Animal Product Substitutions

My love of animals started early – a picture of 3-year-old me with a newborn calf.

This list of animal product substitutions is a work in progress but has been the basis for a lot of the substitutions I’ve made to animal-based ingredients in my family recipes.

Animal-Based IngredientVegan Alternative
ButtermilkSour Soy Milk: add one to two tablespoons lemon juice to a plant-based milk alternative, preferably soy, to make 1 cup total.
MilkSoy Milk: best substitution for not having an overpowering flavor Oat Milk: I’ve heard rave reviews about oat milk but I haven’t loved it as a substitute. However, it would be my second choice if there is a soy allergy. Almond and Other Nut Milks: lower calorie alternative but lower fat and may not hold up as well in baking. Also remember it is nut-based and would not be appropriate for anyone with a nut allergy. Coconut Milk: great in baking where a coconut flavor is desired. Full fat coconut milk is great is puddings.
ButterEarth balance or other equivalent vegan alternative butters (Melt, Becel, and other brands are emerging with fairly competitive and reliable products) – some plant based butter substitutes have a higher water content than others so amount may need to be adjusted depending on the fat needed in the recipe.
LardVegetable shortening (they are both 100% fat)
ButtermilkFor one cup buttermilk substitute with 1 cup of soy milk less 2 tbsp + 2tbsp apple cider vinegar. Mix and let sit for 5-10 minutes before using.
Heavy creamCoconut cream (put can of full fat can of coconut milk in the fridge upside down for a few hours, then scoop out the solids (the coconut cream). Use the same amount of coconut cream as the recipe calls for heavy cream.
Evaporated milkWater that remains in a can of coconut milk after the cream is removed

Egg Substitutions

Eggs get their own sub-section because they play so many different roles in cooking (leavening, thickening, binding). I’ve adapted this from My Darling Vegan. At the time of writing our family was/are eating eggs (but typically only those sourced from small family farms where the hens live fairly natural lives).

Egg substituteWorks well in…
Chickpea flour Mix 3 tbsp with 3 tbsp water until thick and creamy to replace each eggWorks well as a binder and leavener so use it in: Scones, cookies, biscotti, flourless cake.
Because of its high protein content, it works well for coagulation when few eggs are required so use it in: French Toast or Bread Pudding.
Also works well to replace eggs in egg based dishes such as: Omelettes, quiches.
Applesauce Add 3 tbsp for each egg plus 1/8th tsp baking sodaWorks well as a binder and thickener in moist, dense baked goods so use it in: Muffins, doughnuts, quick bread.
Non-dairy yogurt & silken tofu Add ¼ cup for each egg plus 1/8th tsp baking sodaWorks well as a tasteless binder and thickener, also great in dense baked goods like: Muffins, quick bread.
Flax seeds Blend 1 tbsp ground flax seed with 3 tbsp of water until thick and creamy for each eggWorks well as a binder so use it in: Muffins, bread, cookies.
Coconut milk Substitute based on weightWorks decently well to replace whipped egg yolks so use it in: Ice cream, whipped cream.
Cashews Substitute based on weightSoaked raw cashews are a dream in so many recipes – use it to replace cream, for example in sauces, soups, pasta sauces.
They also work well to replace whipped egg yolks so use in: Pot de crème.
Agar PowderUse where eggs would otherwise needed to “set” an egg-based dessert like a custard. Also works well in” Pastry cream, Bavarian cream.
Aquafaba (liquid from canned beans, usually chickpeas)Can be used in place of heavy whipping cream to make whipped cream.
Use in place of whipped egg whites – works well in: Mousses, meringues.
Tofu (usually regular firm tofu) ¼ cup of tofu = approx. 1 eggWorks well to replace entirely in an egg-based dish, so use it in: Scrambles, quiches, egg salads.
White beans & chickpeasWhipped beans are high in protein and can create similar texture to eggs when baked so use it in: Frittata, quiche or even a scramble.

Oh No! I’m Out of…

I’m still working on this, but here is the start of a list of ingredients commonly used in plant-based cooking and baking that you might run out of but may have an otherwise adequate substitute on hand.

Vegetable shorteningUse Earth Balance but adjust for fat level because Earth Balance has less fat. I tend to add ¼ cup for every cup called for in the recipe – so if it calls for 1 cup of vegetable shortening, I use  1 ¼ cups of Earth Balance.
Earth balanceDepending on what the Earth Balance is doing in the recipe, you can often substitute 1:1 of canola, vegetable, olive or even coconut oil.
Vegan sour creamVegan yogurt
Vegan YogurtSour supreme, vegan buttermilk (soy milk + apple cider vinegar)
CashewsWell-blended tofu will take on any flavour and can be used instead of cashews in puddings, pudding cakes and cream pies.