The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Plant-Based Diet Substitutions for Meat, Eggs, and Dairy: Find out how you can still eat your favorite foods

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010

(Source:; by J. Ellen Fedder, Oct 11, 2009)

You don’t have to give up your favorite meals when switching to a plant-based diet. You simply need to make some substitutions, and the newer dish will likely be more nutritious, higher in fiber, and void of cholesterol. To learn substitution choices for meat, eggs, and dairy, read on.

Substitute Rice, Almond, Soy, Nut, or Grain Milk for Dairy 

You can substitute a cup of cow’s milk with a cup of rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, nut milk, or grain milk. Some popular name brands include: Rice Dream, Almond Breeze, and Silk. Most large grocery store chains handle a wide variety of non-dairy milks. Look for varieties that are fortified and unsweetened. For a more complete list of non-dairy milks, see sources below.

Substitute Rice, Almond, or Soy Cheeses and Yogurts for Dairy

Also found in most large grocery stores are soy cheeses, soy-based sour creams, and soy yogurt. In addition, your local health food stores usually carry a variety of non-dairy cheeses and yogurts–many made by the same companies that make non-dairy milks.

What about cottage cheese? Is there a substitution that comes close? Yes, you can use mashed tofu in place of cottage cheese in some recipes.

What about a substitute for butter? Is there a substitution for this condiment? Yes, you can find butter-like spreads that use extra virgin olive oil or cold-pressed canola oil in place of real butter.

What about whipped topping? Is there a creamy substitution for this food? Yes, you can purchase or make your own whipped topping of tofu, liquid sweetener, lemon juice and vanilla.

Substitute Flaxseed, Banana, Baking Powder, Tofu, or Ener-G for Eggs

There are several ways to substitute eggs in baked goods. You can mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water for an egg-like consistency or use a small mashed ripe banana. You can use a small amount of baking powder for a little leavening action, or a couple tablespoons of soft tofu works well. Finally, you can use Ener-G, a tapioca/potato-starch product that substitutes for eggs in baking.

When cooking a more savory dish, you can use ground nuts or tofu and a combination of nuts in place of eggs. For scrambled eggs, there are vegetarian recipes that incorporate tofu and a variety of spices to achieve the color and texture provided by eggs. What’s more, you can purchase packaged tofu-based mixes that make up into some fairly believable and tasty scrambled egg-like meals.Substitute Packaged Meat Alternatives for Beef or Chicken 

In place of ground beef, you can find similarvegetarian products that come in fresh or frozen varieties. Several companies offer a vegetarianground round in original, Italian, taco, or sausage varieties. In addition to fresh or frozen packaged meat alternatives, dry textured soy protein can be reconstituted with boiling vegetarian soup stock or water.

One popular commercial vegan meat alternative is the Boca Burger. Substituted for a patty of beef, the Boca Burger looks and tastes close to beef–with no cholesterol and no animal product ingredients. Slather on mustard and ketchup, and most folks don’t even recognize it as a soy patty.

You can also substitute textured soy protein or gluten-based protein alternatives in place of chicken in your dishes. Soy protein takes on the flavor of what you cook with it. Get creative with your spices, and you can make texture soy protein taste comparable to beef or chicken.

If you like the convenience and taste of packaged meat alternatives, a wide variety of meat alternative products are available in the freezer section most large supermarkets. Legume-based, gluten-based, and grain-based meat alternative products come in deli slices, meat patties, and sausages. But you can make your own meat alternatives from scratch using beans, grains, or tofu.

Substitute Portabella Mushroom for Meat Patty

Another tasty substitution for a beef patty is a large portabella mushroom. Portabella mushrooms have a meaty mouth-feel and can be served in place of meat in familiar foods. If you’ve never grilled one before, the taste is worth the experiment.

Whether you create your own meat substitutes or you go for a packaged meat alternative, you can turn those cholesterol-laded meals you used to eat into non-cholesterol, high fiber dishes for better health.

Sources: Vegetarian Food, Tofu Scramble

Getting more flaxseed Into Your Diet

Soymilk Instead of Dairy

The Vegetarian Site, Easy Substitutes for Animal Products

Vegetarian Journal, An Updated Guide to Soy, Rice, Nut, and Other Non-Dairy Milks

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One Response to “Plant-Based Diet Substitutions for Meat, Eggs, and Dairy: Find out how you can still eat your favorite foods”

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