Delicious Vegan Alternatives to Satisfy Those Non-Vegan Cravings
Recently, I have found that eating a plant based diet is pretty easy on a day by day basis. I have my yummy plant based breakfast and lunch staples and lots of new and delicious dinner recipes. I usually find them on Pinterest. What has been a bit harder however. Is when I start to think about particularly well loved dishes that contain animal products.
Some of these are foods I don’t even eat that often. But occasionally cravings can be powerful. At the same time, I feel SO good eating a plant based diet. And, I know it’s better for the environment and animals.
So, in the last few months, I’ve challenged myself to find plant based versions of these comfort foods. And personally, I’m not content to just sort of satisfy the craving. I’m intent on finding substitutions that I like just as much as the originals. Here are some of the things I’ve found.
LOVE yogurt. Love. I used to eat Greek yogurt every single day. I have tried every brand out there (including a lackluster homemade attempt). For me the winner is So Delicious coconut yogurt. Which I particularly love with fruit and some homemade granola.
This depends on what I’m using it for. For “grilled cheese” or quesadillas, or on a sandwich or veggie burger. I use either hummus or avocado. On top of pasta, I make “Parmesan” by grinding pecans up finely with some salt. You can also add nutritional yeast, but I don’t personally like the flavor that much. So I omit it from most recipes, but most people seem to like it. I’ve also discovered the AMAZING “cheese” sauce (that is literally made from potatoes, carrots, and lemon juice) from Oh She Glows. I use on nachos, in enchiladas, and even as a sauce for mac and cheese. I just use the cheese sauce portion of the recipe (not the soup part), although the soup is great too!
I was never a huge meat fan, but sometimes I do crave chicken or the like. My favorites are:
Luncheon Meats: Tofurkey
Meatballs, Chicken Nuggets, Orange Chicken: Gardein or Trader Joe’s
Eggs: I have found that in almost all recipes (pancakes, baked goods, etc…) it works great to use a tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with two tablespoons of water in place of an egg. I also sometimes use a mashed banana, but that does give banana flavor to the dish. I have found that avocado works well as a fat where egg might have been yummy. For example, on a sandwich. Also, tofu crumbled and sauteed with lots of veggies makes a decent scrambled egg replacement. I’ve also heard you can use chickpea flour in place of eggs in frittatas, but I haven’t tried it yet.
I like this recipe:
Whipped Cream: So Delicious Brand yet again! I’ve tried making my own with coconut cream and with aquafaba, but I couldn’t get it to fluff up correctly, so I just go store bought for this, especially since I don’t use it often.
More Specific Recipes:
I’m Italian, so lasagna is a must. But how to do lasagna with no cheese? I know a lot of vegans just use vegan store bought cheese, but I personally am not a fan, so I’ve had to find other options. I have come up with three variations that are all great, in my opinion. The first is to make a simple roux (¼ cup whole wheat flour, ¼ cup Earth Balance, 3 cups almond milk, 1 t salt) and then use that along with tomato sauce and layer it with the cooked lasagna noodles. For a second variation, I mix my homemade pesto with the roux and omit the tomato sauce. For a third variation, I use tomato or red pepper sauce and “ricotta” made from chopped tofu and Italian herbs. (To any of these versions, it tastes great to add grilled or baked vegetables, or chopped soy meatballs or sausage). You can also top with any of the “cheese” sauces I mention in this article. Don’t forget to check out this Worlds Easiest Pasta Sauce Recipe!
Pesto: I LOVE pesto and I’ve started making a delicious vegan version. I blend in a food processor: a few cups basil leaves, 2 garlic cloves, lemon zest, ¼ cup pine nuts, and ¼ cup olive oil, plus salt to taste. If you don’t want to make your own pesto, you can always buy vegan pesto from Jet, the online market store.
Pizza: Often I just enjoy a good cheeseless pizza, even sometimes a delivery one, although I prefer to do homemade so that I can use a whole wheat crust. Sauce and lots of veggies is plenty yummy and I find that things with lots of flavor (artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, etc…) can make up for the lack of cheese. I did also discover an awesome cashew cheese that uses tapioca flour and actually is melty and stretchy. That works great as well and would also be awesome on the top of a lasagna. There are also some great frozen vegan pizzas on the market. We pick ours up from the local grocery store, and i’m sure there’s one near you also.
Enchiladas: I use whole wheat vegan tortillas, cooked sweet potato and beans on the inside, and a store bought vegan enchilada sauce. I top with sliced avocado or guacamole and sometimes the Oh She Glows “Cheese” sauce or the cashew “mozzarella” referenced above.
Tacos: I love this taco filling from Oh She Glows:
I also love this cauliflower filling, from Oh She Glows also.
Tuna: I use either soaked almonds or chickpeas and blend in the food processor, then I add a little vegan mayo, grated carrot, sliced celery, sliced grapes, salt, pepper, and sometimes other spices like turmeric or curry or cinnamon.
Mac and Cheese: Again, three good variations. For the first, I make a roux and add tofutti for a white mac and cheese. For the second, I use the Oh She Glows “Cheese” sauce. And, for the third, I use the butternut squash mac and cheese recipe. My kids absolutely LOVE this Store Bought Mac and Cheese though, and we find ourselves buying it for those days, when you just can’t anymore. ha.
Cake/baked Goods/Frosting: I like the good old one bowl vegan cake (uses vinegar instead of egg and butter):
Otherwise, I just sub flax for the egg, coconut oil or Earth Balance for the butter, and almond milk for the milk. (I do the same for cookies.) Then I just sub Earth Balance and almond milk for the butter and milk in the frosting. But, as I’m trying to overall eat healthy and not just vegan junk food, I try to use whole wheat flour and unrefined sugar, etc… This is a great recipe I found for a cake that uses cooked sweet potatoes in the cake AND the frosting. And, OMG, the frosting on its own tastes just like mousse. Not that I ate the frosting by the spoonful out of the bowl or anything….
I hope this helps anyone else who is dealing with those cravings and trying to find great ways to keep your stomach (and animals and the planet) happy and healthy. Don’t forget to check out the interview by Raise Vegan of the extremely popular Hot For Food Duo that are taking the vegan world by storm!
Jennifer Provenza is the author of Life Is But A Dream, a novel available on Amazon and Kindle, about a woman (and mom) who lives two different lives (in parallel universes). She also wrote and starred in the film, Princess Daisy, (available on Amazon Prime Video) about a struggling actor who resorts to working as a princess at children’s birthday parties. A writer, actor, and college professor, Jennifer lives in Sacramento with her two adorable girls, her adoring husband, and her fluffy black cat, Mrs. Sparkles. Check out her website at Jennifer Provenza