Trying to make the leap into a vegan diet or whipping up food while entertaining for a vegan friend is easier than you may think! Instead of fretting over finding the perfect recipe, swap out a few simple ingredients from all of your favorite recipes to make them suitable for any hungry vegan.

1. Replace butter with vegetable-based alternatives

If you are baking, then swap out the butter with nonhydrogenated margarine or coconut, vegetable, or other high-heat but neutral-tasting oils. Use olive or peanut oil when cooking a savory meal in place of butter. It’s a simple replacement since it can be swapped out at a 1-to-1 ratio, so no pesky math is involved. Try our Vegan Chocolate Cake, which uses nonhydrogenated margarine instead of butter.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

2. When baking, swap out eggs with a “flax egg”

By whipping flax seeds with water, you get the same consistency as whisked eggs, and a similar reaction will occur in your baked goods as would if you were cooking with eggs. Check out Minimalist Baker’s tutorial on how to make a flax egg.
Photo and recipe from Minimalist Baker

3. Use nutritional yeast for a cheesy substitute

Want to make that delicious macaroni and cheese recipe but don’t want to spend a fortune on processed vegan cheese substitutes? Nutritional yeast has a similar nutty flavor and can create a creamy cheese substitute when mixed with the right ingredients. Try it in this Vegan Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

4. Replace honey with agave nectar

Agave nectar is derived from agave (the same plant that tequila is made of!) and has a similar texture as honey. The flavor is slightly different but it is still a sweetener that will work great in baked goods or your morning oatmeal. Try agave in Leite’s Culinaria’s Vegan Baklava recipe.
Photo and recipe from Leite’s Culinaria

5. Use mushrooms or eggplant in place of red meat

They both have a “meaty” texture and work great when topped with pasta sauce or sautéed in red wine to create a fancy vegan dinner. Try this Vegan Lasagna made with eggplant.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

6. Swap out cow’s milk with nut or soy milk

Almond, cashew, and soy milk are all cheap alternatives to dairy milk and work great in baking or cooking. When using them in your kitchen, make sure you purchase the “unsweetened” version so it doesn’t alter the flavor of your recipe. Brownies are just as decadent and delicious when made vegan!
Photo and recipe from CHOW

7. Replace dairy whipped cream with coconut whipped cream

Instead of using heavy cream to create a fluffy topping, you can use the fat from coconut milk to create an equally delicious and light topping. Check out Oh, Ladycakes’ tutorial on how to whip up your own.
Photo and recipe from Oh, Ladycakes

8. Make cashew cream to replace sour cream or yogurt in any recipe

There are vegan sour cream replacements you can purchase at the store, but oftentimes they’re full of preservatives and more expensive than the regular versions. Instead, we recommend you whip up your own cashew cream, which has a similar color and texture, by blending soaked cashews with water. Try Chocolate-Covered Katie’s tutorial to learn more about how to make your own.
Photo and recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie

9. Agar as a replacement for gelatin in any recipe

Agar is a staple in most vegan kitchens because it will create the jelly texture that gelatin is known for, without using any products derived from animals. Try out Healthfully Ever After’s Vegan Strawberry Shortcake.
Photo and recipe from Healthfully Ever After; header recipe and photo of Basic Vegetarian Chili from CHOW

Shelly Westerhausen is the founder of Vegetarian Ventures, a food blog that focuses on planet-based recipes and healthy eating habits. In her free time, you can find her rocking a wolf T-shirt, sipping on hibiscus tea, and working on her magazine, Driftless.

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