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Vegan Substitutes for Animal Products

Updated on July 7, 2015
Morning Star's Chik'n Strips, Veggie burgers and meal starter crumbles and some vegan sausages, Yum!
Morning Star's Chik'n Strips, Veggie burgers and meal starter crumbles and some vegan sausages, Yum! | Source

Going vegan can be difficult. There are just so many animal products on the market which makes it difficult to abstain from animal products completely. I’ve found this rather frustrating, and I have been looking for ways to substitute things like eggs, butter, and cheese with vegan products. Many of these alternatives can be expensive, however.

I have found several substitutes that work well for our family. I’ve also learned how to alter recipes to make them vegan friendly. This hub contains the substitutions I use in my diet, and my next hub will show you how to alter recipes and what necessities every vegan needs in their kitchen.

Meats

Vegan substitutes for meat are quite common and most of us see them in the freezer every time we go to the grocery store. There are many different brands, but they are all essentially the same. Both Morning Star and Boca make burgers as well as a few different breakfast items and corn dogs. This is a brief list of available “meats.”

  • Tofu
  • Morning Star Meal Starters Crumbles (replaces ground beef)
  • Morning Star Meak Starters Chik’n (replaces chicken strips, and very well I might add)
  • Seitan
  • Tempeh
  • TVP, or textured vegetable protein

Cheeses

I love cheese, and I occasionally still indulge in a veggie cheese pizza. But I try to stay away from it as much as possible. There are a couple of things you can use in place of cheese that taste the same if not better.

  • Vegan Cheese – There are quite a few different kinds of vegan cheese but most of them use nutritional yeast or ground cashews to mimic the taste. Vegan cheese can be made from rice as well as soy. Some also use tahini which can be very fattening, but it’s really yummy!
  • Nutritional Yeast – This is a low-fat, low-sodium deactivated yeast that replaces cheese in recipes very well. It’s also good on popcorn.
  • Ground Cashews – These make an excellent substitute for parmesan cheese. I have a great recipe for lasagna that uses ground cashews as the cheesy top layer.

Source
Source

Milk Substitutes

There are several different types of milk substitute available on the market. Some of the most popular are:

  • Soy Milk – This is the most common choice for milk substitutes. But thanks to Monsanto, most soy beans are now GMO (genetically modified organisms). I try to stay away from soy milk as much as possible.
  • Almond Milk – This is my favorite milk substitute. It comes in four flavors: unsweetened, original, vanilla and chocolate. The chocolate almond milk is just sinfully delicious and because it’s thicker than most other milk substitutes, it makes wonderful smoothies. I use almond milk in all my recipes; it’s the only “milk” available in our house.
  • Rice Milk – This milk is made from brown rice (even though it isn’t brown). It also comes in flavors including unsweetened, vanilla, almond, and chocolate.
  • Hemp Milk – Yet another thing that can be made from hemp! Made from the ground seeds of the plant, this milk is high in protein, omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, as well as potassium, iron, the B vitamins, and calcium. It has a slightly nutty flavor which makes it a wonderful drink.
  • Coconut Milk – Made from coconuts, this milk is a bit more watery than almond or rice milk, unless you specifically get thick coconut milk. Unfortunately, unlike almond milk, the coconut variety doesn’t last as long even in the refrigerator. Almond milk can last about 14 days, whereas coconut milk can only last a few days after it’s opened.
  • Oat Milk – Also known as grain milk because it can be made from almost any grain, oat milk comes in different flavors including vanilla and chocolate.

Yogurts

Most vegan yogurts are made with soy products, and these can be a bit pricey. If I really have a hankering for yogurt, I’ll have hubby pick up some silken tofu and I’ll make it myself in the blender. But there are a few brands on the market that are worth trying.

  • Silk – The same company that makes the amazing almond milk also makes a vegan soy yogurt. It comes in several flavors including Apricot-Mango, Banana-Strawberry, Black Cherry, Blueberry, Key Lime, Lemon, Peach, Raspberry, Strawberry, and Vanilla.
  • WholeSoy – This company guarantees their soy beans are organic and grown in the USA. They also have several flavors including: Apricot-Mango, Banana-Strawberry, Cherry, Mixed Berry, Key Lime, Lemon, Peach, Plain, Raspberry, Strawberry, and Vanilla.
  • Nogurt – This is labeled as a “fruit snack” but it’s the consistency of yogurt and is made with banana puree among other things. It comes in orange, chocolate, blueberry and pomegranate flavors.

Butters

There are a few “butters” that claim to be vegan, but if you take a look at their ingredients they clearly are not. Those that are usually aren’t as healthy as they should be. Here is a list of vegan butters that are the healthiest on the market.

  • Dixie Diner’s Club™ Low Fat Butter (Not!)™ - This is “dry blend” that is mixed with hot water and then chilled. It can also be used as a butter to drizzle on popcorn. It’s a little pricey for my taste.
  • Earth Balance® - I love this spread. It is so yummy. I use it in rice, on bread, in recipes that call for butter, just about everything. It comes in several different “flavors” including: Original, Olive Oil, Soy Free, Soy Garden and Whipped buttery spread.
  • Margarine – Surprisingly, most margarines are vegan which is why I’m listing it here. They just aren’t very healthy.

This vegan spread tastes so much better than real butter!!
This vegan spread tastes so much better than real butter!! | Source

Sour Cream

  • Tofutti – This is really the only sour cream I’ve been able to find. It’s actually quite good, but I don’t use sour cream enough to buy it all the time.
  • Silken Lite Tofu – It doesn’t taste like sour cream, but it does give the consistency of it.

My favorite dressing. It's fattening, but it is so good!
My favorite dressing. It's fattening, but it is so good! | Source

Mayo and Salad Dressings

Don’t forget about the mayo which contains eggs, and the ranch dressing you love that has milk in it! Here are some substitutes you can try.

  • Follow Your Heart® Vegenaise® - This stuff is really pricey, but I hear it’s also very good. I have yet to try it; I usually just make my own.
  • Earth Balance® MindfulMayo® - Another one I have not tried, but this one is on my “to try” list. It comes in original, organic and olive oil flavors.
  • Annie’s Organic Goddess Dressing – I used to love ranch dressing, but when I decided to go vegan, I had to get rid of it! My hubby found this awesome dressing for me, and while it is a bit expensive, it’s well worth the cost. I must warn you, it is fattening since it contains tahini.

What to Look for in Substitutes

When looking for vegan substitutes, the main thing to remember is read the labels. Many products may say they are vegan, but they still contain lactic acid. Lactic acid can be derived from the sugar in beets, but normally it is labeled as such. If you don’t see where it comes from, it’s probably an animal product.

Many vegan products have extra sugar or oil added to them to create the consistency of the product they are meant to replace. This can lead to a product that is more fattening then the original. Look for items with natural sugars such as: agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, pure maple syrup, turbinado, honey, Sucanat or xylitol.

This is a brief list of substitutes; I’m sure there are many, many more. As I find new products, I’ll update this hub with them. My next hub in this series will be a list of necessities for the vegan kitchen with some tips on how to alter your favorite recipes.

© Copyright 2012 - 2015 by Melissa "Daughter of Maat" Flagg ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub, Melissa. I love Silk Milk and Morning star products, even Boca burgers. I've tried tofu and TVP--would have to try for tempeh and seitan and the other products here this fall.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Mary Merriment, I agree. We have to look so closely, and of course then you have to worry about GMOs and all that crap... Hopefully we'll get labeling in the near future, you know before the GMOs give us all cancer... :D

    • Mary Merriment profile image

      Mary Merriment 4 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

      Hiding animal ingredients in non animal foods makes no sense to me. I have seen this happen in a few of the vegetarian/vegan foods we have picked up or looked at. Thanks for sharing your list. It can be difficult to know what to look for when you make such a huge dietary transition away from meat and meat products.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 4 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @mythbuster, you're quite welcome! I have a difficult time with dairy, on rare occasions I do make exceptions and use real cheese, but that's about the extent of it. In fact, the other day I ran out of Earth Balance and had to use the last stick of real butter I had, and it was HORRIBLE!! I couldn't stand the taste of it! I was actually surprised at my reaction!

      Do me a favor and leave me a message here after you try the oat milk and let me know how it is. I wanted to try it, but I got so hooked on the almond milk I've been afraid to try anything else! lol

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 4 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thanks for this list of substitutes. I have never been a milk drinker but can tolerate small amounts of dairy. Basically I buy milk about three times per year - usually to take to someone else for a recipe, beverage at pot luck supper or something. I am going to try the oat milk suggested here as an alternative. I haven't often heard about this one but it will probably be the most useful substitute for me as I always have oats on hand. Voted up!

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you Rajan. My goal was to create a reference that puts many of the vegan substitutes all in one place. I had a hard time finding info on it when I first became vegan. Thanks so much for the votes and shares!!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      DOM, this is an inspiring and useful list of vegan choices to replace their counterparts in animal products.

      Voted up, useful and interesting. Shared on G+1 so that others can benefit from your hub.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Please do. I'll be looking out for it.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Tofu... :D I think the binding agent is quinoa and barley or something to that effect. I might have to write a hub on it if it comes out good.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      By fake I presume you mean something like Quorn mince. I tried that once and really couldn't work with it. It was alright for pasta sauce but that was about it. I had much better luck with Quorn pieces in stews, casseroles and curries. Hmm...I think I better start making an alternative shopping list.

      Enjoy your meatloaf.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      OOOhhh that sounds good!! ha ha ha, let me know how those taters come out. I think I'll attempt a fake meatloaf recipe I've been staring at, just so I can make mashed taters... I've been drooling over them since I mentioned it!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      My family love mash. That would be the acid test. If they go for it then I'm definitely on to a winner. Especially my husband. (He's a staunch carnivore.)

      I think I'll make a meat loaf with mash potatoes this weekend.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Woohoo!!! ya!! I use almond milk in all my cooking too, even mashed potatoes. Surprisingly, you can't taste the almonds in the taters... but the consistency is much creamier!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi, DOM. Breakfast was a success. Normally, my oatmeal tends to leave a coated feeling to my tongue. Using the almond milk the texture with light and clean. The slight almond taste gave the oatmeal an interesting nuance. I'm definitely keeping this on my shopping list.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      My hubby just bought vanilla coconut milk because they were out of vanilla almond milk. I'm not a fan of coconut milk, but I've never tried it in my cereal, so I did this am. ICK!! I don't recommend it, but I don't like coconut either! It's so watery and tastes like they forgot to put the vanilla in! The blue diamond vanilla almond milk we got wasn't actually all that bad. The taste was decent, but definitely not as sweet as Silk's version.

      How was your breakfast?? :D

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      It actually took a bit of doing to find almond milk. There's plenty of soya milk available in various flavours though. Blue Diamond is the one I bought. It was on offer so I thought I'd give it a try. The only other one was Alpro who do all types of soya milk and hazelnut milk.

      It never occurred to me to check online. Weird since I do a fair amount of shopping online. I'm actually in the middle of preparing my breakfast using the almond milk. I'll let you know how that goes. Catch you later.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Phoenix, I'll be honest, I've never tried the unsweetened. But I do know some almond milks aren't as thick as others. Like Blue diamond is actually quite watery and is horrible in coffee. I always use Silk, and the vanilla milk at that. But you're in the UK, so I'm don't know what's available. I do use it in my cereal every morning. THe really awesome thing about almond milk is how much potassium and calcium is in it. Way more than cow's milk!!

      Have you tried checking online to see if you can order different flavors? I know there's a vegan website that sells hard to find vegan items, and many of them a perishable, but I don't know if they ship outside the US. It's veganessentials.com

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Michelle Thank you!! I was a huge steak fan myself, but I found potabello steaks taste just like the real thing! Some peole just need to eat meat though, veganism isn't for everyone. I was also lactose intolerant. I found when I switched to almond milk for cooking and drinking I felt quite a bit better. Plus that chocolate almond milk is just soooo gooood lol.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I'm easing my way into this and bought a litre of almond milk. Sadly it seems to come in only one flavour here, unsweetened. (I wanted to give the vanilla flavour a go)

      I've already discovered it doesn't work in coffee. Tomorrow I'm going to use it to make porridge for breakfast.

    • Michelle Taylor profile image

      Michelle Taylor 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Lots of good information! I will never be able to go vegan (I enjoy my steak WAY too much) but I am lactose intolerant and the chocolate almond milk seems like a great substitue for my shakes in the morning. I am definitely passing this hub along to my friends that are trying to go vegan :-)

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Thank you TT! I actually had difficulty with meat and dairy after my gall bladder was removed which was a pain in the rear (literally) when we went out to eat. I always had to have a bathroom nearby. But now, I don't have to worry about that at all! Let me know how these substitutes work for you!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Very interesting info, DOM! :) I have a hard time with beef and milk ever since I had gastric bypass. Great information and I think I'll try some of these! VUMS!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I need to change my diet as my digestive system seems to have issues with foods it didn't use. Perhaps some substitutes are in order.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @Dr Pooja the dark chocolate almond milk has 120 calories per 1 cup of milk and only 3 grams of fat. Plus it has a lot more calcium than cow's milk.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image
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      Melissa Flagg 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      @jaye, I mentioned Monsanto and their GMO ways, as well as making sure to check ingredients on labels. This was a list of the available vegan products on the market currently and mainly for those who want to go vegan but may not be able to afford all the completely organic foods. Unfortunately, eating healthy isn't cheap and those of us living paycheck to paycheck have to eat as healthy as possible without breaking the bank (hence why I make a lot of my own condiments).

      It's actually a touchy subject with me as well, and if you read my other hubs on the subject you'll see that I'm not a fan of GMO or the other crap the government tries to push down our throats (considering congress is owned by the meat industry). I try to get the information out there so that people can make their own decisions. It's the best I can do considering I don't own a meat or dairy farm lol.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I don't want to rain on your parade, but if you're not very careful when buying vegan products, you can still get some nasty additives.

      For example, Morningstar Farms only produces one or two products from organic soy. Any product made from non-organic soy probably contains the EPA-labeled air pollutant and neurotoxin, hexene. Not good. It is very difficult to find organic soy burgers, and the ones I've tried (produced by Amy's Kitchen) don't taste very good and the texture is awful. (Sorry, Amy, but truth is truth.) I will say in Amy's defense that a lot of other Amy's Kitchen products are delicious...but not the veggie burgers.

      The same is true with non-organic soy milk, soy yogurt, faux "cheeze" made from soy and other soy products. I like almond milk, but still buy only the organic variety distributed by Pacific Natural Foods.

      After the news report several months ago that rice in the U.S. (particularly brown rice, which is what I then used) retains from the earth a lot of the type of arsenic that's unhealthy, I stopped buying any rice but organic basmatic rice grown in the Himalayan valley, where there is not so much arsenic in the soil.

      In fact, with Monsanto trying to rule the world (and poison us all) via GMO seeds that are unhealthy even if the corrupt FDA won't label them, it's not safe to eat any veggies (especially corn and, as you mentioned, soybeans) unless they're labeled "organic." The organic standards still won't allow GMO seeds, but if Monsanto and their deep pocket lobbyists have their way, who knows WHAT (if anything) will be safe to eat in the future?

      Sorry...I didn't mean to turn this into a rant, but (as you can tell) it's a touchy topic with me.

      At any rate, congratulations on going vegan and doing your part toward a better world.

      Jaye

    • Dr Pooja profile image

      Dr Pooja 5 years ago

      I am not a vegan but curosity made me read your hub.Informative!!!What about almond milk calorie content?Am too fond of dark chocolate and would like to try if calories are ok.