Vegan alternatives for your favourite ingredients, from cheese and eggs to hamburgers

If you’re trying to cut down on your meat intake, here are five plant-based substitutes for animal products that can ease the process

Doris Wai |

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Definitely not a 'ham' burger, but this Portobello and avocado alternative is just as delicious.

Becoming vegan or even just eating less meat can seem like a real challenge for those who are thinking of cutting down on animal products, especially if you’re a real meat lover. But it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all your favourite foods for bland plant-based versions.

Here are some popular animal-based foods and their equally, if not more delicious, plant-derived alternatives.

Instead of cheese … try nutritional yeast

Don’t be intimidated by its name. Nutritional yeast is similar to the regular yeast used to make bread, except that it is inactive (and can’t make dough rise). It is grown on molasses – a type of sugar – and has a nice cheesy, nutty taste. You can use it as a condiment, sprinkle it over salads, popcorn, soups or any type of food that needs a touch of cheesy goodness.

Instead of meat … try tofu and Portobello mushrooms

Tofu is a staple in many Asian cuisines and a popular meat substitute. While quite bland on its own, tofu is incredibly versatile and takes on the flavours of other ingredients in a dish. It makes the perfect swap-out for chicken. You can also crumble tofu to make a delicious Bolognese sauce for your pasta.

If you’re looking to sink your teeth into something with a bit more bite, Portobello mushrooms are the way to go. Grill them whole to make excellent mushroom steaks and burgers: they’re tender and juicy and oh-so-delicious.

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Instead of cream and butter … try avocados

There’s no question avocado toast is a breakfast favourite and it’s easy to see why. But the fruit is not just for spreading on toast or topping salads. Avocado has a velvety, buttery taste and can be used to replace a lot of dairy-based ingredients. It can also serve as a substitute for cream in pasta sauces, and can be mashed and added to baked goods such as brownies. You can also simply blend it into a yummy smoothie.

Instead of egg white … try aquafaba, chia seeds and flax seeds

Don’t throw away the liquid in your can of chickpeas! The yellowish murky-looking water – aquafaba – can be used to replace egg whites, and can be whipped into meringue or used for mousse recipes.

You can also substitute egg whites with flax and chia seeds. They are great replacements for eggs because they absorb water and swell up to form a jelly-like outer layer that has a similar texture to egg white. Simply soak them in water until they take on a goopy texture, and add them to your baked goods.

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Instead of cow’s milk … try other plant-based milk

Non-dairy milk has been around for a while now, and with so many different types to choose from – soy, nut, coconut, rice, oat, and even pea – there’s something for everyone.

While some people, for exampl those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to cow’s milk, have no choice but to drink these alternatives, they aren’t necessarily all good for you. Also, they might not all have the rich, creamy taste of cow’s milk. Coconut milk for example, has a thinner consistency than cow’s; but while some may have a hard time gulping it from a glass, it is perfect for making oatmeal, smoothies and pancakes. 

Regardless, when choosing your plant-based milk, be sure to avoid those with added sugars and additives.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda