Easy Vegan Substitutions

By: Cooking Channel
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On Log On & Eat with Eden Grinshpan, Eden travels the country to meet the most outrageous and original food bloggers and social media stars who invite her to devour their favorite dishes. We connected with them to pick their brains and score some exclusive advice and tips.

Every non-vegan in the world seems to be asking: “What are a bunch of easy substitutions I can use to make vegan versions of the dishes I love and have them taste exactly the same?"

I have some good news and some bad news for you: Sometimes it works perfectly, and sometimes a substitution can be great but just different than the taste of the meat or dairy it's trying to emulate.

First, substitutions that taste great but not necessarily exactly the same:

With dishes where the actual taste of the meat is the main attraction, there will be differences. Many veggie burgers and "chicken" sandwiches can still be great, even if they do not taste 100 percent like the meat they were meant to emulate. I think many actually taste better. Veggie dogs can also be awesome.

To me this is not really a drawback, as of course substitutions are going to taste a bit different — they are different. Many veggie meats of today are drop-dead incredible, thanks to today's commercially available products along with the wizardry of what some restaurants are making and what you can make at home. And I don't mean you-have-to-think-about-the-health-benefits incredible; I mean simply incredible. You only have to go to a Native Foods restaurant or a Veggie Grill to see what I mean by this.

Vegan cheeses are quickly catching up. What was in my opinion horrible just several years ago is quickly becoming amazing in many applications. An example of this is Daiya brand vegan cheese shreds, great in mac and cheese, nacho cheese sauces, grilled cheese sandwiches and on pizza.

Now, the substitutions that work flawlessly well:

Flavorfully sauced dishes that use Asian, Indian, BBQ or Buffalo sauces — and other things like that — work really well when you use vegan meats such as seitan (wheat protein), tofu, tempeh or some mixture of soy and wheat proteins. The vegan protein chunks have a flavor of their own; however, in dishes such as these, the sauce really carries the flavor.

Many Asian stores often offer a huge selection of prepared vegan meats. These are often great in Asian-style dishes.

Agave is a perfect substitute for a light, sweet honey.

I personally like coconut, soy or almond milks in dishes such as potato leek soup, or when I'm making a vegan cheese sauce, but I do not like them so much on their own.

Egg replacer powders flawlessly replace the binding aspects of eggs in baking.

Vegan butters such as Earth Balance are incredible.

All in all, there are many great vegan substitutions these days for anything under the sun. I encourage you to try these, as well as dishes that are just naturally vegan and do not contain any form of meat or dairy substitute. Expand your palate and give up no amount of taste with vegan meals.

For more information, check out these videos showing vegan cooking with meat substitutes and vegan cooking without meat substitutes.

-- Vegan Black Metal Chef

Watch Vegan Black Metal Chef on Log On & Eat with Eden Grinshpan, Tuesday, November 19, at 9:30pm ET.

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