Put Down the Kale: Easy Plant-Based Substitutes for Cooking and Baking
There are many reasons why you might want to switch to a plant-based diet. Such a diet may reduce heart disease, and research shows it might even reduce your chances of getting cancer. It’s also great for the environment because animal products take a great deal of resources to bring to market.
If you decide to try a plant-based diet, you don’t have to completely give up meat or dairy, but you likely do want to reduce your intake. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a proponent of an animal-free regimen, recommends eating 90 percent plant-based foods to get the benefits of the diet.
One barrier to adopting a plant-based diet is that many of the foods we love to cook have animal products in them. Thankfully, many wonderful substitutes exist that can help you stick to your plant-based goals.
Eggs are an important binder in many baked goods, but you can substitute them. No Meat Athlete has a great chart that shows different plant-based replacements for eggs. Some of the best include one-half banana or one-quarter cup of applesauce, either of which works best with sweet baked goods like muffins or dessert breads. For savory recipes, you can use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons of water for each egg substituted.
Butter may make it better, but luckily, there are many delicious vegan substitutes. Most of these plant-based dairy substitutes come in tubs, which is fine for spreading on toast, baked potatoes or any other treat that requires a bit of fatty goodness, but one brand, Earth Balance, has buttery sticks that are easier to use for baking.
Shortening is usually used for baking, especially pie crusts. In the past, shortening was made from lard, but these days, vegetable shortening is very common, and it’s often free of animal products. For a healthier alternative to shortening, which is high in trans fats, use coconut oil instead.
Cheese is a reason given by many people for not being able to eat a fully plant-based diet; it’s so delicious and actually has addictive properties. In the past few years, many vegan cheese substitutes that have great texture and taste have entered the market; some are so good they could be mistaken for the real thing. A few options to try include Follow Your Heart slices, which many vegans absolutely swear by, or nut cheeses, which are usually made from cashews and give any dish a creamy texture.