By Amit Mehta Nutrition

Switching to vegan food choices

Veganism is a lifestyle that rejects using leather, silk, cosmetics that are tested on animals, and eating any animal derived food. Going vegan is a process which, for many, begins with switching to a plant-based diet and avoiding any animal products, even honey. Transitioning to a plant-based diet by gradually phasing out meat, dairy and eggs is much easier now, since there are vegan alternatives for these items. You can now find vegan milk, meat, yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream!

Here are a few vegan food alternatives to your favourite non-vegan items:

Plant-Based Milk

Milk is one of those items that you have consumed since a child, which can be difficult to give up. Now, plant-based milk alternatives can be made from legumes (soy), cereals (oats, rice), nuts (almond, cashew, and coconut), seeds (flax, hemp) or other grains (quinoa, teff). You find plant-based milk quite easily now at your grocery store. You can also easily make it home as well, if you have the time. Plant-based milk can be used in tea, coffee, smoothies, baking, and cooking. You no longer have to feel like eating your favourite cereal is not possible.

Vegan Butter:

Butter lends fat and flavour to food and is often used as a spread on bread, to dress cooked vegetables or meats, or as a cooking or baking ingredient. The non-dairy butter alternatives available are either made from vegetable oils, coconut or nut butters like peanut butter, or almond butter.

Plant-Based Meat:

Eating less meat is not only better for your health but also for the environment. Mock meat comes very close to replicating the taste and texture of meat. You can find mock meat in the form of bacon, sausages, burger patties, and pork. You can also opt for tofu or tempeh. They also make for a great meat substitute. Another good alternative are soy nuggets, which taste great in curries and any dish that needs a meat substitute.

Vegan Cheese:

Cheese is one of those items that we have developed an addiction to.  People love cheese, whether it is sprinkled over pasta, added in a sandwich, or simply served with some crackers and wine. Luckily, there are some delicious, and quite real-tasting, cheeses that do not contain dairy, so you can enjoy a pizza without worrying about any digestive problems.  It is easier to replicate the texture and even the flavour of soft cheese. You can find soy and nut-based versions of cream cheese, as well as dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free versions made from a blend of vegetable oils, tapioca starch and pea protein isolate. You can also make homemade cream cheese or soft crumbly cheese using almonds or cashews.

Vegan Yogurt:

Plain yogurt is a versatile food. In addition to being a breakfast and snack food, it can be used in salad dressings, dips and marinades, or to simply accompany your dishes. As with non-dairy milk, substitutes for yogurt are made from nuts, seeds, coconut and soy, and are made by adding probiotic bacteria. This can also be made at home.

Vegan Ice Cream:

You read right, vegan ice cream. The food item that no one can live without. Fortunately, non-dairy ice cream options include creamy ice creams made from coconut milk and soy milk, and sorbets. Sorbets are made without dairy or plant-based milk. If you feel like experimenting, you can make homemade ice cream. For this you will need plant-based milk, frozen bananas,  and berries or another fruit which you want the flavour to be.

Start your journey today to a more compassionate and cruelty free way of eating and living. A vegan diet is not boring and includes some of your non-dairy items as well. Not only will you reap the health benefits for a plant-based diet, but also discover that living without dairy products and milk, is not hard. Give it a try!

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