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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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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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