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.
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:
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:
- Try out some vegan sausage substitutes, like the vegan sausages by THIS and the Future Farm Vegan Sausages
- Replace bacon with a direct vegan substitute like La Vie Vegan Bacon or THIS Isn’t Bacon
- Fry off some vegan burger patties instead of meat patties, great alternatives include Moving Mountains Vegan Beef Burger or my homemade vegan jackfruit burger patties
- Use torn-up tofu or tempeh pieces in place of chicken
- Use lentils instead of beef mince inside pasta sauces, like in this vegan ragu
- Create your own meatballs using black beans
- Tear up oyster mushrooms to create vegan pulled pork
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:
- Try out using seaweed in your stocks and sauces to create a fishy taste
- Use torn up jackfruit or crushed chickpeas and mix them in with vegan mayonnaise to create vegan tuna mayo
- Batter and deep fry a banana blossom to create a vegan fish and chip dinner
- Create a smoked salmon alternative using carrots
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:
- Blend silken tofu to create a creamy sauce base
- Soak and blitz cashews to create vegan cheese or buy one of these fantastic vegan cheese alternatives
- Sprinkle nutritional yeast on any dishes where you would normally use parmesan cheese
- Use one of these incredible plant-based milk alternatives in place of cow’s milk in any dish
- Sub butter directly for a vegan butter alternative or just use a good quality oil or a margarine
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 ways in which you can do this:
- For eggy flavours use black salt (Kala Namak), it has a very eggy smell and taste
- To recreate your favourite omelette try using a chickpea flour base instead
- Try out using ackee or firm tofu for a scrambled egg alternative to create a tasty vegan breakfast
- Use aquafaba, chia seeds, or flaxseeds to bake cakes and cookies
- 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!
Indulgent vegan beef wellington recipe
Beef wellington used to be one of my favourite meals. It may sound and look a little pretentious but it is delicious. Lovely savoury flavours wrapped inside rich mushrooms and flaky pastry. I have since created this vegan beef wellington recipe which lives up to these positive memories!
Vegan katsu curry with crispy tempeh
This is one of my favourite comfort foods. I love how warming the katsu curry sauce is and I am always looking for any excuse to use tempeh. I believe they work really well together! So check out my take on a vegan katsu recipe here.
Plant-based stroganoff recipe with vegan beef strips
A creamy comforting dish using paprika and mustard. Veganised with vegan beef strips.