Vegan Substitutes Guide

The hardest part about switching to a plant based vegan diet is figuring out what to use for vegan substitutes. Once you change your mindset and commit to applying a little extra energy until you get used to the different ingredients, you’ll find using vegan substitutes will become second nature.

Here is a vegan substitutes guide that’ll give you an idea of the options you have for common ingredient substitutions.

Vegan Substitutes for Milk

Vegan Substitutes for MilkMilk is the easiest thing to replace with vegan substitutes because we now have so many non-dairy milk alternatives, including soy (my least favorite), rice, almond, cashew, hazelnut, coconut, pea-based and hemp. You’ll find non-dairy milk stored in the milk cooler next to the dairy milk. You’ll also find boxes stored on the store shelves, but those don’t taste as good to drink, for some reason. They seem watery to me.

These non-dairy milks have a creamier texture like whole milk, but they lack all the cholesterol, growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that you get from cow’s milk. Non-dairy milk is also fortified with calcium so you should still get your calcium needs met.

Most brands offer both sweetened and unsweetened varieties. I encourage you to give the unsweetened a shot first because it tastes more like regular milk and you won’t get used to the copious amounts of added sugar, which is bad for you. I used to drink the sweetened non-dairy milk before I switched to a vegan diet, but now it’s far too sweet for me.

By going vegan and removing most of the added sugar from your diet, you’ll find that your tastebuds become more sensitive and you won’t like a lot of the things you previously couldn’t live without.

Vegan Substitutes for Butter

Earth Balance ButterButter is easy to substitute with vegan alternatives. Our favorite brand is Earth Balance. The Original flavor is best for your morning toast, but the other flavors are good, too. You can cook with these just like you do with real butter, and you can even melt it and pour it over your popcorn.

You can also substitute butter with oil or vegetable shortening in some recipes. Even though these vegan substitutes lack cholesterol, they still have a high fat content, so if you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to use them sparingly.

Vegan Substitutes for Cheese

Daiya Cheddar CheeseCheese is the only thing I still miss after switching to a vegan diet, but knowing how bad cheese is for my health and the horrible cruelty that goes into making it, I don’t miss it that much. In fact, I ate cheese on a veggie pizza a while back and it tasted awful. I’m guessing my tastes have change for that, as well.

There are several plant based vegan cheeses available, and they’re getting better all the time. Daiya makes a variety of cheese alternatives that are very good. We use their shredded cheddar and mozzarella on our homemade Veggie Pizzas and it tastes great. We especially like their vegan cheesecake found in the frozen dessert section, and their frozen veggie pizza is pretty good for a frozen pizza.

We’ve tried some of the cheese block alternatives, but the texture is a little hard to overcome. If you’re familiar with the texture of Velveeta, it’s like that. Hopefully, they’re still working to perfect cheese block substitutes so I can have my cheese and crackers once again.

Other Vegan Substitutes for Dairy

Coconut CreamIn addition to milk, nearly every other type of dairy product now has vegan substitutes, including yogurt, ice cream, sour cream and cream cheese. You’ll find most of these either in the vegan section, or next to their regular dairy counterparts.

You can use Coconut Cream for most of your cream substitutes. It’s thick and creamy just like real cream, but without the awful health consequences. And once it’s cooked up in a recipe, you can’t tell the difference.

You can make your own cream cheese without much effort, such as our Cashew Cream Cheese, which has a similar texture and flavor as regular cream cheese.

Vegan Substitutes for Eggs

Vegan Tofu ScrambleThere is (currently) no substitute for fried eggs, but you can replace eggs in just about every other recipe, including scrambled eggs.

I made my Tofu Scramble for my mom and for Amelia’s family who are vegan diet skeptical and they loved it. Crumbling the tofu and adding turmeric gives the Tofu Scramble a similar texture, color and flavor as real scrambled eggs (without the cholesterol and cruelty). I actually prefer this over real scrambled eggs, which are often undercooked or overcooked.

Indian or Himalayan Black Salt is another vegan trick ingredient to simulate an egg taste and smell. It contains sulfur and actually smells like hard boiled eggs. We ordered Himalayan Black Salt on Amazon and really like it. Just replace the 1/2 tsp of regular salt in your Tofu Scramble with 1/2 tsp of black salt to give it that egg aroma.

NOTE: Indian Black Salt is different than Hawaiian Black Salt or Black Lava Salt so you can’t interchange the two. We found Hawaiian Black Salt at Whole Foods, but we had to order the Himalayan Black Salt on Amazon.

You can also use chickpea flour mixed with water or vegetable broth to create a creamy batter that can be used to make scrambled eggs, omelettes or quiche.

In baking, eggs are used mostly as a binding agent, so it’s easy to replace them with any number of things that will also bind the ingredients together, such as flax eggs, applesauce, fruit puree or chickpea flour. Amelia replaced the eggs and oil in our Brownies recipe with black beans and they taste amazing!

Vegan Substitutes for Honey

AgaveThe reason why vegans don’t eat honey is because of the way the bees are treated. The queens are often relieved of their wings so they can’t fly away. It also takes countless trips for bees to make enough honey to feed their babies, so when we take their honey, they’re forced to make even more so their offspring won’t starve. Essentially, bees are forced into slave labor to protect their young. That’s certainly not very humane.

Agave nectar, maple syrup and date paste are good vegan substitutes for honey. They have a similar texture and they’re sweet, but they don’t taste like honey.

If you can find it, Bee Free Honey made from apples is supposed to taste like honey with a slight apple aftertaste. We haven’t found it yet in stores near us so we can’t attest to the taste.

Vegan Substitutes for Gelatin

Agar PowderDid you know that gelatin is an animal by-product made from boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and hooves. And we’ve been eating this disgusting stuff our whole lives! Gross!!!

Luckily, there are plenty of vegan substitutes for gelatin, such as agar powder, carrageen, vegetable gum and fruit pectin. Agar powder dissolves in water just like gelatin. Carrageen is better for getting the pudding texture. Xanthan gum, guar gum and locust bean gum are types of vegetable gum that you often see in ingredient lists on pre-packaged food. Pectin is often used to make jams and jellies.

If you’re highly dedicated to eliminating gelatin from your consumption, I have some bad news for you. Most of the lower-end supplements contain gelatin. I have no idea why since most supplements are dry and hard, but I’ve had a difficult time finding any that don’t have it. The animal ag industry is really good at slipping animal products into everything.

Animal-free Sugar

AgaveThe reason why vegans don’t eat honey is because of the way the bees are treated. The queens are often relieved of their wings so they can’t fly away. It also takes countless trips for bees to make enough honey to feed their babies, so when we take their honey, they’re forced to make even more so their offspring won’t starve. Essentially, bees are forced into slave labor to protect their young. That’s certainly not very humane.

Agave nectar, maple syrup and date paste are good vegan substitutes for honey. They have a similar texture and they’re sweet, but they don’t taste like honey.

If you can find it, Bee Free Honey made from apples is supposed to taste like honey with a slight apple aftertaste. We haven’t found it yet in stores near us so we can’t attest to the taste.

Vegan Substitutes for Meat

Beyond Beef Beefy CrumblesThere are vegan substitutes for virtually every kind of meat now. Tempeh and seitan are the original vegan substitutes for meat, but they take a bit of getting used to. They’re their own thing and they taste great in the right recipes, but there are more authentic alternatives.

We use Beefy Crumbles from Beyond Meat as a vegan substitute for hamburger. The flavor, color and texture are nearly identical. If you add it to spaghetti sauce or lasagna, you can’t tell the difference. We made our Overnight Lasagna for Amelia’s parents and for my parents, and they both said it was the best lasagna they’ve ever had.

There are a dozen or more types of vegan substitutes for hamburgers in the frozen food section that taste delicious. Some look and taste more like veggie burgers, while others taste like real hamburgers. The new Beyond Burgers from Beyond Meat even bleed beet “blood” and taste so much like a real hamburger that it’s almost too real!

We eat Gimme Lean Veggie Sausage from Lightlife as a great vegan substitute for sausage. It looks and smells just like sausage, with a slightly milder taste. If you slice it, fry it in a skillet and serve it to a vegan skeptic, they won’t know the difference.

Jackfruit is a new favorite of mine. It comes from a real fruit that’s been consumed in Asia for centuries (maybe longer). It has the texture of meat but not much flavor of its own. That means you can season it however you like. Some stores also sell prepackaged jackfruit from The Jackfruit Company that tastes delicious!

Check your frozen food section for a meatless “meat” section. There are all sorts of prepackaged options for fish, chicken, pork and more.

BE CAREFUL: Most of the MorningStar Farms products are labeled as “meatless” and they’re stored next to the other vegan substitutes for meat in the frozen food section, but they contain eggs and dairy so they’re vegetarian, not vegan.

Vegan Substitutes for Bacon

Liquid SmokeThere are vegan substitutes for bacon, but they taste nothing like bacon. They might be shaped like bacon, but that doesn’t make them bacon. This is one substitute that has a long way to go.

However, if you use an all natural Liquid Smoke in your recipes that call for bacon or bacon drippings, you’ll get the bacon taste without using bacon. That’s because bacon only tastes like bacon because it’s bathed in Liquid Smoke during the curing process.

Most Liquid Smoke products contain molasses, which is only vegan if it’s organic because non-organic molasses contains non-organic sugar which is most often processed with animal bone char. Look for an all natural Liquid Smoke that doesn’t contain molasses.

We can help with your switch to a vegan diet with our