I just sent in my latest post to my friend Nia’s Elements of Life site. Since it’s not quite time to be focusing on my garden yet, though I’m anxiously awaiting the moment I can be outside working the soil, I wrote about being vegan. Here’s some of the information I shared including substitutes I’ve found to replace animal products in my diet:

The biggest argument/concern I hear from others about going vegan is their concern about getting enough protein. I can honestly say there are many, many ways to get protein from the plant world. Almost all foods except for alcohol, sugar, and fats provide some protein. Vegetarian sources include: lentils, chickpeas, tofu, peas, peanut butter, soy milk, almonds, spinach, rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli, kale, etc.

There are also many healthy substitutes available to replace a variety of the animal products in your diet. Here’s a partial list to try:

Milk Substitutes:

  • almond milk
  • coconut milk
  • hazelnut milk
  • rice milk
  • soy milk

Buttermilk can be replaced with soured soy or rice milk. For each Cup of buttermilk, use 1 cup soymilk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Yogurt Substitutes:

Applesauce may be substituted for yogurt although substituting the entire amount may change the texture of the baked good. Additionally, you may want to decrease the amount of sweetener in the recipe.

You can make your own “soy yogurt” by pureeing medium firm silken tofu and using it cup-for-cup for dairy yogurt.

There are also many store-bought soy yogurts include Cremso, Nancy’s Organic Cultured Soy Yogurt, Trader Joe’s Soy Yogurt, Silk Cultured Soy Yogurt, WholeSoy Creamy Cultured Soy Yogurt, and Wildwood Probiotic SOYogurt.

Sour Cream Alternatives:

Vegan Sour Cream Alternative by Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Moonomor Soy Sour Cream, and Better Than Sour Cream Sour Supreme.

Egg Replacers:

As a binder, substitute for each egg:

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) soft tofu blended with the liquid ingredients of the recipe, or
  • 1 small banana, mashed, or
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, or
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot starch, or Ener-G Egg Replacer or another commercial mix found in health food stores.

Cheese Replacers:

  • Soy cheese available in health food stores. (Be aware that many soy cheeses contain casein, which is a dairy product.) Here’s a soy cheese I use often on pizza and in burritos.

  • Crumbled tofu can be substituted for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese in lasagna and similar dishes.
  • Several brands of nondairy cream cheese are available in some supermarkets and kosher stores. My favorite brand is Tofutti.

Veggie Meats:

There are also many veggie meat items that can be used in your favorite recipes. One of my favorite crumbled veggie meat options is from Yves. I use this meatless ground in almost all my recipes, from vegetarian lasagna, to shepard’s pie, burritos and stir-frys.

The brand Morning Star also makes many vegetarian meat options from veggie chicken nuggets, burgers to one of my favorites this veggie sausage.

Without being too extreme, you can choose to eat healthier alternatives without making a lot of effort or sacrificing taste. By sharing these tips and options I hope to help raise your awareness to what tasty alternatives are available for your “meatless” recipes.

For further information, here are some other resources I’ve found.

Vegan protein: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm#table2

Vegan recipes even a meat lover can love: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/vegan-recipes?src=syn&mag=tdg&dom=tdg&link=rel

Let me know if you have any favorite substitutes, veggie products or recipes. I’d love to hear about them and share your ideas with others.

Be happy, healthy and well!