Did you just step foot in the world of vegan cooking? You may find whipping up some of your favorite gastronomic masterpieces a real challenge because you have to eliminate anything that comes from animals — meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and even honey!

Fortunately, whether the reason for your going vegan is for humanitarian purposes or optimum health — or both — there is no need to turn your back on some of your favorite recipes as you can simply substitute animal-based ingredients with others that are not no-no’s among vegans.

Before you take your favorite spot in your kitchen and start peeling, slicing, sautéing, simmering or baking, read on. The following is a very simple vegan cooking substitution guide.

Milk

  • Soy milk – It’s a very popular substitute for cow’s milk. Thanks to its light taste, it can be used for cooking anything that lists milk as one of its most important ingredients. Soy milk is rich in vitamin D, calcium and of course protein!
  • Almond milk – Although thicker, almond milk packs just about the same amount of calories as cow’s milk. However, it is loaded with more antioxidants and healthy fats. The richness of almond milk makes it especially great for baking.
  • Coconut milk – compared to cow’s milk, coconut milk is not that rich in calcium. The good news is it has fewer calories than milk, plus it yields vitamins and minerals for the body’s optimum functioning.

Eggs

  • Tofu – Made of curdled soybeans, tofu is a wonderful egg replacement. Did you know that cup of it yields more protein than a large egg? Tofu also supplies your body with fiber that helps prevent constipation and even colorectal cancer.
  • Mashed bananas – It’s true that bananas are nothing like eggs taste- and appearance-wise. However, mashed bananas make for excellent egg replacements when it comes to baking brownies, muffins and cakes.
  • Unsweetened applesauce – Unlike eggs, this product does not contain cholesterol that can leave your arteries clogged and your risk of heart disease increased. For every egg, use 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce to get the desired result.

Butter

  • Soy margarine – It can be hard to believe that soy margarine isn’t dairy — but you better believe it! This vegan product has the consistency as well as taste of butter, making it excellent for a lot of treats requiring butter.
  • Coconut butter – Since it does not contain cholesterol, coconut butter won’t leave you fearing for your cardiovascular health. Thanks to its slightly nutty taste and very rich texture, coconut butter is perfect for whipping up chocolate desserts.

Meat

  • Firm tofu – When shopping for tofu as meat replacement, opt for something that’s firm. Getting your hands on extra firm tofu is highly recommended! Packed with protein and fiber, tofu is superb for creating pastas, lasagnas and salsas.
  • Tempeh – Both tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans. However, the latter has a bumpy texture since it’s out of whole soybeans. Using tempeh as meat substitute helps ensure that your masterpiece is rich in protein, fiber and antioxidants too!
  • TVP – TVP stands for textured vegetable protein. What it is basically is soy flour that’s devoid of oils as they’re removed during processing. TVP is the perfect replacement for ground meat or turkey.
  • Seitan – A lot of people swear by the uncanny similarity of seitan and meat in texture — you may even have a hard time figuring out which is which! However, stay away from it if you are sensitive or allergic to gluten as it’s out of wheat.

Cheese

  • Soy cheese – Consider soy cheese as a vegetarian marvel because it tastes just like the real deal. Since it also melts and spreads just like cheese, it can be used for whipping up all sorts of goodies with cheese in them.
  • Nutritional yeast – Aside from being vegan, what’s so good about nutritional yeast is it does not contain as much sodium as regular cheese, so it’s perfect for anyone who is keeping his or her blood pressure from soaring.
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