Whether you’re new to a vegan lifestyle or have just started a plant-based diet, you might be looking for a beginner’s guide that’ll help you substitute animal-based ingredients with plant-based ones.
Well, look no further! Here’s a list of top 10 vegan substitutes for newbie vegans, and vegan-curious. Let’s get started!
Seitan, aka Vital Wheat Gluten, is a popular vegan substitute for meat. As the name suggests, Seitan is made completely out of gluten – the main protein in wheat.
100 grams of wheat gluten contains a whopping 75 grams of protein. This makes it an ideal source of protein for vegans.
Depending on how you cook it, the texture of seitan can be as soft as pot roast, or as firm as a steak.
Recipe Inspiration: Vegan Butter Chicken made using wheat gluten (and prepared from scratch).
If the idea of a gluten-loaded Seitan turns you off, you’re going to love Jackfruit. It’s gluten-free (obviously), and has a texture that’s very similar to chicken or pulled pork – making it an incredible meat alternative for burgers, tacos, noodles, and curries.
Only raw, unripe jackfruits can be used as meat substitutes.
Jackfruits can be purchased fresh, frozen, or canned. Fresh ones are easily available in the Indian subcontinent, whereas frozen/canned ones can be found all over the world.
Tip: For savory dishes and curries, make sure you purchase the canned jackfruits with the label “packed in brine”.
For meaty recipes, go for the ones with the label “tender”, “green”, or “young”.
Recipe Inspiration: This BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich is one of our all-time fav Jackfruit recipes.
The juicy and hearty textures of King Oyster, Cremini, Portobello, and Shiitake mushrooms make them perfect meat-replacing candidates.
They’re also super versatile and can be used in gazillions of dishes – from Mushroom Stroganoff to Mushroom Bean Burger, you can prepare them all!
What’s incredible is Mushrooms are easier to prepare than Seitan and are more accessible than Jackfruits…while tasting just as great!
Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting soy curds into solid blocks.
Depending upon the softness of the tofu, you can use them to replace eggs (like this Tofu Scramble), or you can use them to substitute chicken (like this General Tso’s Tofu, or this Tofu Tikka Masala).
Flax Seeds: Because of their binding properties and relatively neutral taste, flax seeds make a great egg replacement – specially while baking.
Simply combine 1 tablespoon of flax meal (ground flax) with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Chia Seeds: Chia Seeds also have the same properties as flax seeds.
Combine 1 tablespoon of chia meal (ground chia seeds) with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Bananas: The fibrous property of bananas makes them great binding agents for your baked (and non-baked) recipes.
To replace whole eggs in cakes, pancakes, and chewy baked desserts like brownies, use 1 ripe mashed banana for every egg the recipe calls for.
Bananas do add a bit of sweetness to the baked good, so you may have to adjust other parts of the recipe you’re using to account for this.
Applesauce: 4 tablespoons of applesauce will amply replace 1 egg in your baked goods.
Just like bananas, applesauce is sweet (and also acidic) in nature. So you may have to adjust other parts of the recipe.
Chickpea Brine, aka Aquafaba, is an excellent substitute for egg white and can be used to make delicious vegan meringue, fluffy chocolate mousse, and royal icings.
Oat Milk: Most affordable plant-based milk, super easy to prepare at home, gluten-free (make sure the oats are labeled gluten-free), closest to dairy milk in terms of taste and texture, froths well.
Soy Milk: Great source of protein (contains as much protein as dairy milk, while being lower in calories), low saturated fat, can be easily substituted in any recipe that calls for milk, home-made-able.
Almond Milk: One of the best tasting plant-based milk (makes delicious Masala Chai), low in calories, easy to prepare (learn how).
Coconut Milk: High in healthy saturated fats, perfect milk to prepare heavy/whipping cream, ganache, mousse, yogurt, and much more!
Buttermilk: To substitute buttermilk, simply add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup of soy milk. Let it sit for 2 minutes, or until it is thick and curdled.
Nutritional Yeast: Adds surprisingly cheesy flavor + texture from Mac n’ Cheese, to Scalloped Potatoes, to Popcorns!
Cashews: Cashew paste (made by soaking and blending whole cashews) can be mixed with nutritional yeast to make some delicious cheesy spread. You can also combine soft tofu + firm tofu + cashews + cashews to make ricotta cheese.
It also makes a perfect cream alternative for Fettucine Alfredo.
Dark chocolate is a great milk chocolate substitute for non-dairy desserts.
Agar-agar flakes (or powder) can easily replace gelatin to prepare vegan jello, jams, gummies, and more!
Coconut Oil: A must-have ingredient for vegans. Perfect for sautéing, cooking, greasing a pan, and yes, baking (substitute ratio 1:1). We love spreading it on our morning toast.
Cold-pressed (or extra virgin) coconut oil has a mild coconut aroma and taste. Refined coconut oil does not have any flavor, nor taste.
Maple Syrup, agave syrup, and coconut nectar all make great substitutes for honey.
If you liked this Top 12 Vegan Substitutes For Newbie Vegans list, you might also enjoy our Top 10 Best Vegan Protein Sources.