Leaning Into Veganism With Simple Substitutes

As some of you may already know, I am the only vegan amongst my friends and family. I am often asked what I use on my bread instead of butter or how I could possibly survive without ice cream. A few days ago, one of my close friends unknowingly tried “Vegenaise,” a vegan mayonnaise substitute, when she sampled some tuna salad at a local market. She was surprised that she liked it so much. I suggested that maybe she should keep some in her home in case she wanted to make tuna salad or use it as a sandwich spread. I also suggested that she make substitutions for some other basic items in her fridge, even though she has no intentions of ever following a vegan diet. Our conversation got me thinking about some great vegan substitutes which would be simple for anyone to use, whether vegan or not. Why not make some simple switches in your refrigerator which are so much healthier than what is currently being used?

On the other hand, if you are interested in becoming a vegan, then why not “lean into it,” in the words of the fabulous Kathy Freston. You don’t have to dive in, all or nothing; rather, try transitioning with some simple substitutes. Since I became vegan, my personal goal has been to eat only whole foods. I am not one for vegan processed foods or meat substitutes; but sometimes they are necessary, delicious and easy to prepare and I am not perfect. There are quite a few of these items which I have been using regularly and always keep in my fridge. Here are some of my suggestions which are good for transitioning towards veganism, occasional consumption if you are already a vegan or, simply, making some changes for the better as a non-vegan…

1. “Vegenaise” by the brand “Follow Your Heart” is an excellent substitute for mayonnaise. I actually think it tastes much better than traditional  mayonnaise and it is a much healthier option…

2. “Earth Balance” Organic Buttery Spread tastes just as good, if not better, than butter made from cow’s milk and is made from a blend of  healthy expeller-pressed oils. Why not use “Earth Balance” instead of traditional butter?

3. Tofutti’s “Better Than Cream Cheese” is dairy-free, cholesterol-free and non-hydrogenated. In all honesty, it does not taste better than real cream cheese but it does taste very good, is a much healthier alternative and is just fine on my Sunday morning bagel. This, obviously, is not a great photo.

4. Actually, instead of butter or cream cheese, why not spread avocados on your bread or Sunday morning bagel? It is healthy and delicious. Avocados could become the new butter!

5. Tofutti’s “Better Than Sour Cream” is truly better than sour cream. It is great on a baked potato or in a soy chorizo taco. The best part is that you won’t have a stomach ache after eating it!

6. Why have cow’s milk yogurt when you could have a healthier, more delicious yogurt from “Whole Soy & Co?” My favorite flavor is cherry which is not shown in the photo below because I already ate the cherry ones with some added ground flaxseed. Yum!

7. Daiya cheese is my “hands-down” favorite cheese alternative. All of the flavors are great, but I usually buy the cheddar style shreds and the Jalapeno-Garlic Havarti which is delicious on Edward & Sons’ Black Sesame Seed Rice Crackers. Daiya melts and stretches too. Go crazy, give it a try!

8. As you may know, I absolutely love the Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausages. It is so easy to make simple and delicious meals with them, including stir-fries. The Field Roast Sausages also come in other flavors, including Italian and Mexican Chipotle, but the Smoked Apple Sage is my favorite! I hereby dub the Field Roast Products as my #1 favorite meat substitutes.

9. Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo is my #2 favorite meat substitute. I absolutely love it in my vegan tacos.

10. There are so many non-dairy milks to choose from including soy, rice, almond, hazelnut or hemp milk. Why not find one that you love and stick to it? These products are much healthier than yucky cow’s milk? I am partial to Whole Foods’ 365 brand vanilla almond milk and the “Rice Dream” non-dairy milks.

11. There is no excuse for eating cow’s milk ice cream when there are so many delicious non-dairy frozen desserts to choose from. I love the “So Delicious” brand Coconut Milk Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert in the Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl flavor, but everyone in the world is going gaga over “Purely Decadent’s” Turtle Trails non-dairy ice cream. There are so many other options to choose from, such as the mini dairy-free ice cream sandwiches shown below. You just have to be open-minded and find ones that you love. Again, you will not be suffering from a post-pigout stomach ache after eating these wonderful non-dairy frozen dessert alternatives.

12. It is time to enter the 21st century, so please give up that Sweet ‘n Low, Equal and Splenda. They are so old school! Try Stevia Extract which is a natural herbal dietary supplement. Once again, not a great photo.

So there you have it…my favorite simple substitutes for non-vegans, those who wish to “lean into” veganism or established vegans looking to “be bad.” Why not try them? You might like them?



  1. This is a terrific piece that I’m sure will be a great help to everybody going vegan. I posted a link to it on my Facebook page for my book Living Cruelty Free
    Thanks for writing it, Debby:)

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