Going plant based was the cornerstone for changing my life. It is hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am happier, fitter, slimmer, more toned, vibrant, compassionate and connected with the divine. I love inspiring people to transition to eating more plants, but I understand it can feel tricky and overwhelming when trying to find plant based alternatives to your favourite animal foods.
In this post I have put together a guide to assist you in opting for healthier, plant based foods over the standard animal products, along with recipes to help.
This is probably one of the easiest products to substitute. You can use soy, rice, oat, coconut or nut milks like almond, cashew or macadamia. Taste each flavour and choose your favourite. Make them raw by making your own at home. Here is an easy recipe for how to make almond milk. You can swap the almonds for your nut of choice.
Cheese is one of the hardest products to give up because it contains casein which literally triggers the addictive chemical in your brain to keep you coming back for more. But don’t worry, there are some delicious and healthy alternatives! You can purchase nut cheeses at your health food store that look and taste exactly like cheese. Or click here to make your own recipe. My favourite flavour is cashew cheese. When you want to sprinkle cheese on top of a pasta bake dish for example, nutritional yeast is perfect for this, and it’s loaded with B vitamins too.
There are vegan margarines on the market that work well as a substitute for butter. Be sure to read the labels because not all margarines are vegan. These usually contain unhealthy additives, so I would recommend using raw alternatives instead. In place of butter you can use coconut butter, tahini or avocado which all have the same buttery and creamy texture. Here is an easy homemade butter recipe if you’re interested.
Nut and coconut yogurts are a great substitute for dairy based yogurts. Here is the best organic coconut yogurt for people in Queensland, Australia. Healthy yogurts are easy to make at home and here is a super easy recipe for cashew yogurt. All you really need are cashews, water and probiotics.
The quickest alternative for cream is organic coconut cream which you can buy in a tin from a health food store. Here is a recipe for cashew cream – it’s SO easy and delicious! You can also make it into a savoury sour cream to go with a vegetable chilli dish or nachos.
A lot of vegan mayonnaise products from the store are filled with added chemicals you don’t want to be consuming. Your best bet is recreating your own version at home. Here is a simple and yummy recipe using cashews.
I think you can’t go past raw chocolate. Truly raw chocolate hasn’t been heated and is cold pressed, or stone pressed cacao beans, that have been made into cacao paste. It is the most unprocessed form of the raw cacao bean and is what REAL chocolate actually tastes like. Eating raw chocolate is a wonderful way to get antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and iron into your diet. It might take some getting used to, but the more you eat it, the more you’ll get to love it. It is rich, dark, decadent and healthy. My favourite brand is Loving Earth (Australia) and David Wolfe’s Sacred Chocolate (America) – simply divine!
There are many dairy-free ice cream products, on the market now like Cocofrio, which is coconut based. Just head to your nearest health food store and check out the freezer section and I’m sure there will be a variety of options.
Or, my favourite – ice cream made out of frozen bananas. This might sound a little strange, but trust me, when you blend frozen bananas it creates a perfect base for creamy ice cream, and then you can add raw cacao powder for chocolate flavour, or vanilla and dates for a vanilla flavour. Here is a plain recipe to get your started, and following that is a heavenly chocolate ice cream recipe you must try!
Swap your scrambled breakfast eggs for this yummy scrambled tofu recipe which is very high in protein. You can even make a plant based veggie omelette. It might seem crazy, but there are so many healthier options out there, you just gotta get creative!
Eggs in baking
Baking without eggs can be very tricky in the beginning and may take some trial and error. There are things like apple sauce, flax and chia egg (1 tbsp chia/flax mixed with 3 tbsp water), mashed bananas, or psyllium fibre that work well for binding. These all act a little different though, so make sure to do some research before trying one out.
Beef or chicken stock
Vegetable stock is a simple substitute for animal stock and then you don’t have to worry about consuming any added hormones or chemicals. Purchase organic stock or make your own and adjust the flavours to your liking.
Steak, fish and chicken
There are many companies manufacturing products which you can find in the supermarket that look and taste exactly like meat. You can find veggie deli slices (ham, turkey, and other flavours), veggie burgers, “meatballs”, veggie sausage patties, veggie “bacon”, veggie ground “beef,” soy “chicken” patties and nuggets, veggie “meatloaf” and even whole “turkeys”. Honestly, I’m not a fan of these as they are processed, packaged foods, but if you’re slowly transitioning to a plant based lifestyle and you can’t give up meat yet, these products have a similar taste and texture.
Otherwise start getting creative and whip up some vegan “meatballs” or raw vegan “meatballs” at home for you and your family. Everyone is bound to love them. You can even make nut pates for dinner parties.
Pulled jackfruit is a fruit which can actually be substituted for meat. When you cook it, it has the taste and texture of meat. Jackfruit can be bought fresh, frozen or canned and you might be able to find them at your local fruit stores.
Mushrooms can also be used as they have a meaty texture. Vegetables in general can be turned into “meat” dishes like this incredible burger.
Tap water has added fluriode and chemicals which are toxic to our health. Instead, choose to drink clean, pure water like distilled water, low mineral spring water, reverse osmosis, and when possible, avoid plastic bottles.
Black tea and coffee
Many peoples’ bodies don’t respond well to caffeine. All herbals teas are a fantastic alternative to these beverages. Roasted dandelion tea is great for anyone wanting to quit drinking coffee as it looks and tastes quite similar. If you choose to drink black tea and coffee, ensure it is organic.
Coconut water is high in electrolytes and potassium which is great for working out and supporting cardiovascular health. If you can get your hands on fresh coconut water straight out of the husk – even better! Freshly squeezed fruit and/or vegetable juice, or a blended smoothie is full of enzymes and minerals to nourish your cells and keep you feeling vibrant and energised.
White, refined sugar is one of the biggest poisons added to processed food. Please – chuck that stuff out! There are so many fabulous alternatives, including raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, brown rice syrup and dates.
Condiments and spreads
Traditional tomato sauce from the supermarket has added colours and chemicals and is loaded with refined table salt. Opt for organic, sugar-free tomato sauce from a health food store. Or better yet, make your own.
Always choose organic pasta sauces from a health food store or make your own fresh sauces at home. They taste 100 times better than store bought – I promise! Here is a simple rich tomato pasta sauce recipe or a creamy green pesto pasta sauce.
Again, bread spreads from the supermarkets have added fats, salts and chemicals. Grab organic and natural spreads from the health food stores. They have your favourites like peanut butter and other delicious varieties like almond, cashew and walnut butter, and combinations of these. There is also a chocolate hazelnut butter that tastes exactly like nutella. If you haven’t tried them, they will honestly blow your mind! Avocado is another obvious ingredient you can spread on your bread.
Table salt is toxic and is heated up to a temperature where it has lost the majority of the eighty important elements that are naturally occurring. Always go for either sea salt or pink himalayan salt which is chock full of healthy minerals. Celery or seaweed salt are other ingredients which add a salty flavour to foods.
Homemade or organic store bought bread like spelt is a much better option than the gluten filled, processed bread in a supermarket.
Essene bread is by far the best bread you can buy. It is raw and sprouted, meaning enzyme inhibitors are broken down so your body can more easily absorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. It contains no flour, sugar or anything artificial. The Essene Company truly makes the best bread, and they also make tortillas.
Lettuce leaves can also be used as a bread base for you to fill with your favourite sandwich ingredients.
White flour is highly processed and can be substituted with quinoa, buckwheat, millet, brown rice, almond or coconut flour.
Starchy, white pasta can be substituted with brown rice or quinoa pasta, and buckwheat (soba) noodles with their lovely earthy flavour are also a delicious alternative.
I love making raw pasta dishes like my cashew pesto pasta recipe, using zucchini noodles. You can also use cucumber, beetroot or carrot noodles.
You can usually find organic corn or other vegetable chips at your local health food store. A popular brand is the colourful and fun blue corn chips.
The best option would be kale chips which are raw, crunchy, flavoursome and deliciously addictive. This is my favourite brand in Australia, and here is one for other countries. They are so much tastier than potato chips in my opinion.
Most health bars have an endless list of questionable ingredients such as chemical additives, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Here is a great brand with a variety of flavours. Raw revolution is another great option.
I hope this guide helps and please share it with friends who you know are trying to transition to healthier eating.