When people first go vegan – and even many years after going vegan – there are certain comfort foods, perhaps childhood foods, that some of us crave. Fortunately there are lots of creative and talented vegan chefs out there, and more and more wonderful vegan products on the market, that make it EASY to veganize foods, once you know appropriate substitutes and how to use them. But there are different types of “veganizing” and new vegans should beware.
To some people veganizing food means replacing meat/dairy products with faux meat/dairy products. And there are so many vegan substitute foods out in the market these days, it’s actually REALLY easy to make vegan versions of almost anything. In the interest of being a healthy vegan, though, try to avoid just substituting unhealthy meat-based processed foods with unhealthy plant-based processed foods.
Although faux meat and cheese products can be very convenient, and many of them are pretty tasty, if you’re eating them on a regular basis, you’re likely taking in a lot of calories, and lots of chemicals too. That’s not to say you should never use them – one of my family’s comfort foods is savoury meatballs made with veggie ground round – but we have them as a treat, not an every day thing.
But there are other ways to veganize your favorite foods without using “faux” substitutes! Get creating and try using veggies, grains or tofu/tempeh/seitan in replace of animal products in your favorite dishes. For example, I grew up eating Shepherd’s Pie, and for me that is still a comfort food. Instead of replacing the ground beef with veggie ground round, however, I replace it with brown rice (or a combination of rice and beans) cooked in veg broth – very tasty, and much healthier! Another good example is spaghetti sauce. My family loves a substantial sauce, but to get away from the faux meat/meatballs I use an extra firm tofu that has been frozen to give it a chewier texture.
Ok, enough about faux meats for now…and on to baking! This is one of the big questions I get ALL THE TIME from non-vegans, and people who are new to veganism. How can you bake without eggs, butter, milk? But ironically, baking is one of the easiest things to do vegan…
It’s true egg replacement can be a little tricky, and you have to get to know your ingredients, and think about the effect you are looking for from your end product. Here is an infographic published on the Vegan Mainstream blog last year that details the different items you can use to replace eggs in baking.
For this first week of Vegan MOFO, we are talking about veganizing recipes! Tell us, what is the dish you just could not live without, and how have you veganized it? Be sure to share it with us here, or on the Vegan Mainstream Cookbook Club page!