Switching to a vegan diet can seem very daunting, but not only are the environmental impacts absolutely worth it, it is actually much easier than you might think. If you think about the animal products that you consumer, there are probably a lot of easy switches you can make to move towards a diet that is more plant based. Vegan products are no longer difficult to obtain, with this kind of diet becoming exponentially more popular in the current climate crisis.
If you’re skeptical about eating a plant based diet, take a look at these fifteen easy vegan food swaps that you can make in your diet just to get you started.
1. Oat Milk
The environmental impacts of dairy milk are widely known, and there are so many different varieties that you can try to replace it. Almond, cashew, rice and hazelnut milks are all available but the most popular (and arguably the one with the least negative environmental impact) is oat milk. You can put oat milk in your coffee (even Starbucks offer it), cereal, cakes, tea and just about everything else. Not only does it taste great, but it has such a lower environmental impact than drinking cow’s milk. The next time you’re at the supermarket, try picking up some oat milk instead, and you’ll definitely be convinced.
2. Vegan Mayo
A lot of people assume that becoming a vegan means giving up a lot of your favourite foods, but this is absolutely not the case, and mayonnaise is no exception. You can find plenty of recipes to make your own ‘veganaise’ at home, but big brands like Hellmann’s have recently started to produce vegan alternatives to their products so it is easier than ever to get ahold of this plant based alternative.
3. Olive Oil Spread
Swapping out your dairy butter for a plant based substitute is so easy and you will probably not even notice the change. Not only is this a good vegan swap, but it is also much lower in cholesterol than regular butter so you are benefitting both your own health and the environment by making this easy switch!
Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian soy product that has recently become a very popular meat alternative for vegetarians and vegans. It is soybean based, so is a really good source of protein for anyone eating a plant based diet. Tempeh is so easy to make at home, to switch out the meat products of your meal – it goes great in stir fry instead of chicken for example.
Seitan is a similar meat substitute to tempeh, but made from vital wheat gluten rather than soybeans. Seitan has become a popular meat vegan products in restaurants such as Wagamamas, where you can find it in the Vegatsu – an alternative to their famous chicken Katsu. This is a really healthy and delicious vegan alternative to the meat products in your food that is perfect if you’re craving some protein in your meals whilst eating a vegan diet.
6. Flax Egg
Most plant based baking recipes can simply be made without an egg substitute, simply by adding more oil or plant milk to get the right consistency. However, certain recipes can be much better if a plant based alternative is used rather than an egg, and a flax egg is a great vegan swap to make. When mixed with water, flax seeds take on a very similar consistency to an egg so make a great switch in any recipe.
7. Blended Tofu
This may not sound like the most appetising swap, but when blended tofu is incorporated into a recipe with other ingredients you won’t even be able to taste it. It is really just used for consistency and texture purposes in recipes to avoid using creamier dairy products such as double cream or sour cream.
8. Gelatine Free Sweets
Sticking to sweets without gelatine is such an easy swap to make, and again, is one that you won’t even notice. Most mainstream companies such as Haribo do have options available that do not contain pork gelatine in their recipes, all you have to do is look a little bit closer on the shelves. Gelatine free sweets taste almost exactly the same as the regular ones, but with much less of an environmental impact.
9. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a really popular ingredient for anyone eating a vegan diet as it can be added to so many recipes to achieve a rich cheesy taste. It comes in powdered form and you can find it in both supermarkets or health food stores. Nutritional yeast is a great vegan swap you can make for cheese when making things like cauliflower cheese or macaroni and cheese to get the same taste without using animal products.
10. Coconut Milk
Similarly to the blended tofu, coconut milk is a great ingredient to use to avoid heavy cream in a baking recipe. Not only is it plant rather than animal based, but it is a much healthier alternative to using thick cream in recipes. If you’re not convinced by the blended tofu, try using coconut milk for a sweeter swap!
11. Frozen Bananas
Frozen bananas have become a great healthy and plant based alternative to ice cream in recent years, known as ‘nice cream’. When frozen bananas are blended up with some plant milk they turn into a thick and creamy consistency that is very similar to ice cream. You can add in other fruits, maple syrup or even cocoa powder to add some flavour to your ‘nice cream’ for a great vegan alternative to ice cream. The next time you have some overly ripe bananas in your fruit bowl, instead of throwing them out, chop them up and freeze them for your next ‘nice cream’ recipe!
12. Apple Sauce
Apple sauce is another good ingredient to use when you are baking vegan recipes to improve consistency. Just add it in rather than using cream or butter for a healthier and plant based swap that will really improve your baked goods!
13. Dairy Free Ice Cream
Even big companies such as Ben & Jerry’s have started to produce vegan alternatives to their classic ice creams. With vegan swaps such as this so readily available, why not make the switch? They taste just as good, but are made from much cleaner ingredients. So many brands are releasing new vegan ice cream products – there is now even a vegan Magnum available.
14. Vegan Pesto
In most free from sections of supermarkets you’ll be able to find vegan pesto. Most pesto includes parmesan cheese in its ingredients, but vegan alternatives taste just as good. You can even make it at home yourself easily!
15. Agave Syrup
Agave syrup is a good alternative for vegans avoiding honey in their diet. You can use it tea, coffee or porridge for a natural sweetener and it’s also great for baking. Agave syrup is also a great swap to make if you are trying to avoid refined sugars in your diet.