Whether you're investigating a full transition to veganism, looking to totally embrace Meat Free Mondays or wanting a dinner party swap for a vegan guest, we've got you covered.
With more than 2.2 million Aussies now following a totally plant-based diet, it's the fastest rising food trend of the past year. But if finding a flavourful alternative to your favourite food is keeping you from making the jump to veganism, Gemma Davis, naturopath and author of The Compassionate Kitchen, promises it's easier than you'd think to find a vegan swap to most animal-based products. Here are five easy trades she recommends.
1. Swap regular milk for a non-dairy alternative
"This is an easy place to start, especially now with so many wonderful non-dairy options on the market," says Gemma. "There is soy, coconut, almond, rice, macadamia milk and then combined options. The textures vary, and it is good to explore which one you prefer, whether it be the lighter, sweeter rice milk or the creamier coconut milk. But with all commercial nut milk, you want to also make sure you're buying the ones with the least amount of ingredients and without added sugar and flavours."
And it's not just milk you can trade, Gemma adds. "This expansion of non-dairy milk has trickled into all dairy products which means you can also buy wonderful coconut-based yoghurts, chocolates, fruity sorbet ice-creams and nut cheeses. Many people find this swap also helps with digestive issues since its estimated over 80 per cent of us stop producing the enzyme lactase needed to digest dairy products after the age of five."
2. Swap mince for Tempeh
Whether it's chicken, beef, pork, veal, turkey or lamb, mince is an Aussie dinner table staple. But you can still enjoy your favourite pasta sauce, burger, meatballs and more with a vegan twist, promises Gemma.
"Try swapping minced meats out for a tempeh – fermented soybean - found packaged in the fridge section of your supermarkets. It is high in protein and has a similar texture and a nutty, earthy flavour that absorbs whatever sauces you may use in your normal recipes. You can chop it into tiny pieces, sauté it and even blend it up to make into vegetable patties for your burger."
3. Swap hen eggs for flax or banana “eggs”
It's tough to imagine baking without a traditional egg. But Gemma has a handy solution.
"For cooking instead of using eggs to bind our recipes together, you can swap them for a flax ‘egg’, which is made by combining one tbsp of chia seeds with 2-3 tbsps of water. The chia seeds expand in the water to make a sticky, gluey substance that has the same effect as an egg to bind. They are flavourless so don’t affect the taste of the recipe.
Another swap? "Mashed up bananas work wonders in pancakes in the same way and add a natural sweetness that is a bonus," says Gemma.
4. Swap chicken for chickpeas
"You may not want to swap the BBQ chicken for a bowl of chickpeas (there are other options for this) but when you are using chicken in stir-fries, curries or even as a filling in your sandwich, chickpeas are a wonderful, high protein and nutrient substitute as a straight swap," says Gemma. "In sandwiches, blend them up into hummus or add chickpeas to your salad for a tasty and healthy lunch."
5. Swap bacon for mushrooms
"Whether it be your cooked Sunday breakfast or your favourite Caesar salad, mushrooms are a great hearty swap for bacon," promises Gemma. "There is such a wide variety of mushrooms and they taste great either fried or baked, with some olive oil, salt and either some herbs or a dash of tamari."
The Compassionate Kitchen contains over 70 delicious cruelty-free, plant-based recipes and is on sale now.