When we (my husband and I) first decided to go from vegetarianism to veganism, my biggest fear was how I would live without a few of my most beloved ingredients. When I drank coffee, the thought of not putting cream in it was almost horrifying. You see, I didn’t just put cream in my coffee, I used full-fat whipping cream and in a pinch, 18% table cream. I used butter for most of my cooking and baking and I especially loved it on baked potatoes…lots of it. The thought of giving up grilled cheese sandwiches and comfort food like macaroni and cheese scared me a little. How was I going to manage?
Much to my delight we have both adapted very well and I miss none of my previous must-haves. One Christmas, we were gifted a Nespresso machine with a milk frother. We now use the frother to make a wonderful addition to our coffee using Pacific Hazelnut chocolate milk (a product SPUD carries) and enjoy it very much. Frothers can be purchased separately so even if you have a regular coffee maker you can get one for this purpose. Also, there are several vegan creamers available (SPUD carries several) and the best thing you can do is try them and use the one that you like the best. For my breakfast tea, I use unsweetened cashew milk made by Earth’s Own, another SPUD product. It doesn’t curdle and tastes just like dairy milk in my morning beverage. In pretty much all dessert recipes, instead of butter, I substitute it with coconut oil. For anything savoury that I normally used melted butter in, I now use avocado oil. It tolerates high heat, is virtually tasteless and lends itself very well to butter based recipes. There are several vegan butter substitutes on the market as well and again, you will find them at SPUD.
Any recipe that I used from the past that called for milk, I now use unsweetened cashew milk with great success. In a past post, I mentioned that I make my own cheese and typically, I use the very same cashew milk as my base ingredient. Cheese, especially sharp cheddar has been a challenge to replace but I have also noticed that my taste buds have adapted to the change in my diet. Currently on the market there are several cheese substitutes, some better than others and there are new ones coming out every day. SPUD carries many and I recommend trying different ones until you find ones you like the best. Cheesecakes and creamy desserts typically rely on a base of raw cashew nuts, soaked and blended with lemon, vanilla and a sweetener (I use maple syrup). I have served my vegan cheesecakes (without saying anything) many times and every time my non-vegan friends rave about it, coming back for seconds.
So you see, though the prospect of doing without your favourite animal based ingredients may seem daunting at first, with a little education, they can easily be replaced with a vegetable based substitute. Experimentation mixed with a little adventurism is my philosophy to keeping my mind and body healthy and so far it is working well!