Here’s to a healthier, kinder, and more environmentally sustainable future! Okay, let’s not talk about bacon or cheese. Let’s talk about chili, stir fries, and muffins. Below are five ridiculously easy things you can do to invisibly veganize your cuisine. By invisible I mean that, in a blind taste test, you wouldn’t know the dish is vegan.
1. Join Harvard, 7-Eleven, and many others and dump the mayonnaise: use Hampton Creek’s vegan Just Mayo instead. Winner of a Serious Eats blind taste test, it’s clearly freaking out Big Mayo (a.k.a., Unilever, maker of Hellmann’s/Best Foods), which stupidly sued teeny weeny Hampton Creek to try to force them to change the name—a move that epically backfired.
2. Replace eggs in baking and cooking with apple sauce, flax seeds, a banana, or one of these. If you want a twofer, also swap in nondairy milk for the dairy. And by the way, pancakes and waffles work just fine sans eggs—you don’t even need a substitute. (Add some nuts or vegan protein powder for more oomph.)
3. Try meat substitutes. Seriously, the new generation, like Gardein and Beyond Meat, is amazing: great taste, texture, and appearance; also, not too much salt and relatively straightforward ingredients. They are often soy- and gluten-free. The Clever Housewife did a blind taste test of Beyond Beefy Crumbles with her family and neither spousal unit nor child units noticed; and Bill Gates invested in Beyond Meat after he couldn’t tell the difference between the company’s chicken product and real chicken.
Most supermarkets now carry these products, so…check out our freezer! At the end of a busy day we pop one of these babies into a stir fry, chili, casserole, or sauce with a bunch of veggies, and we are there. Here’s a giant page of meat (and other) substitutes.
4. Swap out the superfluous. Many breads, snacks, condiments, and other packaged foods contain superfluous dairy or egg. Check out PETA’s ginormous list of “accidentally vegan” foods to see if there’s a swap you can make.
5. OMG, TRY THE DESSERTS. Vegan. Desserts. Rock. You get all the sweetness and flavor, with less grease and weight (and calories, cholesterol, etc.) That means you can eat more of them! Check out the vegan dessert page of Chloe Coscarelli, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars; and non-bakers should know that you can buy premade vegan desserts at many supermarket bakeries. Also, there’s a lot of fabulous nondairy ice cream out there. My favorite brand is Coconut Bliss, and of course we’re all waiting to see what Ben & Jerry’s does with their new vegan line.
For more ideas, check out one of the bazillions of vegan cookbooks out there, or Google “vegan _____,” filling in the name of your favorite ingredient or dish. You will probably find some surprising equivalents. I once randomly (ahem) searched for “vegan Tootsie Rolls” and found that they exist in the form of TruJoy Choco chews. In the service of my cause (ahem), I did a taste test and found them to be good and true.