Before I went vegan, I was vegetarian for years. I remember relying heavily on cheese and eggs for flavor and richness in a lot of my meals. A slice of cheese was an absolute requirement for a veggie sandwich. Eggs became my go-to breakfast.
When I decided to nix the dairy and eggs, I had to get a little creative. I’ve always loved to cook and creating my own recipes. So I took this new dietary change in stride – I considered it a creative challenge which I gladly accepted.
If I had a desire for cheese or eggs or bacon… I started to ask myself “what am I actually craving?” Because I knew for certain it wasn’t the flesh of a dead animal I was longing for… There was something else that was attracting me to those items.
I started to realize that my cravings were really always for certain textures and flavors.
- Cheese is salty, creamy and sometimes a little tangy or funky.
- Bacon is smoky, fatty, salty, chewy with crispy and slightly burnt edges
- ice cream is smooth, cold and sweet
A lot of times the most important aspects of delicious flavorful foods are fat and salt.
In order to satisfy our cravings for familiar foods on a vegan diet, it’s important to break down what we’re actually wanting into simpler descriptive terms such as: Salty. Crunchy. Creamy. Chewy. Smokey.
Once we do that, we can figure out the appropriate ingredients required to create a plant-based version of the food that will be just as delicious and satisfying – for the same reasons.
A lot of vegan cheeses, like my cashew nacho cheese, use nuts like cashews to provide a rich, creamy texture and flavor. Combined with salt, nutritional yeast and a little lemon juice, we get a finished product that provides all of the same textures and flavors that draws us to cheese. Check out some of my favorite vegan dairy products here.
My tempeh bacon recipe uses a marinade of liquid smoke(miracle product!) with maple syrup and soy sauce to replicate the exact flavors that make bacon taste so great. Baking it in the oven gives it a crunchy texture with a slight char on the edges and makes it perfect for BLT sandwiches or paired with tofu scramble for breakfast.
These are just a couple of ideas for how to replace animal products in a vegan diet. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
And next time you find yourself craving something, ask yourself, “what am I actually craving?” Then try and find a plant-based food that will satisfy that craving. (Click here to tweet this!)