Vegan Wonder

Unlock the Secrets of Vegan Cooking: How to Veganize Your Favorite Non-Vegan Recipes

It’s time to embrace the green goddess within and ditch the chicken parmesan for something a little more moo-free. But where do you start? We’re here to help you navigate the sometimes-tricky waters of vegan cooking, so you can enjoy delicious, plant-based versions of your favorite dishes.

Understanding the Vegan Conversion Process

Your journey to vegan cooking begins with understanding how to transform non-vegan recipes into vegan ones. This means identifying which ingredients need to be swapped out and learning which plant-based alternatives to use.

Common animal-based ingredients to replace include:

  • Beef, pork, and other meats
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products
  • Honey

Many people turn to soy products as a one-size-fits-all solution for replacing meat and eggs. However, there are many other plant-based options to choose from, depending on the specific recipe and the desired texture and flavor.

Dairy Substitutes

Dairy-free milk alternatives include soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, and coconut milk. For cheese, there are many options like:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Cashew-based cheeses
  • Soy cheese
  • Coconut milk-based cheeses

When it comes to eggs, there are a variety of options depending on the role the egg plays in the recipe. For binding ingredients together, a flaxseed or chia seed “egg” (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed or chia seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons water) works well. For leavening, a 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce can replace eggs in some baked goods. And for emulsifying, you can use a ripe mashed banana or 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce.

In terms of protein sources, there are many options like:

  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Seitan (wheat gluten)
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes

Now that you have a better understanding of what ingredients to use and how to use them, it’s time to get cooking!

Veganizing Baked Goods

When it comes to baking, the process of converting a non-vegan recipe to vegan involves more than just swapping out ingredients. You’ll also need to adjust the ratio of wet to dry ingredients.

For example, vegan flour (all-purpose flour that doesn’t contain eggs) doesn’t have the same binding properties as regular flour. So you may need to add a little more liquid to your recipe to achieve the desired texture.

Another important consideration is the leavening agents you use. Baking soda is vegan, but some brands of baking powder may contain animal-derived ingredients. So make sure to read the label carefully.

With a little trial and error, you’ll soon master the art of vegan baking and be whipping up delicious cakes, cookies, and pastries in no time.

Transforming Savory Dishes

When it comes to savory dishes, there are many delicious plant-based options to explore. For example, seitan (pronounced “say-tan”), which is made from wheat gluten, can be used as a meat substitute in recipes like meatballs or sausages. And tempeh, which is made from fermented soybeans, can be used as a substitute for chicken in stir-fries or as a base for vegan tacos.

Instead of using butter, you can use a plant-based oil like olive or coconut oil. And for sauces and creams, you can use:

  • Cashew-based sauces and dips
  • Coconut milk and nut-based cream substitutes

To make a simple cashew cream, blend 1 cup of raw cashews with 1 1/2 cups of water until smooth. You can also add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice for extra flavor.

One of our favorite vegan comfort foods is mac and cheese. To make a creamy cashew-based cheese sauce, blend 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews with 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until smooth. Cook 1 pound of elbow macaroni according to package directions, then mix with the cheese sauce and bake in the oven until golden brown.

Veganizing Comfort Foods

There’s nothing like a big bowl of chili on a cold winter night. But what do you do when you want to make a vegan version? The good news is that beans are the star of the show in most chili recipes, so all you have to do is swap out the meat for more beans. And for a savory, umami-rich flavor, you can add:

  • Miso paste
  • Soy sauce
  • Liquid smoke

Adapting Family Favorites

One of the best things about vegan cooking is that you can veganize your favorite family recipes. So if lasagna or shepherd’s pie is on the menu, don’t worry – you can still enjoy these dishes, plant-based style.

For a vegan version of shepherd’s pie, cook 1 pound of lentils with 4 cups of water, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup tomato paste, 1/4 cup red wine, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt until the lentils are tender. Top with mashed potatoes.

To please the whole family, we recommend transitioning non-vegan eaters gradually. For example, you can start by making vegan versions of some of their favorite dishes once a week, and gradually increase the frequency as they get used to the new flavors. You can also balance out vegan meals with plant-based sources of protein like nuts, seeds, legumes, and tofu to ensure everyone is getting the nutrients they need.


We hope this guide has inspired you to get creative in the kitchen and try your hand at some vegan cooking. Remember, the key to success is experimentation – so don’t be afraid to try out new recipes and ingredient swaps. And most importantly, have fun with it!