11 swaps to make your vegan diet much less samey
Swap: Pulled pork for jack fruit
Why: It may not sound like a feasible alternative but when prepared properly, jackfruit (an extremely large fruit grown in Africa and Brazil) resembles the appearance, texture and taste of pulled pork — and, bonus: it’s much lower in saturated fat!
Swap: Bacon for smoked tofu
Why: Lots of non-meat-eaters break when they’ve been drinking or on a hangover and bacon is often the culprit. For that salty fix, try smoked tofu fried until crispy. It’s a great source of high quality protein, as well as being much lower in saturated fat.
Swap: Butter for olive oil or avocado
Why: Olive oil and avocado can be used in replace of butter in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes — as a rule, avo for spreading and oil for cooking. They are rich in monounsaturated fats which help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, while butter is rich in saturated fat and is shown to increase cholesterol levels.
Swap: Milk chocolate for dark chocolate
Why: Luckily you don’t need to totally give up chocolate, but you do need to opt for dark chocolate (and just double check the ingredients for any milk-based products or butterfat). Research shows it contains flavonoids which are antioxidants that protect our bodies from free radical damage.
Swap: Eggs for flaxseed or tofu
Why: How do you like your eggs in the morning? Scrambled and made out of tofu, which is a great source of high quality protein. Or use ground flaxseed and water (a.k.a flax egg) to replace egg in baked goods for a good source of omega-3 fats.
Swap: Beef burgers for bean burgers
Why: Meat isn’t the only thing that can be enjoyed in a bun with a side of fries and most burger joints will now offer vegetarian and vegan burgers. These options are much lower in fat and still a good source of protein. Beans are not a ‘complete’ protein source but if you combine beans with grains, you create a high quality ‘complete’ protein.
Swap: Sweets for frozen fruit
Why: Though you can now buy vegan sweets, which don’t contain gelatine, why not experiment and make your own sweet treats out of some of your favourite fruits? Grapes, berries, mango and bananas taste great frozen and even better dipped in dark chocolate. Freezing the fruit rather than letting it sit in your fruit bowl also helps to preserves the nutritional content. If you’re looking for an on-the-go snack, try a nut and seed mix that’s packed with protein and flavour.
Swap: Bone broth for miso soup
Why: Though the health food industry is on a bone broth hype, it’s not so tempting if you don’t eat meat. Instead opt for a fermented miso paste soup that is a good source of protein, copper, manganese, zinc and vitamin K, plus it contains probiotics, live bacteria that improve gut healthy by enhancing digestion and the immune system.
Swap: dairy milk for almond or soya milk
Why: we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to buying milk alternatives. However, removing dairy milk from your diet reduces your intake of calcium and this has shown to be a concern in young females. Make sure you check the ingredients labels as some milk alternatives are fortified with calcium and other micronutrients such as calcium, B vitamins and vitamin D.
Swap: Dairy cheese for nutritional yeast
Why: We know, it sounds gross but nutritional yeast, made from inactive yeast, tastes similar to Parmesan and can be used to replace cheese in sauces, salads and soups. Alternatively you could use crumbled tofu instead of cottage or ricotta cheese.
Swap: Oily fish for flaxseed or walnuts
Why: Flaxseed and walnuts are rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon. Omega-3 is important for brain function and reducing inflammation in the body, and it can be tricky to get if when eating a plant-based diet, so it’s important that you factor in replacements.
Gemma Shorter is in-house nutritionist at healthy snack brand The Food Doctor.