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Seven Easy Food Swaps For A Vegan Diet | My Veganuary Journey

***As part of my Veganuary journey in 2020 I’ve decided to share some information that I’ve discovered on veganism over the month. It’s important to note that I’m no expert – I’m still very much in the learning stage of veganism and have included sources below for any scientific claims. My main goal is to help others should they also decide to try the lifestyle out!***

If you’re vegan or taking part in Veganuary (or even if you’re not) then you most likely will have noticed a whole host of different food companies bringing out new vegan ranges for January. There’s never been so much choice for vegans! Even if it comes down to profit it’s still a great situation for veganism as plant-based food becomes more accessible.

Apart from the beautiful vegan sausage roll from Greggs and Aldi’s new jackfruit pizza, I haven’t really gone out of my way to try any of these new vegan creations – as wonderful as they are, they’re not always great if you’re going vegan for health reasons as meat substitutes often contain a lot of sodium and/or additives (source: The Guardian). However, that doesn’t mean that your new vegan diet just got more complicated – far from it, because there are already so many ways to create tasty and fulfilling meals using natural swaps instead. Here are seven great ones to start out with!

***This post contains affiliate links***

Seven Easy Vegan Food Swaps Title Image
Background image by silviarita from Pixabay

Chickpeas instead of chicken in curries and stews

One of our first vegan meals for Veganuary was a chickpea and tomato curry – a curry I’ve had before and have always enjoyed. Chickpeas are an excellent meat alternative in a curry as they’re not too strongly flavoured and work really well with all sorts of different herbs and spices. They’re common in Moroccan food, but they’re also excellent in Indian and other curry and stew-focused cuisines. Chuck in some spinach alongside them and you’ve got a really healthy meal!

Tomato and chickpea curry vegan recipe
This is a recipe we’ll definitely be having again

Lentils or black beans instead of beef mince

Lots of beef mince substitutes such as Quorn aren’t actually vegan, so sometimes it can be tough finding a suitable alternative. Unless you have lentils or black beans in your cupboard of course, which create a tasty and healthy option that’s packed with protein. Lentils are excellent for roasts and bolognese, whilst black beans work perfectly with burritos and other Mexican dishes.

Maple syrup or agave syrup instead of honey

Honey was an animal product that I was really worried about giving up as I used to use it so much – it was my most common porridge topping, and I’d incorporate it in loads of baked goods and savoury meals. Thankfully there are two great alternatives out there that mean you won’t miss honey ever again. Agave syrup from the agave plant is very similar to honey, except slightly thinner, and maple syrup is just as indulgent. Both are incredibly versatile and make excellent sweeteners.

Vegan alternative to honey - maple syrup
Image by piviso from Pixabay

I wouldn’t describe either as particularly healthy for the amount of sugar (but then I wouldn’t really consider honey as healthy for the same reason), but since purchasing maple syrup I’ve found it a godsend, and I’m totally in love with its sweet, almost nutty flavour.

Coconut milk instead of single or double cream

Creaminess is an important factor in many meals, including curries, soups, and pasta dishes. Alongside milk alternatives such as soya and oat, coconut milk is an excellent way of really thickening up a sauce and making it seem like it’s loaded with cream. Many Indian and Thai recipes already use coconut milk, making it a really easy one to find recipes for, and its mild taste means that it won’t interfere with the flavours of whatever you’re cooking. Always remember to shake the can thoroughly before pouring it into the mixture though!

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Baking soda, vinegar, or seeds instead of eggs for baking

The other animal product I was really hesitant to give up was eggs – not only did I used to eat one to three a day, but I also used them frequently for baking. Fortunately there are loads of swaps you can make for eggs when it comes to baking cakes and other creations, such as flax seeds or chia seeds with a bit of water, or a dash of vinegar or baking soda. Even banana works well! I recently made a gorgeous American pancake recipe using baking soda, and you honestly couldn’t tell that eggs weren’t involved.

Vegan pancakes
Who would know there were no eggs in these lovely pancakes?!

Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate

There’s a reason that I found week one of Veganuary so easy, and that’s because I had a whole bag of dark chocolate salted almonds to hand! Unlike milk and white chocolate, dark chocolate generally contains no animal products whatsoever (although it’s always good to check the label, just in case). This means that you can eat as much as you want, and stores such as Hotel Chocolat, Thorntons, and even supermarkets offer some great dark chocolate options.

Dark chocolate vegan snack dairy-free
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The really great thing is that dark chocolate, whilst not the healthiest vegan product, is healthier than milk or white chocolate – it’s a great source of iron, plus you’ll generally find yourself consuming less dark chocolate each time than the other types due to its richness of flavour. It’s a win-win!

Nutritional yeast flakes instead of cheese

This is an alternative I’d never heard of before going vegan but they’re really quite nice! Whilst nutritional yeast flakes don’t have the texture of cheese (I’d describe them as a tasty sawdust) they can really help to add that cheesy flavour – perfect for typically dairy-heavy dishes that feel just a little bit empty without that sharpness that a good-quality cheddar or parmesan can bring. You can generally find them in the free-from section of the bigger UK supermarkets, and they can be added to dishes simply by sprinkling it on top of whatever you’re about to feast on.

What are your favourite food swaps for vegan-friendly food? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin!
You can check out my other posts in the Veganuary 2020 series here:

Things To Watch Out For When Going Vegan
Useful Resources For Beginner Vegans
Great Vegan Recipes For Beginners
What I’ve Learnt From Going Vegan

Veganuary Easy Food Swaps Vegan Veganism Pinterest image

14 thoughts on “Seven Easy Food Swaps For A Vegan Diet | My Veganuary Journey

  1. This is a great post to help people switching or trying to be vegan.
    Red lentil curry is one of my favourite dishes to make and the vegan galaxy orange is amazing. Definitely try them!
    I love using coconut milk in cooking like you mentioned, I personally think it adds more flavour than cream did.
    Thank you for sharing!
    Alyssa
    The Sacred Space AP

  2. This is all of the best subs in one post! I remember chickpeas (for curries), lentils (for soup) and black beans (for stir fries) were total game changers when I went vegetarian. Me and my OH honestly prefer grating a block of cream coconut for Indian curries rather than using milk or cream these days.

      1. I need to start doing my own Thai Green curries, the shop bought ones always have way too much lemon grass in. Ooh, another sub I use is squares of silken tofu and garlic/onion-salt and nute instead of cheese in Saag Panneer (Indian spinach curry). Or a little bit of silken tofu in smoothies if I’ve run out of milk-free protein powder.

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