Vegan Alternatives to Your Favorite Foods

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Whether you just want to reduce the amount of meat you are eating, or would like to cut animal products out of your life completely, many have contemplated trying out the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle but you can’t fathom the thought of not enjoying… cheese?! eggs?! milk?! butter?! Well we’re here to share with you some vegan alternatives to your favorite foods that you can enjoy without the cruelty or guilt.

1) Cheese

Cheese is a very popular item whether it is paired with crackers at a party, added as a topping to a sandwich, or sprinkled on top of pasta. While we may enjoy the different flavors of cheese, the source of it all is not so appetizing.

Option 1

Nutritional yeast! Not to be mistaken for baking yeast, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast made from sugar cane or beet molasses (another form of sugar) and magically provides a good source of B vitamins including B12, protein, folic acid, and zinc. Usually sold in a powder or flakes, this is the healthiest alternative to sprinkling onto your pasta dish or creating any cheesy dish like mac and cheese.

Option 2

Need the real deal cheese? Daiya to the rescue! Daiya cheese offers an array of cheese alternatives and can be found in any health food store, giving you the option to make anything cheezy from pizza to cheesecake. Looking for a cheese platter to serve at your next holiday or birthday gathering? Companies like Miyoko’s Kitchen, Follow Your Heart, and Sanctuary at Soledad have an array of yummy selections that will keep you from going back to regular dairy based cheese.

2) Yogurt

I remember eating Yoplait when I didn’t know any better. Being Greek, I loved having Greek yogurt with honey, fruits, and granola.  Yet, now that I am on the no animal products diet, what’s one to do?

Option 1

Like Milk alternatives, there are yogurt alternatives such as soy and coconut milk. While they may not have the creamy thickness of Greek yogurt you can definitely create your own with just a few ingredients and refrigerating overnight.

Option 2

Finding a recipe to blend tofu with a few other ingredients and adding a soil based probiotic to the mix can give you the same benefits of regular yogurt. Sweeten as you like and add it to your breakfast bowl.

3) Butter

I know… warm bread and butter at a restaurant just sound delicious. However, if you have noticed many establishments now give you the option of olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar and salt or herbs. Even though margarine is worse than butter, let’s not go there, butter isn’t the best option especially if you’re using Land O’ Lakes or other generic brands.

Option 1

For cooking, try using coconut oil. Apart from the health benefits and its variety of uses, coconut oil is highly resistant to oxidation at high heats making it the best oil to cook with. I like to spread coconut oil onto Deland brown rice bread when toasting a slice on the stove top.

Option 2

If you’re craving for that buttery taste, you can always make your own vegan butter. It is fairly easy and quick to prepare and will last up 4 weeks, if it you can contain yourself from eating it. For a great recipe, check out the book The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner which includes just about everything you may need for your new lifestyle. There are also many vegan butter options on the market now like Earth Balance that are great butter alternatives.

4) Milk

Milk does the body good, nut milk that is! Cow milk, unless it’s raw and from a healthy cow that has been grazing grass, is not it’s all cut out to be. Cow milk is more harmful to your health than what is portrayed. Hence, why so many milk alternatives have surfaced in the market to give you healthier options.

Option 1

Nut’s can be used for so many things, including milk. While you may not like the first one you try, they are all different so try a few until you find the best option for you. A few choices on the shelves are cashew, hazelnut, almond, and macadamia. For milky smoothies I simply use water, ice, and a large handful of cashews for that creamy texture.

Option 2

My Mom drinks her coffee every morning and has chosen coconut milk as an alternative for her café con leche. In addition to coconut milk, there is oat, rice, soy, hemp, and flax milk. So there you have it, 10 alternatives to satisfy your milky cravings.

5) Eggs

You may think replacing eggs is a tough one, but it actually has many vegan alternatives as well. The hens will thank you and so will your health. The quality of eggs in your regular supermarket do not provide the same nutrients as we used to think and comes at a high cost to the hens life. So let’s take the load off the hen and look at a few options that can offer healthier benefits over today’s average egg.

Option 1

When baking, the options are endless. You can use ground flaxseed or chia seed, apple sauce or even a mashed banana. For the new year, I decided to make vegan pancakes and used banana and chia seed in replacement of milk and egg.  Boy was I surprised, even though I ate half the batter because it was that good, the pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup were delicious!

Option 2

While I haven’t yet found anything to make sunny side up eggs, if you’re looking for vegan scrambled ‘eggs’ or an omelet there is hope. Scrambled tofu will be your new best friend and can also be used for quiche or custard recipes. I recently tried out a chickpea recipe and added spinach, tomatoes and avocado once on the pan.

 

You see! It’s not so hard being vegan after all. Yes, it may need some getting use to and little bit of trial and error to get the right flavors. Just know, in the end you’ll be doing yourself, the animals, and the planet a huge favor by avoiding animal based products. So make a difference with each meal and go veg!

Julia Poliadis

Jules is a certified health coach and plant based foodie based in Miami, FL. With her international background and passion for overall wellness, she has traveled, researched and experimented with all types of diets, remedies and approaches towards healthy lifestyles.