Soya, rice and oat milk
These are used as an alternative to cows' milk by vegans and people with a cows' milk intolerance or allergy. They have become increasingly popular and can be found in supermarkets and even corner shops.
The various brands of non-dairy milk are quite different in taste so it is worth experimenting. Unsweetened soya or oat milk can be used in savoury cooking.
Other alternatives to dairy
As well as the non-dairy milks above, there are dairy-free replacements for cheese, yogurt, cream, custard and ice cream.
This is useful in potato salad and coleslaw and as a general accompaniment to salads. Purchase in 1.5 litre tubs from Plamil or try our three-minute recipe.
TVP (textured vegetable protein)
This can be bought as chunks or mince and used in place of meat.
Tempeh is made from fermented soya beans. It has a very good taste and comes as a solid block which can be sliced and fried. It can also be cut into chunks and put into stew and goes particularly well with tomatoes.
Tofu is nutritious and versatile. Plain tofu is bland so can absorb any flavour, savoury or sweet. It can be used in stir-fry, pies, scramble, salad and sweet dishes such as chocolate mousse. Firm tofu can be chopped into chunks: try marinating it in soya sauce with spring onions and garlic. Silken tofu is good in dishes such as scramble, cheesecake and vegan cream.
Seitan is made from wheat gluten. It has a firm texture and can be cut into chunks and used in pies and other savoury dishes.
Chestnuts and mushrooms
These give a rich flavour and can be used where a chunky texture is required.
Green and puy lentils
These can be used in place of mince for dishes such as spaghetti bolognese, chilli non carne and shepherd's pie. Also try crumbled smoky tofu as a replacement in these dishes.
Couscous is made from wheat and can be used in salads.
A nutritious and tasty grain which can be used in a similar way to rice.
These popular beans have a nutty flavour and a good texture. They are very versatile and can be used in salads, soups, dips, falafel, hummus, curries and other dishes.
Red lentils can be used to thicken soups and casseroles and are well known for their use in lentil dhal.
Sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
All these seeds are rich in nutrients and can be added to salad, stir-fry, burgers and nut roast. A light toasting will bring out the flavour of the seeds: try adding a little soya sauce straight after the seeds come off the heat.
Alternatives to gelatine
Gelatine, which is an animal product, can be replaced with agar flakes or Vege-Gel.
Nutritional yeast flakes
These have a cheesy taste and can be used to flavour many dishes.
Oils and margarines
Vegetable oil is an easy replacement for animal oils. Rapeseed oil has the best temperature stability for cooking while extra virgin olive oil is best used cold.
Vegan margarine can replace butter and margarines that contain animal fats or milk products. Large catering tubs are available from Suma. Smaller tubs are available from most supermarkets: look out for those labelled as vegan.
With vegan vegetable stock in your larder you can quickly convert many soups, sauces and gravies into vegan options, so it is an indispensable item. Yeast extract, miso and most brands of soya sauce can also be used to give a rich 'meaty' flavour.
It is important to ensure that your vegetable stock, bouillon or soya sauce is suitable for vegans, since some contain milk products.
Honey is not suitable, but there is a multitude of other sweeteners that are vegan. Examples are maple syrup, agave syrup, date syrup, molasses, concentrated apple juice and fruit jam, or just use sugar and water.
Glazes and pastas
To replace egg glaze on pastries and breads simply use soya milk. Likewise replace egg pasta with egg-free pasta.
It is important, but easy, to check the ingredients in ready-made food. Many are labelled and The Vegan Society can help if required. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any query.