• November is vegan month, and in honour of that we have looked at aspects of veganism like the best plant-based protein sources and the different types of non-dairy milk. Today, we have rounded up the best substitutes that can be used to turn any recipe plant-based.

    Substitutes for meat


    Firm tofu is a super versatile meat replacement. Since it holds its shape when being cooked, it is perfect for baking and frying and therefore works well in curries, stews and stir-fries. On top of this, tofu takes on the flavour of whatever it is cooked with, which means that it will complement whichever dish that it is used in.


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    Tempeh is similar to tofu in that it is also soya-based, but has a lower water content and is therefore much firmer and has a different texture. Tempeh is also a fermented food, which means that it is good for your gut. One popular way to use tempeh is as an alternative to bacon, the one thing that many meat eaters say that they couldn’t live without!


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    This has had a relatively recent rise in popularity and is generally used in place of ingredients like pulled pork or chicken due to its texture. It has a neutral taste meaning that it is able to absorb sauces and marinades well. Jackfruit can most often be found in tins, and most often in specialty vegan shops.


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    Seitan is made from gluten, and is a great high-protein alternative that is loved by people with allergies to soy. Like other meat alternatives, it has a very mild flavour, which means that it will go well in any dish. It is most often used as a replacement for chicken due to its similar texture, but can take the place of a variety of meats.

    Substitutes for dairy

    Plant-based milk

    Non-dairy milk alternatives are growing in popularity, and as such there are a huge variety to choose from. From oat milk to soy milk, there is a plant-based milk out there to suit everyone.

    Coconut milk or cream

    For recipes that require a creamy aspect, coconut milk or coconut cream is a great alternative. It has a different taste to dairy cream, but coconut milk adds a delicious sweet flavour to the dishes that it is a part of.

    Cashew cream

    If you are looking for a replacement for cream with a more neutral flavour, cashew cream is the way to go. It has a very mild taste and mimics the creaminess of dairy cream really well. Cashew cream is increasingly available in specialist vegan stores, but it is also super easy to make at home. Try our homemade recipe here.

    Vegan butter/margarine

    The most common alternative to butter in vegan cooking is margarine – perhaps the most obvious substitute on this list. However, margarine is often soft and spreadable and as such doesn’t always perfectly take the place of butter in many baked goods. For this reason, plant-based ‘butter’ that comes in solid blocks, just like traditional butter, is the best option for all of your baking needs.

    Substitutes for cheese

    Yes, cheese is technically dairy! However, we felt that it needed its own section.

    Vegan cheese

    Often made from coconut oil or cashews, vegan cheese is becoming more and more common in traditional grocery stores. Some great options include the dairy free cheese from Woolworths, the Hello V or Violife brands often found at Checkers, and the locally made Fauxmage brand.

    Nutritional yeast

    If you want to mimic a cheesy flavour, but aren’t worried about using a direct replacement for cheese, you might want to think about giving nutritional yeast a try. A sprinkle of this is sometimes used instead of a sprinkle of parmesan on top of pasta, or to give a cheesy flavour to vegan mac and cheese.

    Silken tofu

    Tofu really is one of the most versatile vegan ingredients. Silken tofu can be blended into desserts in place of cream cheese, and is often used to mimic the texture of ricotta.

    Substitutes for egg

    Flax or chia eggs

    In baking, one of the best ways to replace eggs is to use a flax or chia seed ‘egg’. These are made by grinding up flax or chia seeds and mixing them with water. This creates a gelatinous mixture, which can be used in baking to replicate the binding capabilities of eggs.


    Aquafaba is the liquid from tins of chickpeas or beans. Most often, aquafaba is whipped instead of egg whites to make a vegan meringue, however it can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, and even to make vegan mayonnaise.

    Silken tofu

    For those who are looking to replace their scrambled eggs in the morning, silken tofu is your answer. The texture of silken tofu makes it perfect for making a vegan version of scrambled eggs or even an omelette.

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    READ MORE: Vegan baking essentials – Global pantry

    Vegan baking essentials – Global pantry

    Featured image: Airam Dato-on via Unsplash

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