Six Ways to Go Invisibly Vegan in 2016
Here’s to a healthier, kinder, and more environmentally sustainable 2016! Okay, let’s not talk about bacon or cheese. Let’s talk about cupcakes, chili, and stir fry. Below are six ridiculously easy things you can do to invisibly veganize your cuisine. By invisible I mean that, in a blind taste test, you wouldn’t know the dish is vegan.
- Join Harvard, 7-Eleven, and many others, and dump the mayonnaise: use Hampton Creek’s vegan Just Mayo instead. It tastes so great that Unilever (maker of Hellmann’s/Best Foods) sued Hampton Creek to try to force them to change the name— a move that epically backfired.)
- Replace eggs in baking and cooking with apple sauce, flax seeds, a banana, or one of these. If you want a twofer, also swap in nondairy milk for the dairy. And, by the way, pancakes and waffles work just fine sans eggs—you don’t even need a substitute.
- Try meat substitutes. Seriously, the new generation of products, like Gardein and Beyond Meat, is amazing: great taste, great texture, not too much salt, and relatively straightforward ingredients. Also, often soy-free and gluten free. Check out the photo of my freezer—at the end of a busy day we pop one of these babies in a stir fry, chili, casserole, or sauce, and we are there. Here’s a giant page of meat (and other) substitutes.
- Swap out the superfluous. Many packaged foods contain superfluous dairy or meat ingredients, and in many cases it’s easy to find substitutes. Check out PETA’s ginormous list of “accidentally vegan” foods, which includes dozens of breads, snacks, condiments, and prepared foods, to see if there’s a swap you can make.
- OMG, TRY THE DESSERTS. Vegan. Desserts. Rock. You get all the sweetness and flavor, with less grease and weight (and calories, cholesterol, etc.) That means you can eat more of them! Check out the vegan dessert page of Chloe Coscarelli, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, at your peril; and non-bakers should know that you can buy premade vegan desserts at many supermarket bakeries.
- DESSERTS II. Also, there’s a lot of fabulous nondairy ice cream out there. My favorite brands are Purely Decadent and Coconut Bliss, and of course we’re all waiting to see what Ben & Jerry’s does with their new vegan line.
For more ideas, check out the bazillions of vegan cookbooks out there, or Google “vegan _____,” filling in the name of your favorite ingredient or dish. You will probably find some surprising equivalents. I once randomly (ahem) searched on “vegan Tootsie Rolls” and found that they existed in the form of TruJoy Choco Chews. In the service of my cause (ahem), I did a taste test and found them to be good and right.
Hillary Rettig is author of The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way (Lantern Books, 2006). www.lifelongactivist.com