Those who think of tofu broilers now are – luckily – wrong. For a real vegan hardly eats these products. They may be a gimmick of marketing but, as to taste, they tend to be unconvincing.
Replacing animal products by vegetal products means in the first place to be able to exchange everyday ingredients in the kitchen. Among these are milk, yogurt, cheese, sausage, meat and eggs. Most of these can be replaced 1:1 in a way that you do not miss anything, although you will have to forget the taste of a T-bone steak, unfortunately. Besides you will get to know several new foods, which may help you to overcome the loss of others. Besides, animal components in many products do not have any effect on taste, they only serve as fillers or thickeners. It is exactly these components that can often be replaced easily with ingredients that are common in every kitchen.
In the following passages you will come across new terms for we all have been used to deal with animal foods from our childhood. Do not be concerned about this, all of these can be bought in organic stores, supermarkets and above all in online shops.
In the meantime, you can buy vegan alternatives to minced meat, schnitzel, sausage, burgers and nuggets in nearly any discounter. There is a vast choice but do not be disturbed if you are disappointed at the taste of the alternatives. There are big differences in this respect.
Meat surrogates are usually based on soy or wheat. What is healthier and often even tastier is to cook yourself. Minced meat, bacon bits or meat strips can be replaced by (smoked) tofu, soya meat or seitan.
Many tests, partly in TV magazines, have shown that most people cannot tell a difference from the original product.
Still, many people wonder why vegans try to imitate schnitzel, sausages, steaks and burgers in the first place. There is a simple answer to it:
On the one hand, the sausage and burger shapes are ideally suited for frying foods. Or, have you ever tried to fry something in the shape of a ball?
On the other hand, it is great if you can imitate the taste of things that many people love. And if this can be done without all the negative effects on nature, our fellow human beings, our health and on animals.
It is similar here. In discounters, a large amount of purely vegetal substitutes for sausage is available and more still in organic stores.
Liver sausage can easily be home-made with mashed smoked tofu and kidney beans (at a rate of 1:1), seasoned with soy sauce, salt, marjoram and fried onions – an incredibly healthy food. In most cases seasoning makes the difference. (Even turkey breast has no real taste if not seasoned.)
Vegetal spreads can be a good substitute of sausage. Their choice is immense, they are tasty and can be bought nearly everywhere. They are usually made from tomatoes, egg plants, lentils, sunflower seed and many more.
The genuine taste of eggs can hardly be substituted. The taste of ripe avocado comes closest to it, especially together with sulphur salt. Scrambled eggs, however, can be adequately imitated with soft tofu and almond butter.
Eggs as thickening agents are absolutely superfluous, if not absurd. Just imagine you eat a fried egg with chocolate cake. Ripe bananas, apple sauce or soy meal as well as egg substitute powder (e.g. No-Egg) make a dough as soft and fluffy as an egg.
There is a large number of vegetal drinks made from soy, rice, barley, almonds and other nuts to be bought even in discounters. It is worth trying some of them to find out which you like best. Soy milk is best suited for baking although only few will like the pure taste of natural soy milk. But soy milk is also offered with flavours like 'sweet', 'chocolate' or 'vanilla'. There is a wide choice of products of Silk, Provamel, Alnatura and Alpro, but also other suppliers offer a big choice.
Barley drinks or soy-rice-drinks are best suited for muesli. It must be mentioned that the term 'milk' may not be officially used for vegetal drinks. For this reason you will only find soy 'drinks' but no soy 'milk'.
Meanwhile there is a wide range of vegan cheese to be bought. Just keep your eyes open when you go shopping. In addition, there are several tasty kinds of cheese made with cashew nuts.
You will find many recipes in the internet.
Honey can be substituted easily, especially if is used to refine dressings or pastry. The commonest alternatives are agave, maple, pear or apple syrup, which are available in nearly any supermarket.
Gelatin is a substance for thickening that is made from animal bones. Sometimes it is used in baking and it is contained in many kinds of wine gum. Meanwhile many vegan kinds of wine gum can be bought, and in baking 'Agar-Agar' is a suitable substitute for gelatin.
Soycream is available in many places now, even in discounters with varying tastes. Used for sauces, you will not find it different to common cream. On the package, you will find hints if it can be used for beating.
There are perfect alternatives to usual butter: vegetable butter or any other kind of it which is free of dairy components like yogurt, skim milk powder or sweet whey powder.
Tasteless yogurt is available in organic shops but it can also be bought with different flavours. Its taste is different to that from cow milk but this difference will be less noticeable if you use the yogurt for sweet meals or dressings.
Quark, sour cream, crème fraiche
Various products are available in shops, here, too, but you can also make them yourself: leave soy yogurt in a sieve to drain and season it according to your taste. For a tasty kind of sour cream you may use 500 g of tasteless soy yogurt, 100 g of cashew nuts soaked in hot water and mashed, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper. Then let it rest for some hours in the fridge.
In baking, quark can also be substituted with nut butter or silken tofu.
Chocolate can be called 'vegan' if it does not contain any milk nor milk powder nor concentrated butter. Many kinds of chocolate are vegan anyway especially those with a high content of cacao. But also whole milk chocolate, made of soy milk, is available.
Practically, all kinds of sweets and nibbles are available animal-free. Yet it is advisable to take a quick look at the table of contents or to do some internet research to be sure.
Pizza, Fast food
You will find many restaurants who offer vegan fast-food and Pizza, especially in the big cities. But e.g. Pizza is delicious, too, when it is made only with tomato sauce and vegetables without cheese.
So there is a limitless range of possible alternatives. It is up to you to try them out.