Many favorite family recipes can become vegan-friendly by switching just an ingredient or two. The flavor and texture should be the same, but suddenly more people can eat what you are cooking.
This is the good news I share with people who are good traditional cooks but suddenly need to cook vegan food. Maybe new vegan in-laws or significant others are visiting for the holidays. Sometimes an uncle, cousin, or whole family of friends has gone vegan, plant-based, or dairy-free. Maybe the sports team has just screened The Game Changers, and the whole team has gone vegan! Whatever the reason, suddenly they don’t know what to cook. But it’s easy to eat vegan! Here are nine easy fixes with a bonus three picks to have on hand. For a deeper dive, check out my page on How to Eat Vegan or sign up for my How to Go or Stay Vegan Retreat.
9 Switches to Make Meals Vegan
- Canned chickpeas. Use the chickpeas themselves in place of chicken in chicken salad or chicken stir-fries. Toss them on salads for protein. Use three tablespoons of the liquid (aquafaba) in place of an egg in when baking. You should be able to replace one egg without noticing the difference. For multiple eggs, look for an egg-free recipe that’s been tested.
- Plant-based milk, creamer, and yogurt. Unsweetened soy milk is the closest to cows’ milk nutritionally, so it works best for baking, but really any plant-based milk will do the trick. Pour coconut milk over cereal or stir it up into a pudding. Lighten your coffee with oat-based creamer: it’s shockingly good. Some of my friends rave about coconut-based creamer too. Coconut and oat yogurt will make baked goods moist and tender as well as brightening your breakfast.
- Vegan butter. Bake with Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter (organic) or Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. If you are on a budget and just want something to spread on toast, try Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread. Avocado oil adds buttery flavor when drizzled over cooked vegetables.
- Hummus or guacamole. These creamy, flavorful spreads can take the place of cheese in many cases. Spread on cheese-free pizza, top burritos, roll up in wraps, layer into sandwiches, top baked potatoes, and enjoy with chips or crackers.
- Vegan salad dressing. So many perfectly wonderful salads are put off-limits by salad dressings that have cheese or cream in them. Instead, pick up an all-plant dressing. I’d start with one of Annie’s organic vegan dressings. Many flavors work well as marinades for vegetables or tofu.
- Vegan mayonnaise. Just Mayo broke ground years ago by winning a taste-test against traditional brands. It’s hard to find now outside a Wal-Mart, but there are many other brands available. Even Hellman’s has a vegan mayonnaise! Use it to make coleslaw, potato salad (skip the eggs), ranch dressing, and tomato sandwiches.
- Veggie burgers. Omnivores and many vegans love Impossible Burgers and Beyond Burgers. Personally, I prefer something a little less meat-like. Look in the cooler for Field Roast’s Field Burgers or the freezer for Amy’s Black Bean or Sonoma Veggie Burger.
- Vegan sausages or hot dogs. The new vegan sausages are so good that we’ve had to make a rule to eat them just once a week. Sometimes I grill “notdogs,” but usually I roast a sausage to share on our pasta. My favorites are Field Roast Italian or Smoked Apple Sage.
- Full-fat coconut milk. Whip it up into Whipped Coconut Cream to top desserts.
3 Bonus Ideas
- Vegan frozen dinners. We’re partial to Amy’s dairy-free enchiladas, but there are loads of choices.
- Vegan ice cream. Stumped for dessert? Scoop up a rich plant-based ice cream. The ones based on cashews, avocado, oats, or pea protein are creamiest. My favorites include So Delicious Salted Caramel Cluster, Cado Deep Dark Chocolate, and Halo Top‘s dairy-free varieties. Hershey’s Syrup is vegan too, but the company says to check the label in case they change.
- Accidentally vegan food. PETA maintains a list of brand-name foods that happen to be vegan. When I looked today, I spotted Life cereal, Cracker Jacks, Campbell’s Mushroom Gravy, Pillsbury Original Crescent Rolls, and loads of other choices. I gave out Oreos for Halloween (the original thin version). The kids never guessed it was scary vegan food!