All About Food! is organized to help you find your way in the big, beautiful, bountiful world of vegan food.
A lot of vegans are “foodies” – they live, cook, eat, and dream food. There’s a big vegan world out there and some of us are out to eat it up.
Still, one of the biggest questions on the minds of those considering a transition to living vegan is, “What will I eat?!” After all, even if you’re not a “foodie” who lives to eat, we all have to eat to live. Let’s put those fears to rest. If you’re new to living vegan, your food choices are about to be blown wide open. You’ll find foods you didn’t know existed, flavors that will rock your world, and textures that will make you swoon.
What will you eat? LOTS! You want health food? You’re in luck. You want junk food? You got it! You want no processed foods? No problem. You want ALL processed foods? :) You’re covered. Not all vegans eat the same food. Explore or stay in your comfort zone – it’s up to you.
Vegan food is everywhere with new products and menu items popping up all the time. Explore the rest of All About Food! for product suggestions to Make the Switch, tips for dining out, and links to thousands upon thousands of recipes and food ideas. You could try a different vegan recipe every single meal of every single day and never reach the end of possibilities. Eat up!
Love convenience foods? The good news is, even junk food junkies can stay junk food junkies… and STILL improve their health dramatically. Remember, there is no cholesterol in ANY vegan food (cholesterol is only found in animal products). While almost all vegan food options will be much healthier than their animal-based counterparts, not all vegan choices have to be “healthy” (vegan ice cream anyone?!).
Vegan foods can and do taste fantastic and familiar. There is a vegan alternative to almost any animal product you used to eat. You may enjoy familiar convenience foods like veggie burgers, pizza with veggie meats and dairy-free cheese, brats/sausages and hotdogs, French toast, smothered burritos, deli slices for sandwiches, and desserts like ice cream, cookies, cakes, marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate. It’s a big and growing list that keeps growing as more and more people purchase vegan foods.
So, while of course we want you to stay healthy and we’re not suggesting that you forget the veggies -- taste, variety, familiarity, and fun are important as well. Many vegans are looking for the same convenience foods they are used to while choosing the healthier and compassionate vegan versions.
Don’t like convenience foods? Perfect! Did we mention that living vegan is for EVERYONE? :) If you’re into your health, choosing vegan will take you to new heights. Some of the most powerful and successful health advocates and athletes in the world choose vegan foods to step up their game. Whether you’re a superstar athlete, someone who treats your body like a temple, or someone just looking to clean up your diet, put on some muscle, or take off some weight, choosing vegan is the best way to make it happen – for your health, for the planet, and for the animals.
Check out Healthy Eating for other health-related questions.
Really busy? No worries. Check out Make the Switch for some great no-cook veggie meats, cheeses, etc. Pour some yummy vegan milk on your breakfast cereal. Look at our Dining Out page for tips on eating on the run. If you’re really rushed and want to throw something in the microwave – browse some of recipes and links and tips especially for busy people (we’ll even keep the sentences short to save you time).
Living vegan does not have to be more expensive than consuming animal products. In fact, living vegan can be more affordable in the short-term and much, MUCH more affordable in the long-term.
Some of the so-called “replacement” or “alternative” pre-packaged vegan products like vegan ice cream, veggie meats, and dairy-free cheeses might currently be more expensive than their animal-based counterparts, but these are the exception. Fresh veggies and fruits, rice, beans, pastas and other whole foods are more versatile and significantly less expensive than processed foods or animal products. You can also make your own veggie meats, ice creams, and cheeses and save a bundle.
It’s possible to save even more money by being a smart vegan shopper. Consider buying in bulk, or buy even more with friends and split orders for case discounts. Buy when sales are running (vegan products are often on sale because growing companies are eager to promote them), coupon shop, and store-hop to find the best sales.
In the long-term, you’ll likely save money on healthcare and you may even save your life. Overcoming illness is expensive and your health is priceless. A minimal investment in healthier vegan eating can improve and maintain your health so you can live a longer, happier life. Vegan food choices reduce your risk of the common diseases associated with consuming animal products including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
True Costs. It’s important to note that animal products have unnaturally low price tags because the animal agribusiness industries use your tax dollars to stay afloat and to increase their profits. Tax subsidies of land, water, and grain, and direct payouts to animal agribusiness lead to an artificial affordability and, therefore, increased consumption of animal products. This has resulted in disastrous health consequences in the U.S. and especially in poorer populations. See Why Vegan for more details.
Bringing Costs Down. It’s also important to note that specialty vegan foods still hold a relatively small share of the market. While some specialty products from smaller companies may currently seem relatively expensive, as more people purchase these products, their prices will continue to drop. Doing what you can to support these products now will ultimately allow more of these products to be produced and will increase their affordability and availability for you and for others.
If you have questions about staying strong and healthy on a vegan diet, first know that it’s not difficult. You don’t have to become a nutrition expert. You won’t have to keep a food journal or “plan” your meals. Remember the bottom line: every single nutrient needed for a happy and healthy body is available in plant-based form. And you are surrounded by an abundance of vegan food. Check out Healthy Eating for more FAQs, tips, and links.
Whether you dine out for every meal or you just want to make sure you can still hang out with your friends who are not vegan, you’ll want to get a handle on choosing vegan when going to restaurants. Here are a few tips:
1.Plan ahead. It’s best to know what choices may be available before you go out to eat. Many restaurants have their menus online for you to peruse in advance, or you can also simply call ahead and ask what vegan options the restaurant offers.
2.Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There was a time when people didn’t know what “vegan”Now, with a growing interest in animal ethics, health, and food allergies, most restaurants can point out what’s vegan on the menu. If there isn’t anything appealing to you, consider asking if the chef can be creative for you. Many chefs love to create outside the box – you might just make their day!
3.Mix it up. Try ethnic restaurants. Indian, Thai, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and even Italian restaurants almost always offer vegan options. Many Thai and Chinese restaurants even have vegan meats like “beef,” “chicken,” “duck” and more.
4.Explore and invite. There are great websites catering to those looking for local vegan restaurant offerings and there are new vegan menu items and entirely vegan restaurants popping up all the time. Have fun exploring. Find that perfect eating spot and then invite your friends and family to join you in a compassionate, delicious meal on the town.
Do an internet search for vegan + restaurants +“your town” and see what you find! And here are a few links to get you started:
For more information on navigating the social scene with friends, family, and coworkers who are not vegan, visit Social Situations > Dining Out With People Who Aren’t Vegan.
Almost every grocery store will have plenty of fruits, veggies, and vegan ingredients. Most major grocery stores now also carry at least some vegan convenience foods – like veggie hotdogs, burgers, “chicken” strips, dairy-free milks, ice creams, frozen pizza with dairy-free cheese, etc.
Most of the foods you already eat are probably vegan without our even thinking about it. You’ll continue to find tons of “vegan by accident” items (items not made to be specifically vegan, but happen to contain no animal products) on the shelves like cereals, breads, pasta, chips, cookies, crackers, soups.
When you start shopping with your new vegan eye or if you’re a seasoned vegan shopping in a new store, the giant maze filled with a seemingly endless array of food choices may be dizzying. It might feel challenging filter past the items you don’t want to find what you do want.
But after a while you’ll stop seeing the whole store and start seeing the “vegan store” within the whole store. You may stop pushing your cart through the animal meat/butcher department entirely. Maybe you’ll start your shopping in the “natural foods” aisle or the produce section. Soon you’ll walk right by the cows’ milk to the shelf with the almond, coconut, and soy milks without skipping a beat.
TIP: Reading Labels. Sometimes, allergy warning labels make it easy to quickly find out whether or not an item contains animal products. If you’re reading labels, try skipping to the BIG BOLD LETTERS usually at the bottom of the ingredients list to see if it contains common allergens like MILK and/or EGGS. Not all products have this label, but many do.
And keep your eyes peeled for the growing number of products proudly labeled “VEGAN”:
Don’t worry; you won’t be reading labels ALL the time. You’ll create new shopping habits, just like you’ve done before; only now you’ll be choosing your vegan favorites.
You might have a natural foods store or major supermarket close to you. But if your local shopping options are limited or if you have a hankering for the best dairy-free cheeses, veggie burgers, or vegan marshmallows, have no fear – find it online!
A few clicks and your vegan goodies are on their way to your doorstep. Explore on your own, of course, but here are a few of our favorite places to shop for vegan products online:
And how ‘bout complete meals delivered right to your door:
As you explore vegan recipes, hang out with new vegan friends, or shop for vegan foods, you’ll probably discover food items that are new to you. Here’s a quick guide to what some of these foods are, what they taste like, and what you can make with them:
Ener-G Egg Replacer is a dry powder that you mix with water to replace eggs making baked goods. It’s available in most health food stores and many supermarkets. See Make the Switch for other egg replacement alternatives.
Tofu is a high-protein soybean product. It comes in MANY different textures.
Use “extra firm” for stir-fry’s, scrambles (think scrambled eggs), salads, on the grill, etc. Tofu in vacuum packaging without water is usually much firmer than tofu found in water in little plastic tubs. You may also remove water from tofu to give it a more firm texture; or freeze it for a chewier, crumbly texture. The possibilities are endless.
Whip soft/silken tofu in a blender or food processor for dips, dressings, puddings, or pie fillings and dessert fillings.
Tofu cooking can have a learning curve and some tofu is better than others – experiment to find your favorite brand, texture, and technique. Tofu is very versatile because it soaks up the flavors of other ingredients. Although it doesn’t have much flavor on its own, you can also buy delicious pre-marinated, precooked tofu.
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast with a wonderfully cheesy flavor. This is NOT the same yeast you use to bake bread, etc. Not even close! That’s an easy first-time mistake you’ll never make again :) Nutritional yeast is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It can be easily added to soups, stews, casseroles, tofu scrambles, or sprinkled on popcorn. Use it in place of cheese to make any dish creamier and “cheesy” flavored.
Seitan (SAY-tan) is sometimes called “wheat meat.” It is a high-protein meat substitute made primarily of wheat gluten. You can find it prepackaged in a variety of flavors OR you can make your own (it’s fun and easy… and cheap!). Seitan is excellent as a “meat” substitute for sandwiches, kabobs, vegan sausages, and more!
Vegan cheese is non-dairy cheese that also does not contain animal rennet or casein. It and can be made from a wide range of vegan ingredients including tapioca, arrowroot, soy, rice, almonds, oats, nuts, even hemp (and more!). There are different varieties depending on what you’re looking for – melting, sandwich slices, cream cheese, etc. Tastes and textures vary, so experiment and find your favorites!
Dairy-free milks are healthy and compassionate alternatives to milk from cows or goats. They are now found in almost every grocery store. Some are in the dairy/refrigerated section while others are packaged for unrefrigerated storage and are usually found in the “natural foods” section. Flavors include plain, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and more. There are even flavored coffee creamers and specialty flavored Nogs for the holidays.
Try it on your favorite cereal, in your morning cup of coffee (or try a vegan creamer), in recipes that call for milk, or dunk a cookie and drink it straight! Each of the dozens of brands of vegan milks has its own distinct taste and texture. Have fun taste testing to find the one you like best.
Vegan margarine is a tasty non-dairy version of butter without the cholesterol (and cruelty) found in other butters and margarines. There are several brands available.
Textured Vegetable Protein (also known as TVP) is a dried soy product used as a meat replacement. It comes in various flavors or plain and varies in size from small crumbles to larger chunks. Soak in veggie broth or water to rehydrate and/or use as a substitute for ground beef in stews, chili, and pasta sauce. You can also find vegan ground “beef” in your refrigerated or freezer section (see Make the Switch).
Most of us have become accustomed to certain tastes and textures in our food. To most people in the U.S. animal products taste good. They often remind you of family and home. Choosing to live vegan doesn’t mean never enjoying those tastes and textures again. Happily, almost every animal product you may have become used to eating in the past now has a tasty plant-based alternative.
Holidays, celebrations, every day can be vegan, fun, and wonderful. Vegan birthdays can include cake and ice cream – just make or pick up scrumptious cake and vegan ice cream made without animal products. Want to fire up the grill with brats, burgers, and hotdogs or eat a pizza with your buddies? Eat up! There are lots of delicious veggie “meats” and dairy-free cheeses.
As you experiment and transition to vegan versions of your favorite foods, it’s helpful to know that not all brands or products taste the same. One kind dairy-free milk might rock your world, while another might make you want to wash your tongue. Same with vegan burgers, veggie meats, and dairy-free cheeses. We all have different tastes. But with all the options out there, you’re sure to find your favorites. Keep exploring.
Vegan food can (and should!) be every bit as decadent and delicious as any baking and cooking with animal products that you may be used to. Cruelty-free does NOT mean taste-free. In fact, many of us vegans consider ourselves “foodies.” We LOVE food that tastes phenomenal. And we’re always excited to find and share the next vegan delicacy.
7-Day Menu. Try some fun and easy recipes to get you started! There’s a recipe for every meal of each day of the week.
Meatout Mondays. Our fun weekly e-newsletter with recipes, product suggestions, health news, inspiration, and more!
Live Vegan e-Course (coming soon!)
Live Vegan Guide (print issue coming soon!)
Mac 'n' Cheese
Black Bean Quinoa
Middle Eastern Wraps
Garlic Pepper Tofu
Chocolate Chip Cookies
There are millions of vegan recipes online. You could easily try a new vegan recipe for every meal and every snack every day for the rest of your life and you would never have to eat the same thing twice. Start exploring here (see our Recipe Links in Helpful Resources). And then make sure to share your favorites with your family and friends!
Maybe you want a sandwich or a burger. Just replace the meat with veggies or veggie meat to veganize it. Mac and cheese or a veggie pizza? Vegan cheese and it’s veganized! Cookies and desserts? Easy, see our baking/cooking tips. A “chicken” or roast “beef” sandwich piled high? That’s right – veganize it.
How to veganize a recipe:
1.Choose your favorite recipes (even if it’s as simple as cereal or a sandwich)!
2.List the items or ingredients that are not vegan (for example meat, dairy/cheese, eggs, and gelatin).
3.Replace the animal-based ingredients with vegan products/ingredients (see Make the Switchand/or our baking/cooking tips).
For some people, veggie meats that look and taste like animal’s flesh don’t sound appealing. If you feel the same way, try chunky veggies in stews and stir-frys. Or try tofu, seitan, tempeh, or Portobello mushrooms for variety of texture.
Experiment and have FUN! It might take a few tries to get it just right. For a huge list of over 15,000 veganized recipes, visit VegWeb.com.
Almost ANY recipe can be turned into a vegan recipe. It’s not magic, but you might learn a couple of new tricks. And after a couple batches of cookies you’ll feel a whole lot better :)
Eggs are used primarily for two reasons in cooking and baking:
1. As a binder to help hold other ingredients together. Used in foods meant to be dense and chewy like in a "meat" loaf or for sweet treats like cookies.
2. As a leavening agent to help light and fluffy foods "rise" as in cakes and some breads.
VegWeb.com offers this wonderful, extensive resource listing dozens of egg substitutes for cooking and baking:
Ener-G Egg Replacer is a popular egg replacement made from potato starch, tapioca flour,
leavening agents (calcium lactate , calcium carbonate, and citric acid) and a gum derived from cottonseed.
Its primarily intended to replace the leavening/binding characteristics of eggs in baking (cookies, baked goods, etc.).
Baking Powder & Baking Soda
1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder + 1-1/2 tablespoons warm water + 1-1/2 tablespoons oil (use: leavening)
1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder + 1 tablespoon warm water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (use: leavening)
1 egg = 2 teaspoons baking soda + 2 tablespoons warm water (use: leavening)
1 egg = 2 teaspoons baking soda + 2 tablespoons warm water + 1/2 teaspoon oil (use: leavening)
1 egg = 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1 teaspoon vinegar (use: leavening)
1 egg = 1 teaspoon soy flour + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding + moisture)
1 egg = 3 tablespoons water + 3 tablespoons flour + 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable shortening, + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (use: leavening)
1 egg = 1/4 cup applesauce or pureed fruit (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 1/4 cup pumpkin puree or squash puree (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 1/4 cup apricot or prune puree (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 1/2 mashed banana (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 1/2 mashed banana + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (use: leavening)
Nuts & Seeds
1 egg = 3 tablespoons nut butter
1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons hot water (let stand 10 minutes) (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder + 3 tablespoons water(let stand 10 minutes; use: leavening)
1 egg - 1 teaspoon psylium seed husk + 1/4 cup water (let stand 5 mintues; use: binding and moisture) [u]Soy[/u]:
1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons lecithin granules + 1-1/2 tablespoons water + 1 teaspoon baking powder (use: leavening)
1 egg = 1/4 cup silken tofu (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 2 tablespoons arrowroot + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 2 tablespoons corn starch + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 2 tablespoons potato starch + 1 tablespoon water (use: binding and moisture)
1 egg = 1-1/2 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 tablespoons warm water (whisk to froth; use: leavening)
1 egg = 1-1/2 teaspoon tapioca/corn starch + 1-1/2 teaspoon potato starch + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
+ pinch xanthan gum + 3-1/2 tablespoons water + 1 teaspoon oil (whisk to froth; use: leavening)
1 egg = 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (use: leavening)
1 egg = 3 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon water (use: moisture and binding)
1 egg = 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (use: moisture and binding)
1 egg = 3 tablespoons mashed beans (use: moisture and binding)
1 egg = 3 tablespoons mashed potatoes (use: moisture and binding)
Egg White Substitutions
1 egg white = 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum + 1/4 cup water (let stand 5 minutes, then whip; use: leavening)
Egg Yolk Substitutions
1 egg = 1-1/2 tablespoons lecithin granules + 2 teaspoons water (use: moisture and binding)
Vegg is a relatively new, pre-made egg yolk replacement with the look, taste, and texture of egg yolk
In place of eggs for breakfast, tofu makes an yummy vegan scramble similar to scrambled eggs. Explore VegWeb.com and the internet for recipes for omelets, French toast, quiche and more!
You can use your favorite dairy-free vegan milk in cooking and baking. Vegan milks are made from a wide variety of ingredients like almonds, soy, rice, hemp, coconut, oats and more. They also come in a variety of flavors and consistencies. Experiment to see which ones best fit your tastes and needs.
Vegetable oils like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, etc. are vegan. Most cooking/baking fats other than butter (dairy) or lard (animal fat) are vegan. Find your favorite oils, shortening, and margarine and keep on cookin’!