Diet & Nutrition

8 easy vegan food swaps to try out

Beyonce's a fan, as are Miley and Ellen. Here are eight easy ways to join the plant-based revolution.

By Erin Fisher
If you're going vegan, or just thinking about it, one of the hardest parts is trying to figure out what you can eat and ways to recreate your favourite meals without using animal products.
Thinking about going vegan can raise all sorts of questions, such as, "How could I possibly go without cheese?" or "What would I use instead of eggs?"
Rest assured, there are lots of easy swaps you can make, and being vegan doesn't have to mean living on a diet of carrots and lettuce.
You can still eat all your favourite meals – nachos, wraps, burgers, salads, pasta, curries, stir-fries and soups, and it's a lot easier than you think! Even if going vegan is not on your to-do list, a lot of these swaps make healthy alternatives to change up your routine.

1. Yoghurt

Yoghurt makes a great snack, and is also a yummy addition to muesli, fruit smoothies and even curry.
There are lots of different coconut and almond yoghurts out there, both plain and flavoured.
If you want something rich and creamy, go for coconut yoghurt (commonly referred to as coyo), but if you don't like the taste of coconut or are after something lighter, opt for almond yoghurt.

2. Mayonnaise or butter

Sandwiches, toast, crackers and wraps aren't much fun without toppings. Luckily, there are so many options for healthy vegan versions.
Butter can easily be swapped for avocado, or try a spoonful of hummus or nut butter, all of which are full of protein and healthy fats.
Top with some slices of tomato and a little salt and pepper. Delish!
Who doesn't love a bit of avocado? (Image: Getty Images)

3. Eggs

When a recipe calls for an egg, most of the time it is used as a binding agent, either in baking or in things like burger patties.
Chia seeds or ground flaxseed combined with warm water works like magic. It might sound strange, but when left to sit for 10 minutes, both will thicken up to an egg or jelly-like consistency. Vegan patties are great in a burger bun or wrap, crumbled over salad or as a pizza topping. Both flaxseeds and chia seeds are high in omega 3, so it's a nutritious substitute too.
If you are a fan of scrambled eggs, give scrambled tofu a try! There are two types of tofu – silken and firm. For a tofu scramble, go for the firm stuff. You can either crumble it in your hands, or use a wooden spoon and break it up in the pan. Tofu on its own doesn't have much flavour, so experiment with tasty ingredients. If you like Asian flavours, add a little soy sauce or Thai curry paste. You can also make a Mexican scramble with corn, peppers, spices like cumin and chilli, and fresh coriander.

4. Milk

This is by far the easiest swap to make, as there is such an abundance of dairy-free milks now on the shelf.
Almond, soy and coconut milk are all popular options, but contenders like cashew, oat and rice milk are also available in supermarkets.
Soy has the most protein of all non-dairy milks, and in that regard it's the most comparable to cow's milk for baking and cooking. Meanwhile, almonds are a natural superfood, and almond milk also has a low level of saturated fat, making it a healthier alternative to trim milk.
You can use dairy-free milks in baking, pasta sauce, curry, soup or with breakfast. Some milks, especially soy and coconut, may impart extra flavour to baking or cooking, so keep this in mind when you're using it in place of dairy milk.
There are a variety of milks out there ranging from almond to soy. (Image: Getty Images)

5. Cream

For savoury dishes like curry, coconut cream or milk is a delicious substitute for cream.
If you need whipped cream for a dessert, just put a can in the fridge overnight and it will separate with the coconut solids rising to the top. Drain off the liquid, pop the coconut solids into a bowl and get whipping!
There are also lots of recipes for avocado chocolate mousse. If ice cream cravings strike, freeze peeled ripe bananas before blending them, or simply buy a tub of dairy-free ice cream.

6. Milk chocolate

A lot of people tend to think that going vegan means no treats, and no chocolate. Thankfully, this is not true.
Next time you're at the supermarket staring at the chocolate bars, opt for the dark variety! Just look at the ingredients and make sure there aren't any milk products on the list and you're good to go. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the more bitter the chocolate will be.
WATCH: Why chocolate is good for you. Post continues...

7. Mince

Beef mince is the star in a lot of dinner recipes, like spaghetti Bolognese, tacos, meatballs and burger patties.
Bolognese is easy to make using lentils, for burger patties or meatballs just mash up beans (black, cannellini and kidney all work well), and tofu or quinoa make great substitutes for taco meat.

8. Cheese

This family favourite is definitely one of the hardest things to go without when it comes to going vegan as it features in so many recipes and is an easy way to add flavour to any dish.
But going vegan doesn't have to mean saying goodbye to mac and cheese!
You can make a beautiful cheesy sauce with cashew nuts, almond milk, steamed pumpkin and the magic cheesy ingredient – nutritional yeast. Despite the name, it doesn't have a yeasty flavour.
To increase your intake of veges even more, you can add things like mushrooms, peas and spinach. Nutritional yeast is something you can find at most health stores, and it works well mixed into dressings or sprinkled as a seasoning too.
You can still enjoy cheesy dishes minus the dairy! (Image: Giphy)

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