What the best plant-based replacements for butter, oil, meat and dairy products in meals and recipes? This free plant-based food substitutes printable will guide you through how to replace products you are currently using with healthier alternatives.
Download this handy vegetarian reference guide and keep it in your kitchen for the next time you are baking or preparing a recipe.
What is Whole Food, Plant-Based Eating?
A whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet is meeting your nutritional needs by eating natural plant foods.
- Whole Food – This means that a food is minimally processed, if at all. Most whole foods do not have a food label (apples, zucchini) or the label has just a few simple ingredients.
- Plant-Based – Foods that grow in nature.
These foods do not include animal products like meat, eggs, or cheese and they do not include oil (including olive oil and coconut oil).
This diet is similar to vegan and vegetarian but not exactly the same because it eliminates processed vegetarian foods like Impossible Burgers, plant-based butters and vegan treats like pizza and cookies except for rare special occasions.
How to Replace Eggs, Meat, Oil or Dairy Products with Plant Foods
When you choose to eat a plant-based diet (either all the time or once in awhile for specific meals) you might wonder how to go about replacing the typical products you use like meat, oil, or cheese. What alternatives for vegans and vegetarians are available?
Here are some helpful tips when making substitutions:
- Vegetable broth is a great oil replacement for sautéing foods. You’ll quickly find you don’t even miss the oil. Any vegetable broth works, but I’ve found that higher-quality brands like Imagine vegetable broth and Pacific vegetable broth are lower in sodium and taste much better.
- To make an egg alternative, use this Flax Egg Recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon chia or ground flax seeds with 2 tablespoons of water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before using. This replaces 1 egg in baked goods.
- Use equal amounts applesauce, pumpkin, or mashed banana for oil or melted butter in baked goods. While the end result will not be as tender, it will still be very good.
- Cheese can be left out of many recipes or use a vegan cheese sauce. Try to avoid store-bought vegan shredded or block cheeses which are very high in oil and fat.
- Use almond, oat, or hemp milk instead of dairy milk.
- Substitutes for coconut oil: Although coconut oil is all the rage these days, it should be kept to use once in awhile due to the high fat content. Use vegetable broth for sautéing and applesauce, banana, or pumpkin in baked goods instead of coconut oil.
- These are helpful ideas for WW members on the Weight Watchers Program 2023 or MyWW Green, Blue, and Purple because these vegan alternatives almost always lower the points in recipes because of the reduced calories and fat. (I’m maintaining a 120 pound weight loss with WW and use these ideas all the time.)
Best Plant-Based Replacements for Beginners
If you are new to a plant-based lifestyle, this handy chart will tell you how to replace your current favorites with healthier options that taste just as good, if not better, than what you are currently using.
|Food||Plant-Based (Vegan) Replacement|
|White Pasta||Spaghetti Squash, Bulgar, Whole Grains, Spiralized Carrot, Spiralized Zucchini, Whole Wheat Pasta, Bean Pasta|
|Dairy Milk||Soy Milk, Oat Milk, Rice Milk, Almond Milk|
|Plain Soy Yogurt, Plain Almond Yogurt (look for low in fat and sugar)|
|Cheese||Nutritional Yeast, Tofu, Cauliflower & Potato-based Dips & Sauces|
|Applesauce, Mashed Banana, Crumbled or Silken tofu|
|Applesauce, Tofu, Pumpkin Puree,|
|All Meats||Beans, Lentils, Tempeh, Tofu, Mushrooms, Sliced Eggplant|
|Oil (for baking)||Applesauce, Mashed Banana, Pumpkin Puree|
|Vegetable Broth, Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Water|
|Whole Fruit, Mashed Banana, Applesauce, Dry Fruit, Dates, Stevia, Cinnamon|
|Infused Water, Sparkling Water, Tea|
|Wheat Berries, Brown Rice, Baked Potatoes, Sliced Veggies, Sweet Potato Toast, Whole Grain Bread without Oil, Whole Grain Tortillas without Oil|
|Ice Cream||Fruit Sorbets, Banana Ice Cream, Frozen Grapes, Frozen Fruit Slices|
Plant-Based Replacements Chart Free PDF Download
Print this vegetarian cooking guide and keep it handy in your kitchen.
Enjoy this plant-based vegetarian substitution guide. Which healthier food swaps work best for you? Share your ideas in the comments.
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