Vegan Substitutions Guide for beginners
“Vegan foods are beyond the diet before the drug”.
Now, again the history is recapitulating in the context of diet. We are moving back to our ancestral footprints as they were vegans, so we are gradually turning vegans too. Even, the greatest minds in the past centuries had devoured on plant-based diets.
In the relay race of the 21st century, people’s demands have been shifting from “wants” to “needs”. In the earlier days, people were adopting a vegan lifestyle due to some philosophical reasons.
But, in the present scenario, the majority of individuals are drifting towards plant foods due to health concerns and the greater availability of plant-based products.
As we all know the market is always driven according to the needs and demands of the population. So, the vegan market is the emerging sector that comes up with innovative delicious products and has opened innumerable options for vegans.
Hence in this article, you will get to know about the best plant based alternatives to animal foods:
1. Vegan Substitute for Milk
Milk from plant sources is low in calories, lactose-free, and cholesterol-free. Besides it has other nutraceutical properties too as it contains various active compounds that proffer health benefits such as reduced cholesterol, may have anti-cancerous properties, good for cardiovascular health, and many more.
Initially, plant-based milk was consumed by lactose intolerant individuals, or those who are allergic to milk. But now most of the health-conscious individuals are also looking for plant-based milk.
Additionally, in the contemporary world, beverages are not only seen as a revitalizing drink but consumers also count on benefits that specific drink is providing like a stress reliever, boost energy level, fight against fatigue, delay aging, and provide essential nutrients to overcome nutritional deficiencies (calcium, iron, etc.).
Milk from plant sources are grouped into five categories which are given below
a) Cereal based: Oat milk, Rice milk, Corn milk, Spelt milk
Oat milk is a good source of protein, high in dietary fiber and phytochemicals. It is a good source of soluble fiber (β-glucan) which provides several health benefits like :
- reducing cholesterol
- decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases
- managing diabetes by slow release of glucose in the blood
- promoting weight loss by delaying gastric emptying time
- decreasing the risk of metabolic disorders
- relieving constipation
- It is gluten-free so can be consumed by the celiac population.
b) Legume based: Soy milk, Peanut milk, Lupin milk, Cowpea milk
Soy milk contains essential fatty acids like monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids in ample amounts, which protects you from cardiovascular diseases.
Further, it is also a good source of isoflavones especially genistein which has a tendency to suppress cancer, protect against osteoporosis, and reduce cholesterol (Omoni, &Aluko, 2005) (2).
Peanut milk could help in improving blood lipid profile, blood sugar level, nutritional profile, and manage weight (3).
Research has also indicated that daily consumption of 46g of peanuts or peanut butter (as per 2003 FDA recommendation qualified health claims for nuts) improves the nutritional profile along with cardioprotective effects (4).
c) Nut based: Almond milk, Coconut milk, Hazelnut milk, Pistachio milk, Walnut milk
Almond milk is a key source of vitamin E and alpha-tocopherol (the active compound of Vitamin E), which possesses antioxidant properties.
It is also a good source of essential nutrients that are important for the body like calcium, magnesium, selenium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and a few more.
It acts as a prebiotic due to the presence of arabinose sugar in its cell wall which has the potential to reduce the serum cholesterol level.
Coconut milk is a significant source of certain vitamins and minerals namely, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
It contains saturated fat (i.e. lauric acid) which is also found in breast milk and associated with the development of the brain (5).
It is less allergic to people.
It also improves digestion, moisturizes skin, may possess anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anticancer properties, and has a cooling effect.
d) Seed based: Sesame milk, Flaxseed milk, Hemp milk, Sunflower milk
Sesame milk has antioxidant properties which protect against free-radical damage and has anticancer, antiviral, and antitumor properties.
It contains lignans that help in reducing serum cholesterol. It is a good source of calcium, potassium, carotenoids, iron, protein, and healthy fats.
e) Pseudo-cereal based: Quinoa milk, Teff milk, Amaranth milk
2. Vegan Substitute for egg
In baking, eggs can be substituted by various plant foods like mashed banana, tofu, apple sauce, mashed avocado, soaked chia seeds, and flaxseeds as they have thickening property, and binding capacity.
If you want to thicken your smoothies then soaked chia seeds, basil seeds, and flaxseeds are best to choose because they have swelling properties.
In the case of soup, you can add the above-mentioned seeds in powdered form.
3. Vegan Substitute for Meat
For vegans, or for meat lovers who turned vegan and are searching for that specific meat taste then. Here you’ll get some options below:
- Tofu, Tempeh, seitan, and textured vegetable protein
- Mushroom due to its earthy, umami, and meaty flavor. It can be used as fillings in various recipes of meat.
- Eggplant, cauliflower, beetroot, and jackfruit. Even jackfruit has been exported globally as a meat substitute because of its exotic flavor.
- Beans and legumes especially, white beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and black-eyed peas.
4. Vegan substitute for cheese
Is it really possible to substitute cheese? Yes, you can. There are several vegan kind of cheeses now available in the market with that same cheesy flavor. So, below are a few great options:
Tofu gouda, cashew brie, raw cashew almond cheese, chipotle aquafaba cheese, baked cashew mozzarella, potato and carrot cheese, and garlic & herb cream cheese.
5. Vegan Substitute for Honey
You can substitute honey with molasses, maple syrup, coconut nectar, brown sugar, coconut sugar and agave.
Veganism is a trend and we all are following that trend in pursuit of better health. We always pursue what we get to know about diet from our surroundings. Social media is the emerging platform which helps us in providing up-to-date researched information on healthy diets and what’s going around us.
Now, the vegan market is flushed with a wide range of plant products because more and more people are opting vegan lifestyle. As the people demands have been increasing manufacturers are also coming up with innovative delicious products thus, opening vegan food options for people.
So, in today’s world, you’ll get all the vegan substitutes for animal-based products that ranges from dairy products to meat, egg, and seafood.
The most common and essential commodity i.e. dairy milk can be conveniently substituted by almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, and oat milk. Moreover, all these products are easily available in the market.
Additionally, plant-based products also possess nutraceutical properties and have the potential to alleviate certain lifestyle disorders or diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid, and other metabolic disorders.
Henceforth, a well-planned vegan diet improves overall health alongside it is sustainable, economic and environmentally friendly.
(3) A randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of incorporating peanuts into an American Diabetes Association meal plan on the nutrient profile of the total diet and cardiometabolic parameters of adults with type 2 diabetes
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neha Singh, Msc(Hon.) Food and Nutrition
Neha is a sports nutritionist who loves to write on topics related to nutrition and encourage healthy eating for a wholesome lifestyle.