I’ve been making vegetarian swaps for years now (more on why I’m a veggie here), and thought I’d throw in my two cents. Now, obviously a whole book can be written on the subject, so this is just a starter. But, it isn’t too hard to make almost any dish vegetarian or vegan once you’re armed with a few swaps.
I’ve included some links to some of the dishes I’ve made where I made the dish vegetarian or vegan so that you can see some ideas.
There are vegan or vegetarian versions of meats (be sure you read the ingredients if you’re vegan). Try swapping in tofu, Tempeh, falafel, meat-free burger patties, fake chicken, fake beef, or sausages. There are vegan versions of milk or yogurt (soy, nut, rice, oat). There are also vegan versions of sour cream, cream cheese, and cheese. Some well-stocked grocery stores carry these items. Or, places like Mothers, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or Sprouts also carry them.
Swaps for Meat:
- Get creative with veggies as your substitutions. Try using potatoes, mushrooms, beans, chickpeas, split peas, lentils, spinach, chard, kale, broccoli, butternut squash. Mushrooms make a great sub for a hamburger patty. They also work well when we’re having steaks on the grill, I’ll have a big grilled portobello mushroom.
- Try adding dried fruits like apricots, prunes, sun-dried tomatoes, or figs. Dried fruits add a nice meaty texture to vegetarian dishes. When I see pepperoni on pizza I think of sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add in some nuts or seeds like cashews, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini, or even nutritional yeast. They’ll help boost the protein and good fats in your dish as well as adding nice texture and flavor.
- Grains like quinoa, bulgur, millet, wheat germ, or barley are also great subs or add-ins. Grains have a nice chewy texture that can be missing when the meat is taken out of a dish.
Swaps for Eggs in baking: I eat eggs. But, if you don’t there are many options for replacing them from baked goods. Keep the flavor of the dish in mind, for instance, if you’re making banana muffins, a banana would taste good, but if you’re making biscuit topping for a pot pie, I’d stick with something a little less flavorful like flaxseed or tofu.
- Try mashed or pureed vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or onions in savory baked goods (or even in soups)
- Mashed or pureed fruits like dates, banana, applesauce, prunes
¼ cup applesauce = 1 egg (great for adding moisture)
1 banana = 1 egg (great for cakes, pancakes)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon vinegar = 1 egg
(for waffles, muffins, pancakes, hearty cookies, breads)
- ¼ cup silken tofu or soy or nut yogurt = 1 egg
(Blend the tofu or yogurt until smooth and add to the liquid ingredients before they’re added to the dry ingredients. This adds a rich flavor to the dish.)
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg
(great for waffles, muffins, pancakes, cookies, breads)
- If you’re making a baked good that requires an “egg wash” you can substitute water, oil, non-dairy milk or non-dairy butter
- If you want to thicken something, use potato starch, cornstarch, flour, agar-agar, arrowroot powder, or nut butter.
2 Tablespoons potato starch, cornstarch, arrowroot starch = 1 egg
- There are many commercial products out there. Personally, I haven’t tried any of them, and would generally rather sub in something I already have in the kitchen.
- soy milk, nut milks, or rice milks
- soy yogurt or nut yogurt
- Oil is another substitution option in baking, for ½ cup butter, use 1/3 cup oil
- 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup soy milk + 2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- honey = maple syrup
- Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce = soy sauce
- Mayo = sour cream = blended silken tofu = nut butters = non-diary yogurt = avocados
So, there’s my starter on some swaps I make. Keep your end dish in mind: savory or sweet? filling or light? veggie filled or not? And, experiment with some new stuff.
What are your favorite substitutions for making something vegetarian or vegan?