With the right ingredients, a vegan diet can be as sumptuous as any other. This list is a guide to help take the mystery out of what to use as an alternative. I’ve listed both commercial products as well as recipes to make your own. Of course I recommend making your own because it’s healthier and cheaper!

When first transitioning to a vegan diet, some feel the need to add fake animal products, such as fake meats and cheeses, to their meal plan. That’s fine if it helps you move away from the cows and remove saturated fats from your diet. But remember, many of these packaged items are highly processed and you may be better off without them. So please be aware and ALWAYS read the label for the list of ingredients.

Hidden Animal Sources
Most packaged products in our stores are well labeled to indicate whether or not they meet vegan requirements. However, it is always to good to check ingredient lists to ensure you know what you’re getting. Sometimes, foods you wouldn’t normally associate with animals contain their by-products.

Look out for:

  • Gelatin – Usually derived from by-products of the meat and leather industry, gelatin is often found in gummy bears, marshmallows, soups, sauces and gel caps (think supplements). Vegan alternatives are sometimes available and are generally labeled.
  • Sugar – Is often filtered through charred animal bones as part of the bleaching process. You can avoid this by looking for unbleached sugar products or ones that are labeled “vegan.”
  • Soups – Many canned and restaurant soups use chicken stock or broth as a base. Even miso soup often has a dashi broth, which is made using seaweed and bonito (a type of fish) flakes. Always check the ingredient list or ask the chef or server.



Substituting for dairy is straight forward, usually at a 1:1 ratio (1 cup nondairy milk to replace 1 cup milk). Same rules apply to yogurt, sour cream and butter.

  • Milk – Adds flavor and richness and creates texture in baking.
  • Cream – Creates a smooth and sometimes fluffy texture in baked goods. It adds richness, and makes for a satin-like quality.
  • Butter – Adds flavor and a rich and sometimes a spongy texture in baking. It also helps baked goods rise evenly and adds to both the density and sweetness.
  • Vegan shortening or margarine – Works well with cookies and pie crusts.
When a recipe calls for… Replace with…
Cow’s or goat milk Homemade nondairy milks

Vegan milks

Buttermilk Combine 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
Creamer full-fat coconut milk

Vegan creamers

Sour cream Tofu Sour Cream

Vegan sour creams

Whipped cream Coconut whipped cream

Vegan whipped creams

Ice cream Vegan ice creams
Yogurt Vegan yogurts
Dairy Butter coconut oil

vegetable shortening

Vegan butters



Replacing cheese in a traditional recipe can be simple or one that requires a little bit of effort, depending on availability in your area. You can use a 1:1 ratio when substituting. There are countless recipes for making cheese alternatives with ingredients such as cashews, walnuts, tofu, nutritional yeast, maca powder, agar and miso that are delicious and gives you a powerful nutritious boost!

When a recipe calls for… Replace with…
Cheese Vegan cheeses
Nacho cheese sauce Chipotle Nacho Queso



For the most part, eggs are used in a recipe as emulsifying, binding, leavening, or structure-giving agents. If a recipe calls for only one egg, it can usually be omitted – just add a little extra liquid to the batter. Other baked goods can be made by substituting each egg with one of the following:

When a recipe calls for… Replace with…
Binding in baked goods (1 egg per recipe) 1-1/2 tsp Ener-G or Bob’s Red mill egg replacer + 2 tbsp water

2 tbsp cornstarch, arrowroot, or any starch + 2 tbsp water

1 tbsp ground flaxseeds + 3 tbsp water

1/4 cup blended silken tofu

1/4 cup insweetened applesauce, mashed banana, soy yogurt, or blended silken tofu

Leavening in baked goods (2 to 3 eggs per recipe) 1-1/2 tsp Ener-G or Bob’s Red mill egg replacer + 2 tbsp water

1 tbsp mild-flavored vinegar + 1 cup nondairy milk to curdle (works best used in recipes that involve baking soda)

1/4 cup nondairy yogurt

Moisture in baked goods 1/4 cup coconut milk

1 tsp oil or nut/seed butter +1/4 cup nondairy milk

1/4 cup fruit or vegetable puree

Egg white Aquafaba (the liquid from canned or homemade chickpeas)

1-1/2 tsp Ener-G or Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer + 2 tbsp water

1 tbsp agar powder +1 tbsp water, whip, chill thoroughly, then whip again. (Not recommended for recipes using 2 egg whites)

Binder in savory foods 1-1/2 tsp Ener-G or Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer + 2 tbsp water

1/4 cup blened silken tofu

2-1/2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water

2 tbsp tomato paste or vegetable puree or unsweetened nut/seed butter

2 tbsp flour, starches, bread crumbs

Leavening in savory foods 1/4 cup blended silken tofu
Scrambled eggs and Baked eggs Tofu Scramble


Vegan scrambled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs Extra- or super-firm tofu
Mayonnaise Tofu mayo

Vegan mayos



When a recipe calls for… Replace with…
Shortening Crisco, Earth Balance, Nutiva, Spectrum brands



When subbing a vegan protein for an animal-based equivalent in a recipe, you generally use the same weighted measure (for 6 oz of beef, use 6 oz of a beef-style seitan)

Remember, many of these packaged fake meats are highly processed and you may be better off without them. So use more whole foods such as mushrooms, beans, nuts, tofu and tempeh.

When a recipe calls for… Replace with…
Bacon Coconut bacon

Rice paper bacon

Shiitake bacon

Tempeh bacon

Vegan bacon brands

Beef Mushrooms, tofu, beans, tempeh, nuts, seitan, hearts of palm

Tofu Ground Meat

Vegan meat brands

Hamburgers Mushrooms, tofu, beans, tempeh, nuts, seitan

Vegan hamburger brands

Beef broth Vegetable broth

1 tbsp steak sauce and 1 tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1 scant cup plain vegetable broth

Better than Bouillon No Beef Base

Chicken Vegan chicken brands
Chicken broth Vegetable broth

Better than Bouillon No chicken base

Pork Hearts of palm, unripe jackfruit
Seafood Carrot Lox

Tofu Krab cakes

Tun-o salad

Sophie’s Kitchen, Gardein brands

Cold cuts and Hot dogs Carrot dogs

Vegan alternatives

Sausage Beet pepperoni

Vegan sausage brands



When a recipe calls for… Replace with…
Honey agave nectar

coconut nectar

maple syrup


rice syrup

yakon syrup

Gelatin agar-agar

fruit pectin

guar gum

locust bean gum

Food dye beet, tomato, spinach, carrot or blueberry juice or powder

store-bought natural food dye


Use the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible. The guide will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic.

The Dirty Dozen

The Clean Fifteen

See the full list of all 48 fruits and vegetables.


Download our Vegan and Veg-friendly Restaurant Guide in the San Diego area.
VeganDiego! (Lists of San Diego county vegan restaurants, businesses, and coupons)


Happy Cow
Vegan Restaurant Finder
Veg Dining
Veg Guide
Peas Love Carrots