Choosing veganism is a huge step for both you and those around you. It involves removing all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs and any other animal by-products, from your diet. If you’re still wavering on whether it’s the right fit for you, consider experimenting with these eight simple swaps to see if life as a vegan is just the change you’re looking for.
Tofu is a product of soy beans and is probably the most well-known meat alternative there is. It is a great replacement for meat, as it is high in protein and takes on the flavour of whatever sauce it is incorporated into, so it can be substituted into virtually any dish. It also comes in a variety of flavours and textures, making it ideal to cook with. A soft block of tofu can be a great substitute for yogurt when blended into smoothies, while the firmer variety is more suitable for stir-frys and wraps.
Seitan is a lesser-known meat alternative but has an even more meatlike consistency than tofu. It is made from wheat and can easily be substituted into many of your favourite dishes.
Legumes, nuts and seeds
It is important as you start your first explorations into veganism that you get all the nutrients you did as a meat eater. This means making sure you are getting protein from other sources. Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils can easily be incorporated into wraps and salads, while nuts and seeds can add incredible flavour and crunch when worked into baked goods or sprinkled onto meals.
Because refined sugar goes through a lot of processing that isn’t really in keeping with a healthy vegan lifestyle, many turn to natural alternatives for sweetening. Because honey is created by living creatures — bees — it cannot be used, and many vegans therefore turn to agave nectar. It has the same consistency as honey but comes from a plant, so it is perfect in beverages or for cooking.
Almond milk, soy milk or rice milk
Any kind of plant- or nut-based milk is a great substitute for cow’s milk. They can easily be used in your morning coffee or tea or to replace milk or cream in any baking or cooking.
Applesauce or flax seeds
Applesauce is an easy alternative in recipes that call for eggs. In most cases, you can simply swap in 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg that is required. Or to ensure you don’t miss out on your omega-3 fatty acids, combine 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons water and let chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. This will substitute for one egg in your favourite baking recipes.
Earth Balance spread
Butter comes from cows and is therefore obviously not vegan-friendly. It is less well known, however, that many margarines also cannot be used, as they tend to contain gelatin, which comes from the skin and bones of animals. Earth Balance Buttery Spreads are made primarily of oils and soy, so they are 100 percent animal product free. They can be spread on all your favourite baked goods and used in cooking just as you would butter or margarine.
For many people, mayonnaise is one staple they just aren’t sure they can give up. Fortunately there is egg-free Vegenaise for all your favourite sandwiches and dips.