vegetarian chili
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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

vegan chocolate cupcake recipe

Chowhound

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 recipe, which uses nonhydrogenated margarine instead of butter , or our Vegan Chocolate Cupcake recipe, which contain non-dairy milk and canola oil. Or if you don’t have time for baking, try this Edible Vegan Peanut Butter Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough recipe, which is also gluten-free!

2. When Baking, Swap Out Eggs with a “Flax Egg” Substitute


By whipping flax seeds (or chia 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—and see other vegan egg substitutes if you’re fresh out of flax seeds (including an aquafaba option).

3. Use Nutritional Yeast for a Cheesy Substitute

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Coconut Milk and Nutritional Yeast

Chowhound

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. (You can even use it to make homemade vegan cheese for your next wine and cheese night!)

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4. Replace Honey with Agave Nectar

Turkish walnut baklava

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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.

5. Use Mushrooms or Eggplant in Place of Red Mea (And Jackfruit in Place of Pork or Chicken)

vegan lasagna

Chowhound

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 recipe made with eggplant. You can also try jackfruit for a vegan pulled pork that will fool even the biggest carnivores with the right sauce and seasoning. Of course, you can also venture into the world of processed meat substitutes, like seitan, tofu, or tempeh.

Related Reading: Our Favorite Fake Meat for Every Occasion

6. Swap Out Cow’s Milk with Nut or Soy Milk

how to use non-dairy milk (best uses for soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk, and coconut milk)

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Almond, cashew, and soy milk are all cheap alternatives to dairy milk and work great in baking or cooking. Don’t forget about rising superstar oat milk either. When using any of them in your kitchen, just make sure you purchase the “unsweetened” version so it doesn’t alter the flavor of your recipe. Vegan brownies are just as decadent and delicious when made with non-dairy milk—and they taste great with a cold glass of the same on the side!

Related Reading: How to Make Almond Milk in 2 Minutes Flat

7. Replace Dairy Whipped Cream with Coconut Whipped Cream

Dark Chocolate Avocado Mousse with Coconut Cream

Jeanine Donofrio

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 (and try using to top the luscious Vegan Chocolate Mousse recipe pictured above.)

8. Make Cashew Cream to Replace Sour Cream or Yogurt in Any Recipe

vegetarian chili

Chowhound

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 Cashew Cream recipe and tutorial to learn more about how to make your own (then dollop it on top of our Vegetarian Chili recipe).

Related Reading: 13 Delicious Vegan Sauces to Put on Everything

9. Use Agar as a Replacement for Gelatin in Any Recipe


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No-bake strawberry cake 🍰 it’s cashew-free and made with agar-agar, a vegan gelatine alternative. Have you experimented with agar-agar yet?⁣ ⁣ You can find the recipe below ⤵️🥰⁣ ⁣ ____⁣ ⁣ 𝑎𝑛𝑧𝑒𝑖𝑔𝑒. Das deutsche Rezept ist jetzt online auf dem Blog der @bkkprovita — in dem Blogpost ist auch ein Video enthalten, in dem ich meine 6 liebsten Gelatine-Alternativen vorstelle. Agar-Agar ist nur eins davon. Den Link packe ich euch in die Story. 📲⁣ ⁣ Der Kuchen ist soooo lecker geworden! 🍰 Liebe die Mandelstücke in dem süßen Boden und die Panna-Cotta-ähnliche Konsistenz der Erdbeer-Schicht. Bei mir war er in 2 Tagen aufgegessen. 😛 Viel Spaß beim Nachmachen! 🤗⁣ ⁣ ____⁣ ⁣ 𝐼 𝑁 𝐺 𝑅 𝐸 𝐷 𝐼 𝐸 𝑁 𝑇 𝑆:⁣ (for the crust)⁣ 50g oats ⁣ 70g blanched almonds⁣ 100g pitted dates⁣ 3 Tbs coconut flakes⁣ 1 Tbs coconut oil⁣ 1 Tbs water⁣ ⁣ (pink layer)⁣ 250g fresh strawberries⁣ 250g coconut milk⁣ 50g maple syrup⁣ 1 tsp beetroot powder⁣ 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder⁣ the juice of 1/2 lemon⁣ 1 Tbs starch (corn or any other)⁣ 1 tsp agar-agar⁣ ⁣ 𝐻 𝑂 𝑊 𝑇 𝑂:⁣ Blend all ingredients for the crust in a food processor until you get a crumbly texture. Spread in a Ø 20cm spring form and press 3cm up the walls. Store in the fridge.⁣ ⁣ Continue by blending strawberries, coconut milk, beetroot powder and maple syrup. Transfer to a small pot, turn stove on medium heat, then stir in agar-agar and starch. Whisk until it boils, continue whisking for 2-3 minutes. Then let the liquid cool down a bit. Pour on top of the crust. Place cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours or until it firms. Decorate and enjoy! 🍓🍰⁣ ⁣ ⁣

A post shared by 𝗟𝗔𝗨𝗥𝗔🦋food•travel•lifestyle (@laurafruitfairy) on

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 (instead of being derived from the usual bones, it’s made from red algae). Try out Healthfully Ever After’s Vegan Strawberry Shortcake recipe.

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For more inspiration, check out our favorite vegan cookbooks, the best store-bought vegan snacks, and some of the best YouTube cooking shows for vegans.

Related Video: How to Make Cultured Vegan Butter


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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