One thing veganism did for me was getting me more creative in the kitchen! You don’t have to eat and follow strictly vegan-only recipes. Wholefood alternatives are super cheap and inspire you to use your imagination. If you're looking to go vegan, or just want to spice things up in the kitchen, here are my top tips for veganising recipes and easy vegan whole food swaps.
Here, a great alternative would be tofu or oyster mushrooms - both full of protein! You can make tofu puffs by pressing the tofu, cutting it into cubes and coating in cornflour and frying in oil or for a healthier option you can bake them to get that chewier texture. Oyster mushrooms have that stringy chicken texture and a lot of people love to fry them in batter to make fried chicken for burgers or wings.
One of my favourite meals at the moment is chickpeas mashed with lemon, tahini and nori to make a tuna alternative which is great for salad and added to a baked potato. Banana blossom is also great for fish recipes and is especially used when battered with nori and capers to make fish and chips, it's now available in most supermarkets and really cheap.
Any veg with a meaty texture works here, especially aubergine and mushrooms. You can make aubergine steak by putting it under the grill with any seasoning like teriyaki, BBQ, harissa - the list is endless! Mushrooms can be added into a dish to add a meaty flavour or chopped up to make a mince alternative for bolognese and chilli - the same can be said for lentils!
Tempeh works really well for this as a pork chop or mince alternative as it’s high in umami and has a dry, firm texture. Young jackfruit is a great alternative to pulled pork, just add bbq sauce, seasoning, bake/fry and add to burgers and tacos. This is also ready to buy in cans now in most supermarkets - just make sure it’s young.
Dairy can be more time consuming to make whole food as opposed to buying (which is super easy these days), but can be really fun and rewarding to make. The easiest milks to make would be oat and cashew and there are tons of recipes online for this - they usually require a blender, cheesecloth and water. The same goes for vegan cheese which can be made using cashews and follows a similar process. I've made all before and found it so easy, cheap and there's something quite fulfilling about making your own milk & cheese!
Canned coconut milk is also naturally vegan and can be shop bought - great for curry dishes, but if I run out I do sometimes use oat milk which can cream up a dish if needed.
Another option would be to make your own seitan, which is really fun as you can buy seitan flour (also known as vital wheat gluten) pretty cheap and it’s really flexible. You can create anything from steak to chicken. I made a steak alternative with this, beetroot juice and lots of herbs and spices - your friend when veganising dishes as most non-vegan dishes are loved for their seasoning and sauces.
And don’t worry about not hitting your protein goals with these vegan swaps, it’s kind of a myth and you can easily get your recommended amount with the right diet. Studies have also shown we don’t need nearly as much protein as we consume. And if you’re really worried, track your protein intake with an app like My Fitness Pal - you’d be surprised, especially if you try the seitan!
You can also buy meat, fish and dairy alternatives but it’s always fun to play with veg and less processed produce.
And remember, meat, fish and dairy replacements are for those who used to eat meat, or even still do and may be looking for an alternative, we’re just looking for a way that doesn't harm animals and helps our planet!
Can you think of new ways to veganise a dish you love? I'd love to know, follow me on Instagram at @thepiscesvegan, a safe space for inclusivity and non-judgment when it comes to learning all about veganism, and tag me in your creations.
Written by Lucy Hird - @thepiscesvegan