There are many reasons people choose to go vegan. They may want to save the planet since studies have found that the greenhouse gas emissions from meat production are some of the worst culprits destroying our environment. They may struggle to eat anything that once had a face, for personal reasons. They may just want to lose weight and have seen the stellar bodies of many vegan celebrities who quit animal products. Some just go vegan to see if they can – kind of like when you stop drinking alcohol or stop eating sugar just to prove to yourself that you aren’t addicted to the stuff. These are all valid reasons, but they can become rather quiet in your mind when you have a serious hankering for animal products and struggle to find a way to satisfy that craving.
“My social life” is something many vegans say they miss the most after turning vegan. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that, if you want to be purely vegan, you’re almost forced to eat most meals at home. Attending dinner parties or meeting friends at restaurants leaves you feeling like a pest, because you make special requests, or you’re left hungry because you refused to be a pest. If you do go vegan (which I did for four years), there will quickly be some things that you realize are really difficult to replace. You’ll still have those cravings for them. Here are some of the most difficult foods to replace on a vegan diet, with alternatives.
Pizza is one of the top comfort foods. In fact, the Food Network reports that pizza is America’s favorite comfort food. For many of us, it’s a part of our fondest memories, like our childhood birthday parties or movie nights in with friends. So when you go vegan, you could find yourself scrambling to know what to do when the craving for pizza hits. Making your own will be the easiest way to control the ingredients because everything down to the dough will contain animal products if you order from most restaurants. I’ve tried many vegan pizza crusts on the market and have found that they either fall apart, are too thin, or are too dense. Banza makes really good pasta which I’ve eaten for years, and now I’m a fan of their pizza dough. It manages to have structure and doesn’t add any weird flavor to your food. You can load it up with toppings and it won’t fall apart.
Eggs often come up as something that my vegan friends miss. Not only are they needed in so many recipes, like just about anything baked, but they’re also easy staples to keep on hand for quick protein. Scrambled eggs are a classic breakfast food. What about hardboiled eggs packed in a picnic? Omelets are a great brunch item. You’ll find yourself missing all of this on many occasions when you go vegan. Made from a combination of soy powder, nutritional yeast, assorted seasonings, and a few other ingredients, Follow Your Heart VeganEgg comes pretty close to tasting like real eggs. You just mix a bit of the powder with water and your favorite vegan butter substitute to get something nearly identical to scrambled eggs.
Cheese is obviously a big loss when you go vegan. We’ll break cheese into two categories here: snacking and melting. Let’s start with snacking. If you were a connoisseur of fancy cheeses before quitting animal products, then you may have looked forward to sitting down with seedy crackers, a glass of wine, and expensive smelly cheese from time to time. So now what? You need to get to know The Frauxmagerie. They make incredible fake blue cheese, camembert, goat cheese, and a couple of others perfect for spreading on crackers. Each cheese has a base of cashews, along with vegan probiotics (good for your gut!), and nutritional yeast. They are also soy-free.
Now let’s talk melting. Between quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and veggie patty melts, there are a lot of things you’ll miss putting melted cheese on as a vegan. Nothing can really satisfy a craving for nachos with melted cheese besides exactly that. For faux mozzarella to put on pizza, Lisanatti Foods Mozzarella Style is a good choice. It’s made with almond milk and is free of trans fats. If you want something with a bit more of a punch, Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda Style Slices are a good pick. Vegan Field Roast Chao Slices are going to be ideal when you want something particularly creamy, like queso.
If chicken wings and tenders were a favorite snack for game day, or to have alongside pizza, it can be difficult to kiss that goodbye. Rollingreens Crispy Cauliflower Wings are ready to heat if you don’t feel like making anything from scratch. If you do want something with protein and the consistency of chicken tenders, Gardein makes some of the most authentic tasting vegan tenders, and because they’re made with soy and pea protein, they’re rather filling. When baked, they’re ready in 10 minutes. Their exterior becomes really crispy and they taste good with all the same dipping sauces you’d use with chicken wings.
Sour cream is that last pop that a lot of foods need. Potato skins, baked potatoes, chili, nachos and enchiladas are great examples of foods that benefit from it. It’s also the base for some really tasty dips. Bitchin’ Sauce is pretty versatile, and can be used as a topper to things like baked potatoes but can also be used as a spread. An oldie but a goodie, Tofutti Milk Free Sour Cream gets the job done and resembles real sour cream very closely. Kite Hill also makes a creamy, fresh-tasting vegan sour cream that’s made with almond and coconut milk and tastes very close to the dairy kind.
You need to keep tubs and tubs of coconut oil on hand if you’re going vegan. It hardens when chilled and melts when heated, like butter. It isn’t ideal for spreading on toast but it is good for sauteing or grilling foods in a pan, or for melting and adding to recipes that call for melted butter. If you are looking for something to spread on toast, put on pancakes, or smother your biscuits with, Miyokos cultured vegan butter is a top choice. It has a consistency and flavor very similar to unsalted butter. And if you were always a fan of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, their vegan variety is great for spreading on toast.
When thinking about living a vegan lifestyle, you might mainly think about saying goodbye to steak dinners, chicken sandwiches, burgers, pulled pork tacos, and things like that. But you’ll have to say goodbye to fish, too. If you’re a huge fan of sushi (like you used to treat yourself to it once a week type of thing), that can be hard to kiss goodbye. There are, unfortunately, not really vegan substitutes for things like raw ahi and salmon, however, Loma Linda Blue Sesame Ginger fishless tuna can make a good addition to a roll because of its seasoning. Tempeh tempura can also replace firm sushi fillers like baked crab or shrimp tempeh.
When your hunger is not messing around and you don’t have the patience for fork and knifing delicate sautéed tofu or making your way through a salad, there’s nothing like biting into a big, juicy burger with all the fixings to satisfy your needs. And even vegans deserve that. So if you haven’t yet tried the Impossible burger, get it. This is how similar it is to the real thing: you’ve probably already mistaken it for real beef in the store. When raw in its packaging, it looks identical to ground beef, but it is completely plant-based and really filling.
Italian wedding soup, sausage and eggs, sausage on pizza, and other spicy creations like these are hard to have on a vegan diet. Beyond Meat makes sausage links that have the consistency of real sausage, with the taut casing and crumbly insides. They make a few varieties too, including hot italian and bratwurst. For sausages you’ll crumble into things like soups and vegan omelets, you can’t go wrong with El Burrito Soyrizo. The seasoning mixture is perfect – slightly sweet and spicy – and it has a nice firm consistency that fries up well. It’s perfect for vegan sloppy joes or vegan taco night.