When I became vegan, I was exposed to the world of meatless and dairy-free products that I didn’t even know existed, even when I was a vegetarian. Maybe it was because during most of my years as a vegetarian, I didn’t live near more natural grocery stores like Sprout’s, Trader Joes, or Natural Grocers (which does help, but doesn’t make it impossible to find vegan substitutes at other stores). Or maybe it was because Fry’s (where my family always shopped) didn’t carry some of these products at the time and as they have grown in popularity, they are supplying the demand for them. I don’t know why I didn’t know but I know now that there is an alternative for every dairy product and pretty much every meat product. It’s fuggin’ fantastic!
I have tried most of these products shown below and I can say that they are not gross and some are better than the real thing. Of course, some of them don’t taste like what they are replacing. Like Daiya cheese, the first time I tried it I really wanted to spit it out, but I had to remind myself that I couldn’t expect it to taste like the product of cow milk.
Now, Daiya cheese is sooo good to me and I have almost forgotten how non-vegan cheese tastes. So, I recommend that if you are going to try these products, don’t expect that they will taste like what they are replacing because they are healthier and don’t have the gross qualities of the real thing. I’m sure many people will try them and find that they actually like them more, but you won’t know until you try.
I hope this can serve as a resource to anyone who may be new to veganism and don’t know where to start or for people who just want to decrease their meat/dairy intake for various reasons. Since some of these products can be relatively expensive, like the vegan processed meats or cheeses, I don’t purchase them often and I treat them more as a delicacy (except for vegan milk and tofu, they are staples in my diet!). These are also highly processed foods which serve as good crutches, but are not healthy to eat everyday — they help pave the way for eating more whole foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.
Some Vegan Alternatives for Standard Foods in the American Diet
1. I never really ate sausages before I was a vegan or even a vegetarian because they really grossed me out by how greasy they are. I’ve tried Tofurky’s sausages as a breakfast side and they’re not bad. Field Roast sausages are the best though, they are really full of flavor and are not very greasy. Since they’re relatively expensive (around $5 for 4 links), I’ve only had them a couple of times. Highly recommend giving these a try!
2. Lightlife’s Smart dogs are my favorite vegan hotdog brand and I swear, they taste exactly like the real thing. The best part is that you can read on the label what the actual ingredients are, opposed to conventional hotdogs whose ingredients include ‘mechanically separated chicken, pork, and turkey’, which just means puree of bone, bone marrow, skin, blood vessels, muscles, and scraps of mystery meat. To say conventional hotdogs are gross, would be an understatement.
3. Tofurky is scrumptious and it’s made out of humanely raised, cage-free Tofurkies that live in grasslands around the U.S.. (Teehee).
4. There are so many different plant-based milks in the grocery stores today, it’s pretty damn amazing. From hemp milk, to cashew milk, most of them have the same, if not more nutrients and calcium than cow milk… Plus there are some disgusting things lurking in cow milk, but I won’t mention them in this post. My favorite plant based milk is flax because it has Omega-3 healthy fats, lots of protein, and is rich in flavor.
5. Follow your Heart cheese shreds and Daiya cheese are pretty damn delicious, especially on a pizza or in a grilled cheese! They make me wonder how I could’ve ever been addicted to cow milk cheese…
6. All vegan yogurts are very different. Some are too runny, some have an odd texture, and some just taste weird. My favorite yogurt was from the brand Silk because it tasted and felt exactly like regular yogurt, but then I found out that they can’t label their yogurt as vegan because of some manufacturing process…(About 2 minutes ago, I just read that they have changed that and they’re new yogurt is 100% vegan and will be coming out this month! HELLL YESSS!) So yeah, Silk is still my favorite.
7. ‘Chicken’ vegan products come in many shapes, flavors, forms, and textures. I can’t say that there is one brand that is my favorite, they’re all pretty great.
8. I never really cared for eggs. I haven’t tried any egg replacers, I’ve only tried a flax egg (ground flax seed mixed with water) in something I was baking and it worked pretty well. I have heard good things about Follow your Heart’s vegan egg, so maybe I’ll try it soon.
9. There are so. many. plant. protein. meat. alternatives. Tofu, tempeh, hemp tempeh, jackfruit, seitan, cauliflower, texturized soy protein show that we do not need to consume animals for protein, iron, and other nutrients. Plants give us all we need!
10. Vegan butter tastes like regular butter. That’s about all I got to say about butter.
11. Just Mayo and Vegenaise taste just like conventional mayo.
12. Ahh, ice-cream. My favorite brand of vegan ice-cream is So-Delicious, but whenever I’m craving ice-cream I just blend some frozen bananas with a dash of cacao and it tastes exactly like ice-cream. If you’re cheap like me, this is the way to go when that sweet tooth is callin’.
I know some might wonder…
Why would I try these products when I could just get the real thing (sometimes for a lesser price)?
Well, just a few health-related reasons why:
- Processed meats like sausage, bacon, ham, hotdogs, and red meat increase chances of cancer, obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
- The World Health Organization classified processed meat as a carcinogen (causes cancer) and red meat as a probable carcinogen (something that probably causes cancer).
- Cholesterol is only found in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Eating less of these products will lower cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.
- ‘The Standard American Diet’ is high in meat, sugar, dairy, and highly refined and processed junk ‘foods’, so it comes to no surprise that the #1 cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease. More info here
- Reducing consumption of animal products and increasing whole plant food has a wide range of benefits including; helps treat acne, helps with weight control, slows the aging process and much more listed here
- Carcinogenic industrial chemicals, pesticides, and other harmful pollutants are in all animal products including arsenic (chicken has the highest amounts out of all animal foods, it’s fed to them to kill internal parasites caused by their cramped and unhealthy living conditions and to make their meat ‘look’ more pink), more info here.
These are just a couple of reasons why animal products are slowly killing us… What’s worse is that the dairy, meat, and egg industries, helped by the USDA, are constantly telling us to eat more animal products. Have you ever seen an advertisement telling you to eat more broccoli? Of course not. Each year, USDA-managed programs spend $5500 million to advertise to eat more animal products, creating slogans like “Milk makes you strong, low-fat dairy is healthy” and other BS.
Here’s a short video to further explain:
Plants are incredible and nutritious. I hope you can give some of these products a try.
Questions? Hated or loved this post? Let me know by commenting below. Thank you for reading! Cheers.