Vegan Cooking For Dummies
Many assume a vegan diet forces you to avoid lots of ingredients, foods, and favorite recipes. However, stocking your vegan kitchen with some basic ingredients and making simple ingredient substitutions mean you can cook vegan meals easily without sacrificing flavor and excitement.
Ingredients to Avoid on a Vegan Diet
Although most people know vegan diets should avoid dairy- and egg-based ingredients, sometimes other nonvegan ingredients aren’t so easy to spot. To keep your diet vegan, check food labels to avoid these lesser-known animal-based ingredients:
Albumen: Made from eggs, milk, and animal blood.
Bone char: Derived from animal bone ash. It’s used to process white sugar.
Carmine or cochineal: Red pigment made from crushed beetles. It’s found in foods, supplements, and makeup.
Casein: A cow’s milk protein.
Methionine: Essential amino acids made from eggs or cow’s milk.
Pepsin: Made from hogs’ stomachs.
Rennet: An enzyme made from calves’ stomachs.
Whey: Made from milk.
Basic Ingredients for the Vegan Kitchen
Vegan cooking can seem intimidating, but always keeping a few basic vegan ingredients in your kitchen can bolster your confidence. Stock your kitchen with the following vegan basics so you always have the ingredients for a healthy, cruelty-free meal:
Whole- and cracked-grain porridges and boxed cereals
Bulk whole grains: Brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, barley, spelt berries, oat groats, kamut, teff, and rye berries
Whole-grain pastas in various shapes
Whole-grain baking mixes
Cornmeal polenta: Bulk, boxed dry, or premade
Frozen whole-grain pancakes, waffles, tortillas, and pizza crusts
Breads: Whole-grain loaves (sliced, frozen, or locally made fresh), pita bread, tortillas, bagels, rolls, English muffins, baguettes
Beans: Adzuki, anasai, black, black-eyed peas, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), cranberry, gigante, great Northern, lima, pinto, mung, navy, and soy
Lentils: Brown, green (also known as French), red, or yellow
Naturally brewed soy sauce
Frozen foods: Spinach, peaches, cherries, blueberries, edamame, broccoli, beans, peas, and lentils
Nuts: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans
Seeds: Sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax
Sea vegetables: Arame, kelp/kombu, dulse, and shakers from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables
Boxes or cubes of vegan vegetable stock, sea salt, and black pepper
Making Vegan Substitutions in Nonvegan Recipes
Just because you’ve become vegan doesn’t mean you’re ready to give up Mom’s classic nonvegan recipes. Luckily, you can often make ingredient substitutions to make those recipes vegan-friendly. Try these vegan substitutions in nonvegan recipes:
Use crumbled tempeh for ground beef in tacos, burritos, casseroles, pasta sauce, or old chipped beef recipes.
Try nutritional yeast flakes instead of Parmesan cheese on top of pasta dishes or air popped popcorn.
Cut up seitan to replace chunks of chicken or meat in spaghetti sauce.
Try shredded Daiya or Follow Your Heart brand vegan cheese instead of cow’s milk cheese in casseroles, grilled cheese sandwiches, or mac and cheese.
Substitute almond, rice, hemp, soy, oat, or other nut milks in place of cow’s milk for baking, cooking, or drinking.
Replace one egg in baking with 1/4 cup mashed tofu, 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds simmered with 3 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan until thickened, or 1/3 cup of mashed banana.