A few years ago, my daughter, then 13-year-old, said she wanted to be a vegan. I immediately freaked out, as any uninformed non-vegan mother would. I mean how would she get her protein? Calcium? Iron? I am not voluble (word of the day – fluent) in the tricks of raising a vegan teen. So, I went on a fact-finding mission (aka: google search) and found that there are tons of easy substitutions for the animal based staples. So, after a quick trip to our local health food store, I had all the ingredients to make her some great, teen friendly, vegan meals. Too bad her veganism only lasted 48 hours. 🙂
But never fear, all that research wasn’t a total loss. That information was still rolling around in my brain all these years later. So, when I decided to try whole food, plant-based I knew I had lots of options that are locally available. I thought I’d share my list of common substitutions, just in case you’re considering changing teams.
Cow’s milk – OK, I’ve got some issues with milk. I don’t want to offend the milk lovers out there, but – isn’t milk from cows meant for baby cows? So why are we drinking it? Why don’t we drink human milk? Did you just make the eeew face? Sounds disgusting right? So why isn’t drinking cow’s milk just as disgusting? Who decided that cow’s milk was the best drink for humans? So did someone see a calf nursing and say “Hey I’m thirsty, give me a swig.”
Anyway, there are so many choices for milk substitutes now. Go to any grocery and you’ll find milk made from coconut, soy, rice, oats, hemp, hazelnut and almond. I prefer soy at the moment, as it has protein and is fortified with B12.
Protein – Ask any non-vegan and they’ll tell you the hardest thing to give up is meat. For me, it was the easiest. I won’t get into my reasons for giving up meat, let’s just say it grosses me out. I’ve lived without it for decades, and I haven’t experienced any health related issues. There are so many sources of vegan protein now, that are better tasting and healthier for us than meat. Besides beans and nuts, many companies are now making soy based meat replacements and even frozen dinners. Some of my favorites are Smart Dog Hot Dogs, Tex-Mex Jackfruit and Kashi Quinoa Bowls. Just give them a try!
Honey – Many people don’t really consider honey an animal based product. The bees would beg to differ. They make honey to feed themselves, not us. However, this one was tough for me, mostly because I just bought a HUGE bottle of honey and I don’t like to waste. So, in honor of all those hard-working bees, I’m finishing this bottle and then I’ll switch to one of these substitutes.
Cheese – OK, I have to say, I had a real love affair with cheese. Yes, I know it’s made from cow’s milk (eeew!) but it’s so yummy on my nachos! But, I’ve been cheese free for 15 days now, and I really don’t miss that creamy yumminess! Amazingly, using cashews and nutritional yeast makes for a delicious alternative! Also Daiya makes some delicious non-dairy cheeses.
Butter – I haven’t tried these butter alternatives yet, as I’m not really a butter person.
Eggs – If you need to do some baking, the Ener-G Egg Replacement is perfect. I haven’t used it yet, but I have it at the ready. I did use Ground Flax Seed in my pizza crust recipe and it was perfect.
Cream and Creamer – I am a coffee drinker and I like mine blonde & sweet (just like my hubs)! So I had to rethink my recipe and I’ve finally landed on almond milk steamed and frothy with maple syrup. That being said, there are many options available, but I’ve yet to try them.
Ice Cream – I have never really been an ice cream person, but when I want a little something sweet, the vegan options are delicious. I also come up with a recipe of my own!
Yogurt – I use to eat a lot of yogurt. At least once a day I’d have a big bowl of greek yogurt loaded with fruits and granola. To be honest, I haven’t tried soy yogurt yet, but it’s nice to know I have some options.
Word of the Day – voluble – def: fluent