8 easy food swaps for when you’re switching to a vegan diet

If you're a vegan and also a foodie, you can still change your diet and enjoy the meals you love – with a few clever swaps.

Vegan bowl photo by Anna Pelzer

Veganuary is becoming increasingly popular and it feels as though incredible vegan options are popping up everywhere – and we’re hearing loads about the benefits to health, environment and animals too.

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Switching to veganism can be a bit daunting as you search for substitutes for much-loved recipes, but it’s easier than ever to become a vegan – and still eat well.

Louise and Vanessa from The Vegan Larder were both big foodies even before they became vegan. When they started their business (producing plant-based cooking and snack boxes), it seemed natural to produce their own vegan recipe blog too.

Outdoors portrait of young beautiful woman in winter

Vanessa explains: “We realised there were loads of simple swaps we could make so we could still eat similar food to when we were meat eaters, as well as trying out lots of new delicious food. That’s why we created our recipe blog.”

“We wanted to help people easily cook everything from indulgent breakfasts, soups, cakes, burgers and salads,” Louise adds.

As vegan pros, Vanessa and Louise were keen to share their tips and swaps with us on making vegan cooking simple.

“You can get most of this stuff from the supermarket or any health food shop. And it’s not about putting pressure on yourself to go full vegan,” Vanessa says. “Have fun, explore the yummy food, make some swaps. You’ll feel the benefits in your body, and you’ll love the food so much you may not want to stop!”

Delicious drink made of turmeric, ginger, milk, honey and cinnamon.
Getty Image/gojak

8 tips and swaps to make vegan cooking easier

1

Choose non-dairy milk in your tea, coffee or turmeric latte

The non-dairy milk industry (or plant milk as it’s often now called) has exploded. It’s in pretty much every cafe and in all shops and supermarkets. And there are loads to choose from; almond, coconut, oat, hemp, rice, the list goes on! So experiment and find the one you like best. Oat milk can be nice and creamy for coffee, and coconut milk tastes delicious for hot chocolate.

2

Swap your milk chocolate for vegan chocolate

There’s vegan chocolate everywhere, whether it’s for a snack, dessert or cake. Chocolate originally comes from a plant (the cacao plant), so that’s where the yummy chocolate taste comes from. If you’re using chocolate in cake, buy dark chocolate (and check it is vegan). If you’re looking for an indulgent snack, health food shops (and major supermarkets) have all sorts of delicious vegan chocolate bars. The Vegan Larder’s favourite is the Vego Bar, made with creamy hazelnut paste, available in their Vegan Starter Kit.

Scrambled tofu

3

Swap your scrambled eggs for scrambled tofu

If you’re into morning eggs, or eggs for weekend brunch, vegan food will not disappoint. Silken tofu (it’s the softer form of tofu) has the same texture as scrambled eggs, is packed full of protein and easy to cook. Try this simple and delicious scrambled tofu recipe.

4

Make cakes vegan by swapping eggs for banana or flax seeds, and butter for oil

We all love cake, and luckily, eating vegan doesn’t mean you have to go without. Eggs actually just bind ingredients together (they are not there for taste), so instead you can use mashed banana, or something called flaxseed egg. Flaxseed egg is made by milling flaxseed (you can buy it already milled or do it in your blender) and mixing 1 tbsp of the flaxseed with 2 tbsp water. It becomes a gel like substance which binds your cake. And butter in cakes can be replaced with any oil – sunflower oil works very well. Try these Vegan Larder gooey brownies.

Assorted spices
Andra Lon/Unsplash
5

Make sure your cupboard is stocked with great flavours, spices and vegan essentials

Stocking up on just a few of the best herbs, spices and condiments will make vegan cooking a flavourful breeze. Many vegan recipes will have herbs and spices for the best flavours.

Smoked paprika gives a delicious oaky, smoked taste, and nutritional yeast (known as nooch!) gives a nutty cheese taste.

6

Swap your meat burger for a veggie burger

With all the vegan options in mainstream and independent restaurants, there are vegan burgers everywhere. And there are tonnes of recipes online. Burgers made with beans and vegetables are packed full of protein and fibre. The Vegan Larder do this healthy, flavourful burger which is easy to make and perfect for winter and BBQ season alike.

Lentil spaghetti

7

Swap your mince meat for lentils or mock mince

Our mid-week go-to meal is spaghetti bolognese, and you don’t have to break the tradition! There are loads of brilliant vegan meat substitutes now (like Quorn mince). Or you can use lentils instead of mince. Lentils are packed full of protein and much healthier than meat. The Vegan Larder’s favourite is their Basic Bolognese.

8

Snack on nuts, nut butter, energy bars and fruit

If you’re a snacker, you’re in luck. The vegan snack industry is booming! Head in to any supermarket or health food shop and you’ll find them on the snack aisles or by the tills. Bags of nuts are great, as is nut butter on rice cakes. And nuts are full of protein and good fats.

Fruit like bananas and apples are easy to put in your bag. It’s much healthier than diving into the biscuit tin at work!

Vegan meal out
Ella Olsson of www.freshnlean.com

Check the vegan options before you go out to eat

The world is changing, and most places are offering vegan options, or in some cases, whole vegan menus! Before you go out, check the menu and make sure there’s good options.

Or you can use apps or websites like Happy Cow which show you all the vegan restaurants or places with vegan options around you (wherever you are in the world!).

About The Vegan Larder

The Vegan Larder specialise in delicious subscription and gift food boxes, and individual items through their online shop, making cooking, snacking and eating plant based exciting, healthy and easy.

Every box always contains more value than the £24.99 or £19.50 subscription price, sneaky extra treats, and of course the amazing Vegan Larder recipes that are created to help inspire customers to know how to use the products within the box.

The Vegan Larder only uses products which are completely vegan and palm oil free (with a gluten free option). They also focus on independent & ethical suppliers, especially those who are not well known, or who have limited stockists. This makes each box truly exciting to open!

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