For those of you focused on injecting more plant-based ingredients into your diet, here is my big list of vegan alternatives to meat and dairy. Many of my recommendations are sold at grocery stores internationally, but some are only available in my city of Vancouver. My other suggestions are recipes so you can make certain products at home.
When I cut dairy out of my life in the early 2000’s, it was rare to find dairy-free options at coffee shops and grocery stores. But nowadays, milk-based alternatives are abundant, and food companies have perfected their recipes. I can say with confidence that there’s no compromise to eating vegan alternatives to dairy products. Meat, too!
Without further ado, here are my favourite dairy-free alternatives to meat and dairy.
FAVOURITE VEGAN MILK
- Nut milks from smaller local companies like The Juice Box, The Juicery Co., Juice Truck and Glory Juice are by far the best tasting options.
- Nuez Milk (sold at Vancouver Farmers Markets and cafes — in latte form — around Vancouver).
- Almond or coconut milk from Earth’s Own (thinner than the above) is perfect for smoothies and in cooking or baking.
FAVOURITE VEGAN COFFEE CREAMERS
- Full-fat coconut milk (you might be surprised how well it works!)
- Creamy, raw almond milks made by smaller companies like The Juice Box, The Juicery Co., Juice Truck and Glory Juice (my fav!)
- So Nice For Coffee – the smaller brown carton (I realize soy may not be the best option, but it’s by far the lesser of two evils — and it tastes really great).
- So Delicious Coconut Creamer – the small red carton (they just came out with a new version that contains no carageenan!)
- Homemade almond milk (which is basically the same as option #2). Here’s how to make it.
FAVOURITE VEGAN CHEESES
- Nut cheese by Vancouver-based Chef Karen McAthy (who’s currently setting up her website — in the meantime you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Miyoko, Fauxmage and Vtopian (for sale online at vegansupply.ca, a Vancouver company who ships far and wide!)
- Nutritional yeast (this is not a cheese, but provides a wonderfully cheesy flavour to sauces, popcorn, pastas etc.)
- Daiya (available at most grocery stores — and though their ingredient list includes some items I can’t pronounce, I still think it’s better than dairy for its lower carbon footprint and the fact it doesn’t force cow’s into a lifelong cycle of artificial insemination and pregnancy).
FAVOURITE VEGAN SOUR CREAMS
- Easily make your own. I like this recipe.
- Tofutti “Better Than” Sour Cream (which does contain a bit of carageenan)
FAVOURITE VEGAN CREAM CHEESE
- Toffuti Dairy-Free Cream Cheese
FAVOURITE VEGAN PARMESAN CHEESE
- Easily make your own. Try this recipe.
- Go Veggie’s Parmesan Flavoured Grated Soy Topping (found at Whole Foods)
FAVOURITE VEGAN BUTTERS
- Coconut oil (works like a charm! …especially in baking.)
- Blend olive oil and coconut oil together to create a creamy butter-like spread the remains semi soft in the fridge, proportion: 1 to 1 (thanks Chef Karen for this tip!).
- Earth Balance All Natural Spread (perfect on toast, but separates when heating over a double broiler or in the microwave).
- Avocado! Nature’s butter, right?
FAVOURITE VEGAN MAYONNAISE
- Earth Island Vegenaise (sold at most nice grocery stores).
FAVOURITE VEGAN WHIPPED CREAM
- Homemade coconut whip is by far my fav. Make it using this recipe.
- Soyatoo Soy Whip (found at Whole Foods and many other stores — and again, soy is not the best, but one thing’s for sure…it’s a better option than dairy).
FAVOURITE VEGAN CHOCOLATE
- ZIMT Chocolates (sold at many Whole foods and other retailers).
- For The Love Of Food’s Glow Goodies (found here).
- Make your own by mixing together 1 part coconut oil, 1 part cocoa powder (plus maple syrup to sweeten) over a double broiler — cool, then pour into molds to make bars.
FAVOURITE VEGAN ICE CREAMS
- Nice Vice (available through spud.ca and opening soon at 1022 Mainland St in Yaletown!).
- Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss (available at most grocery stores — hooray).
- Earnest Ice Cream (they usually have two vegan flavours in the mix at both their locations).
- Rain or Shine (you’ll find one to three vegan options at each of their locations at all times).
- Make your own! My chocolate chip mint cheesecake recipe is a favourite. Avocado Ice Cream is worth a try, too.
FAVOURITE VEGAN CHEESECAKE
- No-bake Chocolate Cheesecakes by Minimalist Baker (which are actually so delicious and easy to make, you’ll wonder why you ever laboured over old-fashioned versions!)
- Minimalist Baker’s Coconut Cheesecake recipe is another winner (if you are craving something non-chocolate).
FAVOURITE VEGAN BAKING
- Two Daughters Bakeshop in N Van (muffins, donuts, cookies, pizza buns etc.)
- To Die For Banana Bread — coming soon!
HOW TO MAKE A VEGAN EGG
- For one egg: combine 1 tbsp. ground chia or flax with 3 tbsp. lukewarm water and stir — let sit for about 5 minutes.
FAVOURITE VEGAN MEAT
- Veggies! I’m not against fake meat, but I’m just not a regular consumer. ‘Meatier’ plants like yams, potatoes, avocado, mushrooms, eggplant satisfy any void I’m feeling.
- MeeT on Main serves some pretty wicked seitan veggie burgers.
- Bestie on E Pender St (in Vancouver) makes a nice veggie sausage.
- Heirloom’s Haystack Burger is off the chain (and stacked high with onion rings and beet bacon).
- Have a reco for me? Please share! erin at itstodiefor dot ca
FAVOURITE VEGAN GRAVY
- Mushroom Gravy from Whole Foods (I’m not sure if it’s on sale outside of the holidays, but it should be! Let’s all request it?)
- Make your own. I love Minimalist Baker’s recipe (but then again, I love all her recipes!)
I’m probably forgetting some of my favourites, so stay tuned — I will be updating this list constantly. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your favourite vegan products — please feel free to email me at erin at tolivefor dot ca.