although chickpeas work too), but the proper stuff scares me a bit. It’s a bit too much like proper cooking for my tastes.
I am hoping to resolve this in 2019 though, so watch this space. If anyone has any recs for a good tofu press, plz hit up the comments.
Lentils are my fave vegan protein alternative to add to curries and chillis though. I like the tinned brown ones for chili (does it really not have 2 lls? Grammarly says it doesn’t) and dried red ones for curry.
Red lentils don’t require hours of cooking time, though soaking is always a good plan ***fancy pants sentence approaching*** in order to increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients. Here’s a blog post from a lady who can explain it a whole lot better than I can.
Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages are also a good shout. Only the original ones though. I’m not a fan AT ALL of the rosemary and red onion ones. Yack.
Quorn fish fingers and nuggets are incredible if you’re after a quick and dirty tea – paired with McCains oven chips (or Sainsbury’s hash browns) and beans/salad for optimal results.
I did a whole post on how to find the right dairy-free milk for you if you’re confused. I basically pick whichever one is on offer, because I’m not fussy and am lazy.
You may find that you prefer different milks for different things – I know of a lot of people have issues finding a good one to go in tea. I don’t really drink tea, but I’ve heard a lot of people raving about the Oatly barista milk and the Oatly Semi milk, so give those ones a go.
My fave is oat milk, but again, if protein is important to you, soya is a great choice.
It’s a good idea to incorporate at least some plant-based milk into your diet because it’s a great source of calcium. Read this post if you’re interested in finding ways to add essential nutrients into your vegan diet.
Again, this is a bit of trial and error.
If you prefer margarine to butter, you’re in luck. There are LOADS of naturally dairy-free margarine options on the market – Pure is a good one to go for if palm oil is a no-no for you.
Flora dairy-free do a dairy-free version, which apparently tastes great to some people (not me though – bleugh).
***EXCITED UPDATE*** Flora is set to go completely dairy free. Yessss.
I loved proper butter and hated all margarine, so I eschewed spread for about a year, replacing it with hummus instead. Incidentally, this is a great thing to do health-wise, because hummus is nutritionally dense and margarine, er, isn’t. Even if it contains healthy fats, it contains little else of any use.
It’s enough like proper butter that you can spread it on crusty bread and wolf it down with a glass of wine and experience a snack sent from the gods. It’s not exactly like proper butter (it tastes like Lurpak) but does a damn fine imitation. You can get in both spreadable and block forms – the block one is plastic free.
I’ve been less successful in finding a good cheese alternative, but as I detailed in this post about how to give up cheese, I’ve become more used to the taste of vegan cheese and can now stomach a few of them.
Although bear in mind that I’ve not had cheese in well over a year, so if you’re a newbie you may need to give it time. If cheese sandwiches were your staple lunch, here are a few sarnie alternatives.
I used to LOVE eggs, but cutting them out was super simple. The only problem I find is I get my hopes up when I see dairy-free desserts and am then disappointed to find that they have eggs in them.
I was going to say that I love baking (which is true), but it’s kind of a none-statement, because as much as I love it, I don’t actually do it. HOWEVER, the one cake I have made since becoming vegan didn’t contain eggs and it rose like a fucking champ.
Contrary to my previous statement that I don’t eat tofu, I actually have made tofu scramble on occasion (the secret is, as it always is, to add loads of smoked paprika and cumin) and it’s far superior to actual eggs because it doesn’t make the toast soggy.
I’ve got some egg replacer on the way for an upcoming post on vegan yorkshires, so I’m excited to try that. It’s hard to pick a good one because so many of the negative reviews are from people that tried to make poached/scrambled eggs from something that’s designed to be used as a raising agent.
Read why honey isn’t vegan here.
I just bought a huge thing of maple syrup (click here to see the one I get on Amazon)* and use it whenever honey is required in a recipe. Which isn’t often. It’s steered me right so far. If you miss the taste of honey, there are alternatives out there, but I can’t recommend any because I haven’t tried any. Maybe one day, when I’ve gotten over my aversion to it.
I have discussed this in a previous post, but I’m a full convert to Hellmann’s vegan mayo now. You can get it in Tesco.
It’s just like the normal Hellmann’s stuff.
I couldn’t be happier.
It’s in a glass jar too, so we can save the fishes. I like the shape of the jar too, so I keep them to store spices in.
Is that it?
If you can think of any products that you need an alternative to, please leave me a comment and I’ll try my best to think of an alternative.
The title of this post may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but finding a decent alternative to butter and mayo made it so much easier to become vegan.
Oh, and mixing mayo with Nando’s sauce is incredible. You heard it here first.