How to Veganize Your Favorite Recipes

When moving to a plant based diet, cooking without foods such as butter, eggs, or cream can seem daunting. However, there are substitutions available and you’ll be surprised at how well they work.  Some of these substitutions have been around for ages, perhaps arising out of necessity during economic hardship, while other methods were inspired by cooking methods from other cultures. Although some may seem counter-intuitive, give them a try, you’ll be glad you did.

For substitutions, follow this basic formula:  When a recipe calls for ____, use ____ instead.


Setain (wheat gluten)
(TVP) textured vegetable protein
Vegetable or nut mixtures


Vegetable broth
Vegetable bouillon cubes


Coconut oil
Vegetable oil: 1/3 cup oil = one stick of butter (1/2 cup)


Soy milk with acid: Mix 1 cup soy milk with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Then, let the mixture sit until it separates.


Canned coconut milk


In Baking:
For egg whites: Use agar agar powder mixed with water according to the package directions
For whole eggs: 1 ripe mashed banana = 1 egg
For dense baked goods, like brownies and cakes: ¼ cup pureed silken tofu = 1 egg

For Baking In General
1 tablespoon applesauce = 1 egg
1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons water = 1 egg (combine and let sit for a few minutes before using)

As A Binder:
Mashed potatoes
Bread crumbs (blended)
Tofu (blended)
Cooked rice or oatmeal
Nutritional yeast
Flax meal
Tomato paste


Canned coconut milk: Put a can of coconut milk in the fridge for 48 hours.  Open it up and use just the solidified top layer.


Soy milk (Recommended for baking because it’s a bit thicker than almond or rice milk)
Almond milk
Rice milk
Oat milk
Coconut milk
Hemp milk


Crumbled tofu (In place of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. (Adding a little miso can give a ‘blue cheese’ flavor))
Cashew cheese
Nutritional yeast
Vegan cream cheese (Available in various flavors and without hydrogenated oils)


Vegan mayonnaise: Available in canola oil, expeller-pressed canola oil, grape seed oil, and organic expeller-pressed soybean varieties


Agave syrup
Maple syrup
Golden syrup
Date syrup

SUGAR (without the use of bone char in processing)

Beet sugar
Unbleached sugar

Sarah Jung
Sarah Jung

Sarah Jung is the associate director of Life and Health Network, but wears a plethora of hats as editor, communications director, and sometimes photographer. Unrelated to Life and Health, Sarah is the country director and founding member of Oon Jai Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower people living in developing countries through friendship and working, learning, and mentoring side-by-side with the locals. In her spare time, Sarah likes to read, write, and find mountains to climb.

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