A Brief Installment Of Plant Based Food Reviews
Posted on January 20, 2021 Posted by Athena Scalzi 69 Comments
As some of you may know, I used to be a vegetarian. In fact, I was a very strict vegetarian for about five years before I stopped on my eighteenth birthday. I don’t know why I stopped; some part of me just got bored of it, I guess. I just was tired of putting in effort. But now that it’s been a few years, my morals are reinvigorated and I feel ready to make a new change!
Lately, I’ve been thinking of being vegan. Maybe not completely cold turkey style, like I did when I became a vegetarian. But I would definitely like to cut down on my animal product consumption, if not cut it out of my diet completely.
One of the main problems for me, though, is that I don’t particularly like any substitutes for the real things. When I was vegetarian, I rarely ate fake meat, because I didn’t especially like it. Sure, there are some fake chicken nuggets or sausages here and there that taste alright, but to me it wasn’t really worth it go through all the trouble of eating fake meat when I could just, not. I was totally fine with that.
With milk, it’s a different story. I love milk, whole milk especially, and don’t even get me started on chocolate milk! In my pursuits as a vegetarian, I dabbled with the idea of being vegan, so I tried some milk alternatives. I hated all of them. Soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, coconut milk, I couldn’t stand to drink any of them, or even use them in cereal. I even tried chocolate soy milk and I still didn’t like it. Even when I got the sweetened or vanilla versions of these milk substitutes, they just didn’t cut it.
That being said, in my newest pursuit for veganism, I decided to give milk alternatives a shot again. There had to be at least one I could tolerate, right?
Well, the other day, I happened across an ad for a new almond milk, Simply Almond. I had had the Simply brand of beverages many a time before; their orange juice, apple juice, lemonade, watermelon juice, etc. So to see them make a milk of some kind really threw me off.
I was skeptical to try it, but I picked up one of the vanilla ones anyway, which looks like this:
I’m not kidding when I say this is the best plant based milk I have ever had. Not only do I tolerate it, I actually really enjoy it! This almond milk is very good, and I can absolutely see myself making the switch from regular milk easily. It’s perfectly sweetened, creamy, and doesn’t taste significantly off like all others I’ve tried. I really recommend giving this a shot if you have been a milk-alternative hater for years, like me. This is the shining beacon in a world of dark fake milks.
While I was at the store picking this up, I also thought about how I would never be able to give up eggs. Even when I was vegetarian, I ate them, because I didn’t really count them as meat. I seriously love eggs, cooked in any style. Scrambled, omelet, fried, poached, deviled, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, they’re all amazing! They’re so cheap and easy and you can do so much with them.
Clearly, I was dreading giving them up. That’s when I saw this egg substitute.
JUST Egg. The packaging looked appealing to me, so I decided to give it a try, as well. And I was very pleasantly surprised! These cooked exactly like regular scrambled eggs, as evidenced here:
Tell me those don’t look like some regular ol’ scrambled eggs (yeah, I might’ve overcooked them, but I do that with regular scrambled eggs, too (I fear salmonella!)). Not only do they cook like and look like the real thing, but they taste like it, too! Sure, there’s a little bit of a difference, but it’s not even in a bad way, like these honestly taste really good!
While I definitely feel like I could absolutely make the switch from regular eggs to this alternative, it is a bummer to me that you can pretty much only make scrambled eggs with it. It comes as a liquid that you pour into a skillet, and you can scramble it or make it into an omelet. While that’s great and all, you could never make something like poached or deviled eggs with this, which are like my two favorite kinds.
When it comes to veganism, I worry about baked goods a lot. How can you make delicious baked goods without milk and eggs? Most milk alternatives are too thin to replace milk in recipes efficiently, and I didn’t even know about egg alternatives until the other day. Thankfully, both of these brands’ websites have a recipes page. While the Simply one doesn’t have any recipes for their milk alternatives yet, I would imagine they will soon, since their almond milk pretty much just launched. So I’ll check back with that later. However, the JUST one has many a recipe showing you ways to use their product, including oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!
So, yeah, I’m really glad I found these two products. I was very skeptical of both of them, but they turned out to be amazing, and I know if I do decide to go vegan, or at least cut down on animal products, these will both be essential parts of that.
Have you tried either of these? Are there any milk/meat/ice cream alternative brands you’ll swear by that I should check out? Let me know in the comments, and as always, have a great day!
Not a vegan, but I live in California where a lot of people are (and it’s easy to get good vegan food), so, thoughts:
Beyond Burgers are really tasty!
Vegan baked goods are vegan eating on easy mode. There are some things where it’s hard to substitute for butter or eggs, but most of the time it works. Oddly, there are many Depression/WWII-era recipes (when butter, eggs and milk were hard to get) that work just fine for vegans.
There are so many more resources now for people who want to cook vegan without having to stock up on special one-shot ingredients or find specialty stores. I like Veganomicon a lot for this, and meal kit plans like Hungryroot have vegan options if you do not feel like doing a whole cook from scratch deal.
I’m not a vegetarian, though I’m married to one and the father of another. We eat eggs, because neither my wife nor daughter are vegan, and milk isn’t a problem for either of them, either–they object to killing an animal for food, but milk and eggs are fine with them.
As a meat-eater, I find most meat substitutes pointless and lacking in flavor. But there are a few I actually really like. The first is Quorn, which is a mycoprotein. It has the same feel as eating chicken or turkey, and while it doesn’t taste like those things, it’s close enough that I actually find it tasty. Sadly, Quorn is still only available in the US in a couple of forms, whereas in the UK they have way more varieties, such as Quorn Bangers. Our Christmas dinner is often a Quorn Roast with veggies and vegetarian gravy.
The second I like is the brands “Beyond Beef” and “Impossible Burger,” both of which sell a ground beef substitute that again, isn’t EXACTLY like beef, but it close enough. We’ve made burgers, spaghetti sauce, and chili with it. The chili didn’t work so well, because it has to simmer longer than the Beyond Beef can handle, but it worked fine in spaghetti sauce and as burgers.
You might be interested in making “wacky cake”. It’s a WW2-era recipe that calls for vinegar but no eggs or milk.
I like Oatly oat milk for most substitutions, but it doesn’t have much protein, so I mix it with Silk Soymilk. Chiba I oat milk is pretty good too. I have always been vegetarian, but moved to being vegan about 2 years ago. The dairy addiction is hard to kick. Being Indian dairy is part of every meal. I still don’t have the best yogurt but I make do with Soy plain yogurt. I really miss my plain Greek yogurt.
Oh I forgot. I live near a really, really good vegan bakery Papa Ganache. They make excellent cakes and cupcakes and cookies, Too bad that is great for me, but I swear no one can tell that they are vegan (and sometimes vegan + gluten free).
Portobello mushroom caps make a good substitute for hamburger patties. If you slice them into bite-sized pieces, you can also use them in things like stir-fry and beef stroganoff–they really do taste like beefsteak.
I can drink a half-gallon carton of the Dark Chocolate Silk almond milk in a single sitting. I’ll regret it bitterly when my tummy cramps up, but I’ll enjoy every minute of the crime. I’m mostly ambivalent to the rest of the products I’ve tried. If it tastes good, I might remember that and buy it again, but I’m a lazy activist.
I have been trending pescatarian for a bit as of late as I cut my carb intake way down and am looking for ways to regulate my fat intake as a result. Tuesdays are still “steak” days, though.
Those “eggs” look pretty realistic, although I’ve found a lot of egg substitutes that do a good job of it so long as you’re eating them scrambled. I like them easy, runny eggs though. And there is no substitute for that.
I think if there is any moral issue with eggs, it would be with how the hens might be treated, and what they might do with the males that are hatched. Given your location, i would think you could find a farmer or farmers market that sells eggs that have some moral standing.
Or, get a coop and half a dozen hens and go crazy raising your own.
I have wheat, dairy, and egg allergies and have dealt with them for something like 30 years.
Eggs–we don’t use the liquid substitute but a powdered version called Vegan Egg. It works nicely in cooking and makes nice omelettes or scrambled eggs.
There really aren’t any substitutes that can do poached or deviled eggs, alas. I really miss them.
I’ve found that coconut-based milks and ice creams work nicely. But I’ve yet to find a decent yogurt that isn’t sugary as heck (and yes, I’ve tried a LOT of them) and I really, really miss cottage cheese.
Cheese…ah, that’s where things fall apart. I am eating sheep and goat cheese because they don’t trigger my allergies. Most fake cheese really sucks, in my opinion.
Plant-based mayonnaise works very nicely, no matter what the brand.
No idea about meat substitutes because enough of them have wheat in them (my allergy is specifically to wheat and not gluten, it’s respiratory, not gut) that I’m skittish. I do like tempeh and extra-firm tofu, though. Soft tofu…ick.
While not favoring any particular variety of plant based products, it does pay to do some research on the pro’s and con’s of each type. In particular, almond production requires a lot of water and environmentally may not be the best choice. (Most almonds are harvested in California which has perennial water shortages)
Athena, I don’t know your reasoning behind being vegan but if reducing your carbon footprint is one of them, local sourcing can be even better than veganism in terms of small footprint. Finding a local farmer who treats their hens well might be worth doing a bit of research, and you can still enjoy your eggs while also supporting a small business! Milk is more complicated because few dairy farmers can run on a small business model, but given your specific state/area you might have some luck with that as well.
When the pandemic started and eggs were in short supply, I was substituting ground flax seeds/water in for eggs in cookies and other baked goods, which worked fine.
I like Morningstar farms buffalo chik’n patties, but I agree fake meat is blah.
I find milk gross, so I just avoid anything milk-related, so I have no suggestion. Vegan baked goods can be tasty. There are some talented bakers out there. Prune butter is delish, but I really dig prunes, so YMMV.
I’m lucky that my desire to be vegan complements my disgust at meat products. Don’t even get me started on eggs. Ick. I do recommend Just Mayo, or whatever they end up having to call it. Pea protein. It’s yummy.
Recommending a cookbook with a lot of excellent advice, check out Vegan With Bite by Shannon Martinez.
We keep follow your heart veganaise and tofutti cream cheese as staples. It’s been too many decades since I had the dairy versions for me to compare, but they are delish. I’m a fan of the Ripple pea-protein based milks, as well.
Field Roast Vegetarian Sausages are quite good, in my opinion. You can use them for pretty much anything you’d do with a meat-based sausage. I don’t have food allergies to worry about, but I’m pretty sure they’re grain-based, if that’s an issue.
I have been a vegan for a little more than 15 years, so I have a lot of experience in trying vegan “substitutes.” They have gotten a lot better over the last couple of years as companies jump on the vegan gravy train.
I am a big fan of JUST Egg; I love making omelets from it using sautéed onion and green pepper, and maybe some vegan cheese, all topped off with salsa. I have not encountered the Simply brand of Almond milk but love their lemonade; I will look for it the next time I go shopping.
Beyond Burger and Impossible Burger are both great. Kroger makes a good Simple Truth breakfast sausage, and that brand’s ground beef substitute makes for a suitable meatless meatloaf base.
If, like me, you miss ice cream, substitutes have gotten better. Ben and Jerry make some really good vegan ice creams, and the Magnum vegan chocolate-covered ice cream bars are great. Still looking for a good cheese substitute; most I have tried are average at best, though some do go pretty well in making omelets from JUST Egg.
A lot of good vegan chocolate and cookies can be found with some searching, though I have yet to discover a vegan version of the nonvegan food I miss most: Snickers candy bar.
I live really close to the Scalzi clan, in neighboring Shelby County in west-central Ohio, and we probably have shopped in the same Piqua and Troy stores pre-pandemic. All of these products are easily found even in our rural region.
Becoming a vegan is possible for just about everyone. I do not miss real meat. I just wish a vegan Snickers bar was widely available.
My brother has been vegan for years and the options and meat substitutes have come so far in that time that its crazy. (Granted we live in Austin, not rural Ohio) That said, as other folks are saying, both Beyond Meat and Impossible (Meat?) are solid. Since my brother moved in with me, I’ve started subbing applesauce for eggs when I bake and its honestly worked great (although I am a fairly questionable baker with low standards). Also constantly eyeing my friends with chickens because our household’s concerns are ethics & carbon footprint based, but stealing eggs has from folks has been hard during COVID.
I don’t think I’ll ever make it to full vegan, but I’m definitely trying to go more plant based and I’m planning on doing a month or so fully vegan this year so that I can build better habits and find alternatives that I like.
I’ll second the recommendation for Veganomicon! I really enjoy Isa Chandra Moskovitz’s dishes and her writing style as well. Check out her book Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, too. Delicious!
I am not vegan, but I like to lower my animal intake for environmental and health reasons. I skip most meat substitutes entirely. Old-fashioned protein complementarity – where you eat beans and grains in combinations in a meal to cover all the essential amino acids – leaves me as satisfied after a meal as animal-based proteins do. Leafy greens and nuts help, too. I don’t like highly processed foods over too long a stretch, and artificial meats are highly processed.
I use Silk unsweetened soy milk a lot. It took some time to work up to it, starting with sweetened versions. Now it tastes good to me. I find plant milks with less than 6 grams of protein per cup don’t settle me the way soy milk does. Now flax milk has pretty high protein, too.
It helps with beans and grains and vegetables to transition to them gently. Everyone feels best on a different diet – some might thrive on lots of fruit, some on lots of grains, some absolutely not. So my diet is mostly about feeling into what leaves me more satisfied and energetic, and it changes over time.
Good luck, Athena! I wish you delicious meals that satisfy your hunger and your principles.
I’m not vegan or vegetarian “officially” but I very very rarely eat meat (basically only if I am eating at some one else’s house and i don’t want to inconvenience them), and enjoy lots of vegan food. I’m not sure how it is where you live but in the UK its amazing how many products have come out even in the last 3 years, which cater to vegans, and don’t suck!
I tend to try and avoid pre packaged processed food as much as possible (and unfortunately lots of the vegan options you get in the supermarket are quite processed). I would suggest maybe getting some vegan cookbooks and see how you get on with those. There are loads of really great recipes, that are more focused on just being their own thing rather than a “substitute”.
Obviously cooking from scratch for every meal takes up more time. But the great thing about lots of vegan/ vegi food is you can batch cook and then freeze….. so you really only have to reheat when you want to eat food quickly.
I’m really keen on baking, and your right, there are just some things that are a bit crap when you don’t use butter and eggs! But again i would suggest looking for vegan recipes that arnt doing substitutes, they are just being their own thing. There are loads of fantastic options, that give you the sweet fix, but aren’t your traditional baked options.
Finally, you probably know from your time as a vegetarian but if you are vegan you need to put a bit of thought in to making sure you get all the nutrients your body needs….. it would seem like being vegan would be a healthy option by default, but its totally possible to be an unhealthy vegan!
Good Luck with it all!
Not a [insert any diet] but what I am is allergic to everything, milk and soy especially. I tried to go vegetarian some years ago but without being able to supplement as much due to allergies, and having an iron deficiency, it was hard to create a healthy diet for me. However, due to all my dietary restrictions and vegan friends I have found some great vegan/vegetarian tips and meals.
First, baking with fruit and vegetables rather than dairy. If you’re looking to bake without dairy avocados are a great substitute. I make moist chocolate brownies with avacados rather than butter and eggs. Bananas can also be used to this end.
Second, oat milk and soy have limited caloric value. I drank a lot of whole milk before my stomach lost the ability to digest milk so it was hard for me to find a high caloric drink to substitute. I love the taste of oat milk but there’s just not a lot going on there when compared to milk, nut milk, or hemp/seed based milks. My gold standard has become coconut milk. Coconut milk is high in healthy fats and can be as healthy and satisfying as a glass of whole milk after a work-out. Plus it makes great ice cream and has enough fat even to make whipped cream.
Third, oils caloric value and tempature differences. Peanut oil is my go too because it’s high in healthy fats but nut based oils generally have a lower maximum frying tempatre than seed based oils like olive, sunflower, and apricot(which is also high in calories and healthy fats). The oils also add totally different flavors to recipies. I love a flour tortilla fried with peanut oil.
I’m really thankful for vegan products for all the options they provide as additives and alternatives for us with allergies. ^_^
I don’t know how they do it, but there’s a vegan restaurant here in Syracuse (Stronghearts cafe) that has both baked goods and milkshakes that are delicious, and I can’t tell the difference between them and the equivalents that use animal products. So, yes, it’s possible to enjoy those things as a vegan.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been baking for years with Egg Beaters (basically egg whites). I also substitute “light tasting” olive oil for butter wherever that’s called for. I’ve used this combination in gingerbread, pies, many kinds of cookies, cornbread, and other recipes without a problem, and guests have complimented me on the resulting dishes. Of course this is not a true vegan solution, but it’s at least somewhat more healthful than using eggs and butter.
My household is, like, part-time vegetarian, and my amateur chef husband has found some good recipes over the years. I think we also have Veganomicon, and there’s one more that I’ll have to check when I get home because I can’t for the life of me remember the title right now.
We discovered the flax meal substitute for eggs in baked goods when we needed to be able to include kids with egg allergies and I can confirm that it works great. I cannot tell the difference, AND it means you can eat the batter before it’s baked!
I’m not vegetarian/vegan, but I know a lot of people who are, so I’ve always kept an eye out for good vegan baked goods. This recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles in particular is delicious and I highly recommend it:
I’m not a vegetarian but I am an avid cook, and IMO the best way to eat good veggie/vegan food is to get up to speed on Indian and Asian cooking (the latter is broad, but I’m thinking Japanese, Indonesian tempah, Buddist temple foods, etc.). Elizabeth Andoh’s Kansha cookbook is a perfect example of a varied, vegan Japanese selection.
While I’m not (and can’t be) vegan, I do have a lot of experience cooking for food allergies, which sometimes has the same effect– if one is regularly cooking for a partner with cow-dairy and egg allergies, baked goods wind up being vegan anyway. So, some baking tips!
To make one egg:
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons liquid (I usually use almond milk or rice milk)
Mix in a separate bowl, let sit for a minute, and add to your baked good whenever you were supposed to add the eggs. It works for enriched breads and cakes and cookies. I’ve never tried it for something like choux pastry but I suspect it wouldn’t work in that. At some point I really am going to devote effort to working out the perfect vegan choux pastry (without using aquafaba, which I can’t have).
Earth Balance is my favorite non-dairy butter. And also my favorite eggless mayo.
(Just Egg, alas, is not any more edible for me than eggs, being bean-based…)
I dislike fake food and highly processed food, so even though an impossible or beyond burger with all the trimmings equal hamburgers to my taste buds, I’m more likely to opt for a portobello burger.
For vegan baking, Earth Balance for butter- I did my Christmas cookies with that and it was great. I usually use powdered egg substitute when baking using old recipes. But it’s better to find “vegan from the beginning “ recipes than adapting old ones, I think.
But ice cream is likely to be my last bastion of animal products. None of the bought ones work for me. I’ve made some recipes that feature raw cashews, and it’s not a bad thing, but it’s not ice cream.
Not really a milk substitute, but soy bean milk – not soy milk – is the taste of almost every Asian childhood.
I’ve been vegetarian or pescatarian since 1974. Mostly I eat things that are innately meat free. I’m also allergic to lettuce, which can make eating out complicated.
I don’t drink milk as beverage, don’t put milk on dry cereal. I don’t care for beef and especially not hamburgers, and don’t want substitutes that taste like meat. I hate bacon, even the smell makes me I’ll.
I do like LightLife Smart dogs. They don’t taste like hotdogs, but are their own thing.
Someone mentioned the dark chocolate almond milk, once in a while I get a carton and divide it into small containers and freeze, which makes a nice chocolate freeze. Not ice cream, but has a nice texture of its own.
I like eggs, but don’t eat them that often.
I would have a hard time giving up cheese, I love it and none of the substitutes taste right.
I didn’t eat fish or seafood for decades but now have it a couple of times a month.
Cookbooks I use include:
The Vegetarian Epicure & VE 2 by Anna Thomas – both are available used pretty cheaply- I wore mine out.
World of the East by Madhur Jaffrey. She has a new one called World Vegetarian but I don’t own a copy yet.
Moosewood has many good cookbooks. I probably use Still Life With Menu by Mollie Katzen the most.
My favorite Indian cookbook is The Art of Indian Cuisine by Sen Gupta, I’ve used it so much I wore out the hardcover. I bought a new one but find myself still using the old falling apart one with all the notes.
Flax milk (“Good Karma” brand) proved popular at our house.
The spicy Beyond Sausage has become a favorite ingredient in our house.
I hear you about the baked goods and vegan lifestyle. Good news though! One of the best chocolate chip cookie recipes I have ever had is vegan. Not just the best vegan recipe, but the best all around chocolate chip cookie. link here: https://food52.com/blog/14647-plot-twist-the-most-genius-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe-is-also-vegan
The Veganomicon can be useful, but one caution. No, not that reading it will call forth the Old Ones (everybody already knows that). It’s that less-experienced cooks find its “charming” style of recipe-writing extremely difficult to adapt to, especially if they’re in a limited kitchen. You’d be appalled at the difference it makes in cooking, say, the Autumn Latkes, to be stuck doing it on an apartment electric stove (or, indeed, any electric stove) as opposed to the high-end gas range that was obviously used to develop the recipes. That’s just one excrutiatingly obvious example (that is, it’s excruciatingly obvious to a restaurant-trained cook).
The less said about quantities in the Veganomicon, the better. But that’s generally true for any cookbook (as opposed to baking guide): There’s so much more variance in non-baking ingredients that chemlab precision is unnecessary (especially when — ok, look away, vegetarians — you’re cooking animal that has been “injected with up to x% of a solution”).
I’ve eaten a vegan diet intermittently over the last few years and there are a couple of cookbooks I highly recommend:
* Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskovitz. It’s much less reliant on fake meats than some of her other cookbooks and has lots of simple, tasty, and filling vegetable recipes. Both my wife and I love it.
* One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson. Another fun and easy vegan cookbook that skips the fake meats and focuses on beans, grains, and vegetables.
* Vegan for Everybody by America’s Test Kitchen. A good general-purpose cookbook that just happens to be vegan.
You can make good egg substitute for baking with ground flax seeds and there’s also a powdered egg substitute from Bob’s Red Mill iirc. There are lots of vegan cake and cookie recipes online or in vegan cookbooks. Very helpful for those of us allergic to eggs and dairy.
Did anyone see that a vegan restaurant in France was awarded a Michelin star? It’s called ONA (origin non-animal, in French). It’s the first time a French vegan restaurant has gotten a star.
Personally, as an omnivore, I’ve found the plant-based proteins I like best are the ones that are mimicking chopped meats, like sausage or ground beef. As someone who’s always been lightly squicked out by some kinds of sausage (looking at you, chicken sausage), I’ve found Field Roast sausages (and lunch meats) to be great. Since quarantine started my spouse and I have added Moringstar Farms breakfast patties to our breakfast routine (spouse used to eat them at the work cafeteria) and have even added tofu (that we drown in butter chicken sauce, so it’s not even slightly vegan, but it’s good!).
We moved from Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken to the Orange chick’n a while back because it’s a better size. I like Impossible’s “ground beef” better than Beyond (there’s a smell thing I can’t get past), but be aware that the Impossible is already salted, so if you’re using it for taco filling or something, cut way back on the salt you add.
When someone finally cracks really good animal-free cheese I’ll be ready to switch, but until then I’ll stick with cutting back (and trading slugs for eggs from my friend’s chickens).
Thank you for your post, Athena. I’m very interested in this myself, mainly for more healthy eating.
I can also attest to Impossible burgers being really good. My wife ordered one when we went out to eat once and I am often willing to try her vegetarian burgers, but they always tasted vegetarian, until this one. It looked like meat. It bled like meat. It tasted like meat, just a little less juicy. I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t meat if you didn’t tell me and I”m VERY picky. I’m not sure how healthy it is, but it is darn good.
I would agree with the fake cheese comment. They aren’t very good, and it is really noticeable. At least that is true of all the ones I have tried and I have tried many.
I’m not sure why you want to be vegan, but if it is to be healthier, you’ll want to be careful. A lot of vegan options aren’t very healthy at all. Many are highly processed. This surprised me. I always assumed vegans were ultra-healthy. Some are. Some aren’t.
I like the Kirkland Almond milk. It isn’t as creamy as I would like, but it is cheap and works for our homemade cereal we like. I”ll have to try your brand and see what it is like. Almond milk is one of the best alternative “milks” because almonds are far less processed than what many of the others are based on. In other words, they haven’t been genetically messed with as much.
A lot of the posts people made here have some great advice too. Thank you all for that!
I hope you will make more posts like this on your vegan journey, Athena. I’m very interested in this as part of a healthy eating regimen and for weight loss.
I have been vegetarian for 25 years, some of my family for longer, and two of my grown kids are vegan. It is possible to bake cookies without any eggs or egg substitute at all, and I have successfully subbed soft tofu for eggs in some of my cookie and cake recipes to veganize them. I highly recommend the blog http://www.itdoesnttastelikechicken.com for a wide range of vegan recipes, including cheeses. I LOVE that website and have made some of the seitan recipes many times, the vegan seitan burger recipe is surprisingly good. There’s a plethora of other websites out there as well. And thanks for the tip about JUST Egg, gonna look for that. P.S.–I live in Darke County too😉
The SO is semi-vegetarian, but can’t have soy. He likes some of the Field Roast stuff (which I can’t have, because gluten), and the Beyond Burgers and sausage. He also likes cooked lentils in lieu of taco meat (which my special needs son has also decided is great, and a good alternative to his brother’s ground turkey/vegetable mix – which is also good for my other son, he doesn’t otherwise eat vegetables).
Vegetarian-but-not-vegan here. I’ve tried Beyond and Impossible, and they’re … fine … but I actually find I prefer Boca Burgers. (Microwave 50 seconds, flip, repeat, slap onto toast and cheese slice, enjoy.) I also liked the Morningstar Farms sandwich patty Burger King used to carry before they added the Impossible Whopper. But I went vegetarian back in the 90s because I realized that meat was just kind of there for me anyway.
Today I discovered that, although I like several Gardein products, their breakfast patty is nowhere near as good as the one by Morningstar Farms to me.
I second the recommendation of Quorn. I quite like their pesto-and-mozzarella cutlet, and the roast works well as a vaguely-roast-beast-to-go-with-side-dishes item.
Vegan mayonnaise is pretty solid. Last time I checked, vegan cheese was dire (but I’m a Cabot Seriously Sharp fan, so it would be a challenge regardless).
I can’t give any advice in terms of cooking or baking, because I Do Not Cook. I’ll scramble eggs, so now I’m curious to try out the JUST. As for milk, while the Simply almond milk looks tempting, I have environmental concerns about almonds, so I just go with “grassfed” cow milks and hope the labels actually mean something. I agree that the reason for “why vegan” or “why vegetarian” really influences a lot of these decisions.
Wonderful to see all the interest in vegan products! I’ve been vegan around 17 years and my advice to anyone working on a vegan diet is: (a) swap one meal or ingredient and a time, and (b) join a local vegan group for recipes, tips, support, and events. (Obviously events would be post-COVID.)
Vegan.com has a wealth of information, FAQs, etc.
On the subject of milks, especially, we love oat, and for some uses (not coffee) flax.
Almond was meh UNTIL we were in a restaurant where the chef made fresh, home-made almond milk right in front of us. It was a revelation.
Aforementioned special needs son also likes the Morningstar Farms “falafel” burger, possibly because he can fix it himself, and it also isn’t soy (we’re not yet sure if he’s sensitive to soy like his dad, and don’t really want to find out the hard way).
With fake milk and fake eggs, you can probably make a decent quiche! It won’t be like having whole yolks to dip toast in, but it’ll be an alternative to scrambled.
My family prefers vegannaise to the other brands of mayonnaise. We like follow your heart vegan eggs much more than the just eggs. Daiya and violife and Kite Hill (soft cheese) each make fake cheeses that we enjoy (all very different from each other). The ice cream possibilities are endless, but nationwide, the Ben and Jerry’s almond-based ones are available and quite good. I hope you find a few alternatives that work for you and support you in whatever food choices you make now and in the future.
I have been vegan, and gluten-free, and soy-free, and nut-free (allergies!) for many years. I don’t miss meat—vegetarian was my choice, and the fake meats usually contain stuff I can’t eat. I do eat a little fake cheese; there are some I can eat and they’re pretty good.
As far as baked goods, I have been doing most of my own baking for a while. Egg subbing is easy: flax seed, applesauce, chickpea water (you can make meringue out of chickpea water!). They all work. I use either coconut or oat milk, depending on the recipe. It has not been difficult at all.
If you go online and search for something specific (vegan chocolate cake), easily 50 recipes immediately pop up. Just choose the one that you have the ingredients for and bake!
Oh? We’re doing cookbooks? If you can get the Sticky Fingers Vegan Sweets (DC-based cafe that won cupcake wars a couple of times), their cookies are easy to make and quite rewarding.
For baking, I don’t have milk/butter subs necessarily, but there are a TON of egg substitution options. Applesauce, mashed banana, mashed avocado, the liquid from canned chickpeas (aka aquafaba)
Not a vegan / vegetarian, but I’ve had frozen mashed / pureed banana, with and without mix-ins like cocoa-powder. It’s a pretty decent substitute for ice-cream. :)
I’ve been lacto-ovo for 30+ years, like to cook, went to school in Ithaca (Moosewood! And Cabbagetown!) and Berkeley so I’ve been eating hippie chow for almost 50 years. Not vegan, but I have tried cutting out milk and eggs for allergy reasons before deciding it didn’t matter much, though drinking an actual glass of milk is something I almost never do, in spite of cooking with it a lot and using it on granola.
My reaction to Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger is that Impossible is a better imitation of cheaper meat, while Beyond is a less good imitation of better meat. But I’ll happily eat Boca burgers if they’re what’s around, prefer the fake-chicken. I generally like Tofurkey’s fake Italian sausage and anybody’s fake Mexican chorizo, which goes especially well mixed with refried beans. A far-faker fake meat gets sold at the nearby Vietnamese market as “beef slice” – it’s a dry toast-textured soy stuff, and also comes in more of a kibble shape. It’s something you dump into stews, chilis, and soups, and even my meat-eating wife likes it, though it doesn’t try to be meat-textured.
But most of the time I don’t bother with fake meats; I like beans that are just trying to be beans, though cheese helps a lot, and I like hot peppers in all forms. And rice – there are so many different rices. And pasta, of course. I haven’t found a vegan cheese that I care for.
I don’t like sweet soy milks (oat milk does ok), but a local northeastern Chinese restaurant does a hot soy milk with chili oil and green onions and fried bread chunks that I can eat any time there isn’t a pandemic around, and should learn to make for myself. Simply Lemonade is also my wife’s preferred lemonade, so it’ll be interesting to try their almond milk. For cooking curries and similar things, canned coconut milk works pretty well (and if you can get Thai curry paste, it’s good stuff.)
What’s wrong with being a lacto-ovo vegetarian like you used to be? That way you can still have milk and eggs….
I have a friend who really wants me to stop using nut milks (almond, cashew, etc.) I like unsweetened Silk cashew milk quite a bit more than almond.
The reason they are “bad”? Increasing numbers of nut plantations have caused lots of deforestation (which accelerates climate change).
The people who choose oat milk really are dedicated.
You can find so many great vegan recipes hete: https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/03/vegan-experience-kenji-reflections.html
not being from where you are, most of my replacement suggestions won’t make any sense. but, this guy https://www.youtube.com/user/TheFightingSolo makes some amazing plant based food
This was an interesting post! I’ve been not-exactly-vegan for 20 years now, and one interesting thing I noticed pretty early was that dairy milk started tasting bad – and the taste of eggs in baked stuff became overwhelming. Can’t really recommend brands being half a world away and having no idea which brands you have there. In here, there was a sudden shift some maybe three years ago when every small store in every small village around the country started offering at least some vegan products, and we got some innovative new stuff available (‘pulled oats’ for example).
One point about fake meats, fake milks etc – I’ve never really found those things necessary, myself. Why would I like to pretend eating animal products when I’m not? On the other hand, certain meat products do have cultural value. For instance, I used to have many friends that were die-hard vegans – except for grilling a sausage on a stick by campfire, because that was something they’ve done since they were small children. And once you started getting fake meat sausages that actually didn’t disintegrate when you put them on a stick, that really had its place.
I’m neither a vegetarian nor a vegan, but my housemates and me have have started gravitating towards less meat. All of us really grew fond of the „peace burger“, Burger patties made out of peas. They don’t taste very meatlike, but I don’t think they’re supposed to. Make for some really good burger patties!
I have no idea how this tastes* but it does look clever: https://www.mouthwateringvegan.com/2015/04/22/the-ultimate-genius-vegan-eggs/
*I live in a small village, where I can wave at the chickens that lay my eggs, when I pass their back yard.
Most baked good are pretty easy going vegan. There are tons of recipes online. First you need an egg substitute like Ener G Egg Replacer. It doesn’t work in all recipes, notably brownies. And then get vegan margerine like earth balance. My son is the head baker in a vegan bakery. When I serve his baked goods, no one knows they are vegan. Research recipes and experiment. I have successfully baked the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the Nestle bag with these substitutions. No one knows the difference. And a lot of other recipes.
My sister went full vegan years ago. Me, I am content with just cutting back on meats. I’m not inclined to give up animal products completely, but we really don’t need to eat as much as we do.
Became a vegetarian in 1991 and transitioned to vegan in 1998. I’ve witnessed 30 years of product evolution in the plant-based food realm. My first years as a vegetarian the few substitutes for meat and dairy were tofu, textured vegetable protein (TVP), seitan (wheat gluten), and soy milk. Today there’s everything under the sun for an entire plant-based diet.
I’ve tried many of the plant-based non-dairy milk as they became available. Starting with unsweetened soy milk (blah!), sweetened soy milk (ok), coconut milk sweetened/not (ok), almond milk (prefer unsweetened vanilla), cashew milk (prefer unsweetened vanilla), hemp milk sweetened/not (blah!). I’m cutting back on sugar these days and have discovered that I like the almond (unsweetened vanilla) made by a local Austin, Texas brand called MALK.
For breakfast I love having tofu scramble (tofu migas) with Mexican rice and black beans or breakfast tacos with tofu scramble, avocado and Pico de Gallo. Tofu scramble is an excellent plant-based substitute for scrambled eggs when prepared properly. However, I knew a proper plant-based egg substitute would eventually come out, and JUST Egg does that.
As for plant-based alternatives to beef burgers in the early days there was the Garden Burger, then other competing brands came along, most using TVP as a base ingredient. Today there’s Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, I like them both. I use the Beyond Beef Crumbles in tacos, pasta sauce, and sloppy joe. I also like the Beyond Sausage Brat. For a burger I prefer Impossible Burger.
I consider myself very lucky living in Austin, Texas, where most restaurants have vegetarian/vegan options on the menu. I can get most of my plant-based foods from my local Wheatsville Food Co-op, Whole Foods (started in Austin, TX), and Farmers Market.
I work in a little bakery cafe, and we are largely vegetarian, and do a lot of vegan stuff as well. In terms of vegan baked goods, butter subs are pretty easy–most hard margarines will work 1 for 1 (though personally I avoid ones with palm oil), and we use sunflower spread instead of butter 1 for 1 in our flapjack recipe (I’m in England, but we don’t have flapjacks in the Pacific NW where I grew up. Don’t know about Ohio. Regardless, they’re delicious.).
Eggs are trickier. Some people swear by aquafaba (the liquid from tinned chickpeas and/or other beans–you can also make your own from soaking and boiling dried beans) as an egg replacement. It will whip up similar to a meringue, but we found that it would make cakes really fudgy in texture (good or bad, depending on your whims), but also lacked structural integrity (bad when selling slices of a cake). My colleague developed a killer vegan chocolate cake recipe that doesn’t use aquafaba and is really easy to make. I won’t post it out of respect for her hard work, but it’s basically just oil and flour and sugar and cocoa powder and a raising agent. And maybe some vinegar (to work with said raising agent). At the bakery–and in my home life–we don’t use additives, stabilizers, chemicals, etc. I mean yeah, most of them are fine, but it’s not what we are as a business, and not who I am as a person.
We love oat milk at the bakery, and I’m really sad you hated it. As a barista, it’s so much easier to work with than soy (which is awful in every possible way, as far as I’m concerned), and flavor and texture wise is the closest to dairy milk. It’s not the same, but we found it to be the best replacement. I love dairy, but I’ve replaced most of the milk in my coffee with oat milk. Though coconut milk makes the BEST hot chocolate.
Another possible scrambled egg substitute is ackee , a savory and creamy tropical fruit available canned in the US. (Properly ripened ackee is not at all dangerous.)
Also — you do have a lot of space around your house. You could raise some chickens for eggs and companionship! Apparently they make good pets.
I don’t do well without animal proteins — so like, I have lots of vegetarian days, but not lots of them in a row? I start to feel super crappy if I use only nonmeat protein sources for more than a couple of days in a row. So I am definitely not vegan. However, as I age I become less lactose-tolerant, and I am dreading the day when cheese becomes a problem. I love cheese. But milk? Almond, for sure, and I’ve been pretty happy with the Almond Breeze brand. I am aware, as at least one commenter above notes, that there has been a conversation about whether almond-production is water intensive, and like, it kind of is, but it’s not more water intensive than raising cows, so…?
Meanwhile, I will note that avocado does pretty well in giving things even other than toast that kind of creaminess and satisfying fattiness that comes from a lot of butter and cheese. Avocado on eggs? Yes please. Avocado on a baked potato? Yes. Grilled avocado sandwich? Yes. (For your pop: avocado on anything and wrapped in a tortilla: yes.) I’ve been meaning to run an experiment in which I check to see whether I can replace, say, the butter in biscuits (that you chop up into your dry ingredients before adding a milk) with avocado. Which sounds weird but I think might actually be awesome if it works. Hm.
If you skip the icing – and I would, it doesn’t need it – this is a very cromulent vegan chocolate cake. You could also use vegan icing of some sort if you really needed the extra sugarness.
Good article and the choices have come a long way.
Beyond and Impossible have replaced nearly all of our meat consumption in the form of burgers, chili, and tacos and the cost has come down as well. Beyond is a bit more preseasoned so we use Impossible for the recipes we want a the recipe herbs to shine. They both need to develop lower carbon footprints for their burger packaging though. I wince every time I buy the burgers due to the waste. I’ve heard beyond came out with a bulk pack but have yet to see it in stores near me. It wouldn’t hurt for them to diversify the burger flavors as well.
Beyonds brats are just okay. Nobody has blown us away with a pork-like equivalent although like Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction I don’t dig on swine.
This website has a lot of vegan recipes:
I’m allergic to nuts, coconut and Bananas so I try to avoid a lot of vegan baked goods.
We have been going for more vegetarian foods and only eat meat once a week (from a ethically sourced grassed fed local butcher. So less meat but more expensive)
We eat a lot of Indian, Thai and Vietnamese food.
We have our own hens so will continue to eat eggs.
Hens are crap making, garden destroying machines who give you the constant side eye trying to work out if they could eat you.
But they are funny to watch.