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Last updated: January 24, 2024

How to veganise your favourite meals

By learning how to veganise your favourite dishes you’ll find experimenting with vegan food that bit easier and much more enjoyable. You can fall back on existing knowledge and use it as a foundation to experiment. So, let me take you through these simple steps to veganising food.

A noodle dish that has been veganised using tempeh instead of meat

Well, you’ve gone and done it, you officially jumped on the vegan bandwagon and said goodbye to all my favourite animal products. But here’s the thing, you have no idea what you’re doing in the kitchen. You’ve never even tried to cook without butter, cheese, or meat before. It’s like trying to navigate a foreign country without Google Maps!

But, I can sense that you are not one to give up easily, so I figured, why not show you how to start by cooking the dishes you already know and love? But tasty and nutritious vegan versions of them.

That’s right, I’m going to show you how you can veganise your favourite meals, and give them a plant-based makeover.

So, if this is you and you are new to this whole vegan thing, or if you’re a seasoned pro looking for some new inspiration, grab your apron and let’s get veganising!

Can anything be made vegan?

Yes, absolutely every dish you can think of can be made vegan either by replacing ingredients with plant-based alternatives or by using like-for-like substitutes.

You can also replicate the taste and mouthfeel really quite well. This is because many of the flavours and textures in non-vegan dishes come from ingredients other than animal products.

For example, spices, herbs, and vegetables can provide a wide range of flavours, while plant-based proteins, such as tofu and legumes, can be used to replace meat in many dishes. Additionally, vegan ingredients like nut-based milk and cheeses, as well as plant-based butter substitutes, can be used in place of dairy products.

But anyhow, more on that later.

Cooked moving mountains burger inside a bun

Why learn to veganise dishes?

When something is completely new to you it really helps to be able to draw upon your experience from something related. It can accelerate the learning process and make it much more enjoyable.

Specifically, in the case of food, when you go vegan it may feel incredibly overwhelming. But if you already have a load of dishes that you know and love to eat then you can fall back on these by veganising them.

Because you already know the base of these dishes you will find cooking them a lot easier, you’ll just have to make a few tweaks here and there to ensure it is vegan.

I am now going to take you through a really easy step-by-step process on veganising your favourite dishes.

How to veganise food

Veganising food isn’t an exact science so it can take some experimenting. But thankfully there are loads of vegan products that make veganising dishes super simple. Just follow the next steps and you’ll be veganising loads of your meals in no time!

Step 1: Locate non-vegan ingredients in recipes

This really simple first step is vital to veganising dishes. You really need to be able to spot what is vegan and what isn’t vegan in recipes.

Recommended reading: Find out what food vegans can and can’t eat

Once you have sussed out what ingredients in a recipe aren’t vegan it is a good idea to highlight them so you can go back to it shortly and find a suitable substitution. If the recipe is in your head then it may be useful to write it down and circle out the non-vegan ingredients there.

Step 2: Find vegan substitutions

Now you have found the non-vegan culprits in your recipes you will want to find a way to substitute them. This is thankfully now very easy with the hundreds of vegan products we have available.

Please note, you may find that some recipes don’t even require a substitute and that you can just simply leave out the non-vegan ingredients. For instance, if it is a salad that calls for an egg garnish then you could just leave it out. This is entirely up to you!

A quick Google will tell you if there are any direct substitutes for the ingredients you are after. You can also take a look through my lists of popular vegan substitutions for meat, fish, dairy, and eggs:

A plate of vegan sausages from THIS

How to veganise meat

There are plenty of options when it comes to veganising meat in your recipes. You can opt for both natural products as well as fake meats.

Here are some handy examples of how to replace meat using meat substitutes:

Here are some handy examples of how to replace meat using natural products:

Vegan carrot lox on top of a bagel

How to veganise fish

It is becoming more and more popular to veganise fish-based dishes. You can get loads of vegan fish substitutes but there are also some great plant-based seasonings that can help to achieve a similar taste. Here are some great ways to veganise fish in your dishes:

  • Flavour: try out using seaweed in your stocks and sauces to create a fishy taste
  • Flaky fish (like tuna): sse torn up young jackfruit or crushed chickpeas and mix them in with vegan mayonnaise
  • Fried fish: batter and deep fry a banana blossom to create a vegan fish and chip dinner
  • Smoked fish: create a smoked salmon alternative using carrots
Vegan creamy mustard sauce

How to veganise dairy

Vegan substitutes for dairy are always growing since the demand is huge. Thankfully, this means that there is probably a dairy substitute out there to suit pretty much everyone! Take a look at a few ways you can veganise dishes that contain dairy:

A plate of scrambled egg that has been veganised using a vegan egg alternative

How to veganise eggs

This is the slightly more tricky element to veganise, but it is still very much possible! You won’t be able to boil something and for it to turn out like a boiled egg, but you can definitely replicate the flavours and binding properties of an egg. Here are some great vegan alternatives to eggs:

  • Flavour: for eggy flavours use black salt (Kala Namak), it has a very eggy smell and taste
  • Mayonnaise: buy one of these awesome vegan mayo products
  • Omelette: recreate your favourite omelette try using a chickpea flour base instead
  • Scrambled egg: try out using ackee or firm tofu for a scrambled egg alternative to create a tasty vegan breakfast
  • Baking: use aquafaba, chia seeds, or flaxseeds to bake cakes and cookies
  • Egg wash: recreate an egg wash on pastry or other baked goods using aquafaba (the liquid from a tin of chickpeas)

Step 3: Replicate the dish using vegan ingredients

Now that you have your substitutes ready you can start using them inside your favourite dishes. The trick often is to use them like-for-like, but there are exceptions.

For example, if the dish includes a long cooking time in order to cook a large piece of meat then you won’t need to do this to cook a vegan substitute, since the cooking time is much much less.

Be open-minded and ready to experiment. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve with vegan ingredients!

Let’s veganise a dish together

To be sure you’ve got the knack for all of this veganising malarky, let’s go through a dish together.

One of my favourite foods that I used to eat a lot of before I went vegan was sausage rolls. I loved the flakey pastry with the umami sausage meat inside. But it wasn’t at all vegan. The main ingredients included:

  • Pork mince meat
  • Puff pastry
  • Egg wash

There are quite a few red flags when looking at the above ingredients. Firstly, pork mince meat comes from an animal source and the egg wash is made using an egg. On top of this, most puff pastry is made using butter which also isn’t vegan.

So, we should be circling all of the above ingredients and finding suitable alternatives.

Pork mince meat: In order to replace the pork mince meat you will want to either source a fake meat alternative, like this vegan pork mince from OmniFoods, or you can opt to use a more natural substitute like cooked lentils or finely chopped mushrooms and nuts.

Egg wash: For the egg wash you can use the liquid from a tin of chickpeas (aquafaba). This is really high in protein, like the liquid from an egg, and so creates a really nice shiny glaze on top of the pastry.

Puff pastry: Last of all, if you are making the pastry yourself you can substitute the butter for vegan butter like-for-like. Alternatively, you can buy shop-bought puff pastry, one of the largest brands’ puff pastry is accidentally vegan – Jus-Rol Puff Pastry.

You can check out my fully vegan version of this delicious dish here: vegan sausage roll recipe

Check out my own recipes of veganised dishes

I still love veganising old favourite dishes, not only do they bring back good memories I also find I enjoy them even more now that they are vegan!

  • Peanut cacao vegan protein shake (35g protein)

    Peanut cacao vegan protein shake (35g protein)

    One serving contains over 35g of plant-based protein and takes just 5 minutes to whip it together.

  • Creamy butter beans (high-protein & vegan)

    Creamy butter beans (high-protein & vegan)

    Make butter beans the star of the show with this delicious vegan creamy butter bean dish. Packed full of plant-based protein.

  • Easy vegan gnocchi bake recipe

    Easy vegan gnocchi bake recipe

    Looking for an easy mid-week dinner that is packed full of flavour? Then you’ll love this vegan gnocchi bake recipe.

  • The eggiest vegan scrambled tofu recipe

    The eggiest vegan scrambled tofu recipe

    This vegan scrambled tofu recipe has the perfect combination of both eggy texture and taste.

  • Vegan sourdough discard muffins with rhubarb

    Vegan sourdough discard muffins with rhubarb

    These muffins are light and fluffy with a wonderful tart flavour from the rhubarb

  • Sourdough discard banana bread (100% vegan)

    Sourdough discard banana bread (100% vegan)

    A delicious recipe that proves sourdough discard can be more than just leftovers!

  • Oven baked vegan chilli non carne

    Oven baked vegan chilli non carne

    One of my favourite things about visiting my parents is the Saturday morning ritual of reading through the Guardian newspaper. The first thing I reach for is the Feast. In recent years it has contained some vegan recipe gems. One such recipe was an oven-baked chilli tofu by Meera Sodha. It produced such a lovely…

  • Vegan double chocolate chip cookies (gluten-free too!)

    Vegan double chocolate chip cookies (gluten-free too!)

    Who doesn’t love a double chocolate chip cookie? Well, my Mum, I recently found out. She prefers her cookies packed full of nuts. Whereas I love mine to contain larger quantities of chocolate chips than cookie dough. So I decided to meet her in the middle and create these deliciously chocolatey vegan double chocolate chip…

  • How to make vegan buttermilk

    How to make vegan buttermilk

    Are you trying to veganise a recipe that calls for buttermilk? Well, you may not get such good results from substituting it like-for-like with plain vegan milk. It won’t add a tangy taste like buttermilk does, nor will it create fluffy soft bakes. But you can make vegan buttermilk using two simple ingredients, vegan milk…

Lucy the founder of Edible Ethics vegan food blog eating vegan noodles in a plant based restaurant

Lucy Johnson

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