There are hundreds of vegan alternatives to animal products.
Going vegan isn’t about elimination. Veganism is not a starvation or deprivation diet.
Rather, it’s about finding vegan alternatives for the foods you love and incorporating new foods into your diet.
I now eat foods I had never heard of before going vegan. Things like dragon fruit, tahini, purple potatoes, and tempeh.
But I also still eat plenty of the same foods I grew up on, like chicken tenders, mac n’ cheese, and cereal—I’ve just learned to swap in the vegan alternatives.
Vegan swaps aren’t always specialty items either—you don’t have to drive an hour away to a natural food store. Most of these swaps can be done at your local grocery store (and sometimes even Target and Amazon).
By swapping out the animal products, you can still enjoy the foods you love without the cruelty, cholesterol, and so on. If the most common animal products are slowing your transition to going vegan, start swapping!
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1. Vegan Alternatives to Cheese
It seems like it’s more difficult for people to give up dairy products than actual meat products, which is probably why many people go vegetarian so easily but find veganism too hard.
If it weren’t the twenty-first century, I’d sort of understand where they’re coming from, BUT vegan cheese alternatives today are realistic, sharp, and flavorful.
One of the first recommendations you’ll get for cheese alternatives as a new vegan is nutritional yeast—which is great in place of parmesan and grated cheese—but you’ll be truly impressed by the products on the vegan cheese market these days.
Veganism has come a long way to have several vegan cheese on the market, and this isn’t even all of them:
Vegan Cheese Slices
- Chao by Field Roast
- Follow Your Heart
- Good Planet
Vegan Cheese Shreds
- Follow Your Heart
- So Delicious
Vegan Cheese Blocks
- Follow Your Heart
Vegan Cheese Grated
- Go Veggie Dairy-Free Grated Parmesan
- Parma Vegan Parmesan Superfood Cheese
- Umami Mia Vegan Parmesan
- Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan
Vegan Cream Cheese
- Mikoyo’s Creamery
- Kite Hill
Vegan Cheese Sauce
Vegan Gourmet Cheese
- Miyoko’s Creamery
- Kite Hill
- Treeline Treenut Cheese
Vegan Mac N’ Cheese
- Daiya Deluxe Mac
- Annie’s Organic Vegan Mac
- Upton’s Naturals
- Field Roast Mac N’ Chao
You can find the leading non-dairy cheese brands at Whole Foods, of course, but other grocery chains like Sprouts, Vons, Ralph’s, and Albertson’s carry them as well. Some stores like Trader Joe’s even carry their own line of vegan cheeses.
Homemade vegan cheeses are evolving as well. We know and love the classic potato-carrot cheese for vegan mac n’ cheese, nachos, or dipping sauce, but you can also make nut-based cheeses at home.
Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko’s Creamy has a cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, all about making your own vegan cheese at home.
2. Vegan Alternatives to Milk
While we’re on the topic of dairy, let’s talk the never-ending list of plant milks. Non-dairy milk is becoming so popular among consumers that the dairy industry is slowly declining. Once you learn the truth about dairy, you’ll never want to go back. Fortunately, you can take your pick from dozens of different types of non-dairy milk!
Choosing your vegan milk alternative is simple:
Step 1: Choose your main ingredient.
Step 2: Choose your sweetness level.
Step 3: Choose your flavor.
Plus, there are more non-dairy milk options than there are actual dairy options:
Top Vegan Milk Brands
- Silk Soy Milk
- Blue Diamond Almond Milk
- So Delicious Coconut Milk
- Califia Farms Almond Milk
- Pacific Foods Cashew Milk
- Milkadamia Macadamia Milk
- Elmhurst Nut Milk
Allergen Friendly Vegan Milk
- Ripple Pea Milk
- Good Karma Flax Milk
- Oatly Oat Milk
- Rice Dream Rice Milk
- Tempt Hemp Milk
You’ll find that you prefer some non-dairy milks over the other depending on the application. I love chocolate-flavored soy milk but prefer to use almond milk in mashed potatoes and oatmeal. Coconut milk comes in handy for Indian-style recipes like lentil dahl, and both coconut and cashew milk make for creamy yogurt.
3. Vegan Alternatives to Ice Cream
To round out the vegan dairy alternatives, let’s skip to my favorite course—dessert. I have a small addiction to sweet treats, especially after eating something savory. When the cravings kick in, I can substitute dairy ice cream for banana “nice cream” or I can indulge in the vegan ice creams. I wish I could say I go for the bananas most often, but I’ve tasted the best ice cream of my life since going vegan—and it’s all made with plant milk!
These vegan ice cream brands are about to change your life:
- So Delicious
- Coconut Bliss
- Almond Dream
- Rice Dream
Even mainstream ice cream brands have non-dairy options:
- Ben & Jerry’s
- Halo Top
- Haagen Dazs
If you have Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen Dazs locations near you, you can get vegan ice cream on the go!
Some stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods even carry their own brand of vegan ice cream.
Since discovering all the non-dairy ice cream alternatives, I eat ice cream more than ever! Having this many vegan options is both a blessing and a curse.
Pro tip: New vegan ice creams are coming out consistently! When checking to see if a store carries a new vegan product near me, I check Instacart.com for the availability and price! This isn’t 100% accurate, but it doesn’t hurt to check if the store locator tool doesn’t tell you if a new product is now carried at a store near you.
4. Vegan Alternatives to Honey
People are surprised to hear that vegans don’t eat honey, but when you think about it, it’s obvious. Honeybees work hard for their honey, and we don’t need it. Why take something that isn’t ours when we have so many alternatives?
Honey is an interesting topic for new and existing vegans because it’s one of the last things to go—you probably don’t even picture honey when you think of animal products. Alas, honey is not a victimless sweetener, so swap it out for the million other sweeteners out there.
Products designed to mimic honey are super innovative—like Bee Free Honee—but most honey alternatives are already in your cupboard:
- Maple syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Pure stevia
- Coconut nectar
- Brown sugar
- Coconut sugar
Honey does hide in some pre-packaged products like cereal, granola, and oats, so be sure to veganize these foods by making them at home or check the label carefully for an accidentally vegan version.
5. Vegan Alternatives to Eggs
Do people even use eggs in baking anymore? From what I’ve seen on Pinterest—vegan replacements for eggs in baking—eggs are not the go-to binding ingredient anymore.
Let’s let the chickens keep their precious eggs and bake with some plant foods instead:
- Apple sauce
- Mashed banana
- Soaked chia seeds
- Soaked flax seeds
- Peanut butter
- Mashed avocado
- Dairy-free yogurt
- Aquafaba (liquid in canned beans)
- Silken tofu
If you have a Whole Foods or Sprouts near you, or if you shop online, you can find some nifty powdered egg replacers:
- Follow Your Heart VeganEgg
- Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Egg Replacer
- The Neat Egg
- Ener G Egg Replacer
- The Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk
Replacing eggs in your breakfast may seem impossible, but you’d be surprised at the versatility of a good block of tofu. The infamous tofu scramble is a foolproof way to still enjoy scrambled “eggs” for breakfast and makes for a great topping on toast or in a breakfast sandwich.
6. Vegan Alternatives to Chicken
If you’re new to veganism or incorporating more plant-based meals in your diet, you might still think than lean chicken breast is the healthiest and ultimate source of protein. For many people, white meat is considered healthier than red meat.
I felt that way, too, but I now know that chicken breast has nearly identical levels of cholesterol and fat as all other meats.
All of America still thinks chicken is the healthiest food on the planet! Want to see for yourself? Search for the hashtag #mealprep on Instagram, and you’ll see that the Standard American Meal Prep consists of brown rice, broccoli, and chicken breast. Time to swap out that last one!
Vegan chicken substitutes are great for your health, but even better for the chickens. Fortunately, we have so many to choose from:
- Beyond Chicken-Free Strips
- Quorn Chicken Cutlets
Stores like Trader Joe’s, Ralph’s, and Target have their own lines of vegan chicken substitutes to try. My favorite is the Trader Joe’s brand—I like it even more than the holy grail of mock meats, Gardein!
If you want to make your own chicken substitute from tofu, tempeh, soy curls, textured vegetable protein (TVP), or vital wheat gluten, be sure to try the vegan chicken-flavored bouillons and seasonings out there:
- Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
- Edward & Sons Not Chick’n Bouillon Cubes
- Jada Spices Vegan Chicken Salt
- Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Flavored Broth
7. Vegan Alternatives to Beef
Vegan beef substitutes are ahead of the game. Seriously. Out of all the faux meats, vegan burgers are the most realistic, and they’ve come along way from garden burgers and black bean patties. In recent years, we’ve seen the 100% vegan Beyond Burger take it’s place next to real beef in the meat aisle. That’s progress!
While homemade veggie burgers still have their place in your life, sometimes you just want to toss a meaty veggie burger on the barbecue. OR you want to trick your non-vegan friends and family to show them how authentic vegan food can be.
Plant-based foods are so common nowadays that they usually have their own “plant-based” or “vegetarian” section in the freezer aisle:
- Beyond Burger
- Dr. Praeger’s
(Just remember to check for the Beyond Burger in the meat section!)
When you go vegan, you’re still eating many of the same foods as before—you’ve just veganized them! And this includes foods that call for ground beef, like tacos, chili, meatballs, etc. In these cases, vegan alternatives have you covered:
Vegan Ground Beef
- Lightlife Smart Ground Meatless Crumbles
- Lightlife Gimme Lean Meatless Veggie Beef
- Gardein Beefless Ground
- Yves Veggie Ground
- Beyond Meat Beef Crumbles
- Boca Veggie Ground Crumbles
- Neat Foods Original Mix
Be sure to check out the store brand of vegan beef as well. Stores like Ralph’s and Trader Joe’s have their own meatless crumbles that are super versatile.
Vegan Beef Jerky
If you want to make your own beef substitute from soy curls, textured vegetable protein (TVP), or vital wheat gluten, be sure to try the vegan beef-flavored bouillons and seasonings out there:
- Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base
- Edward & Sons Not Beef Cubes
- Orrington Farms Vegan Beef Flavored Bouillon
Pro tip: If Amazon Fresh serves your area, consider yourself in luck! Before the Beyond Burger was available near me, I ordered a dozen patties on Amazon Fresh. This service is no longer available in my area, but I wish it was for the variety of vegan options they offer. Prime Pantry still has some great vegan options, and this service is available to everyone.
8. Vegan Alternatives to Pork
Thank the vegan heavens for plant-based pork options so ‘BACON THO’ will never hold you back from going vegan! I didn’t realize how bacon-obsessed the human population is until I went vegan, but now I can’t un-see the horrible deaths that pigs endure for humans to eat that bacon. For me and many others, the vegan bacon is way better because it’s cruelty-free.
There’s tons of vegan pork products to choose from, but the one that’s the most popular in the vegan community right now is the Beyond Sausage. Some people say it’s more realistic than the Beyond Burger! Either way, it’s delicious and totally vegan. It’s currently available at some Whole Foods and Veggie Grill locations.
The vegan gods are looking out for us with these vegan pork alternatives:
- Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon Smoky Tempeh
- Lightlife Smart Bacon Style Strips
- Louisville Maple Bacon Jerky
- Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon
- Upton’s Naturals Bacon Style Seitan Strips
- Yves Meatless Veggie Canadian Bacon
- Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Tempeh
- Beyond Sausage
- Field Roast Vegetarian Grain Meat Sausages
- Tofurky Original Italian Sausage
- Lightlife Smart Sausages
- Lightlife Gimme Lean Meatless Veggie Sausage
- Lightlife Smart Dogs
- Gardein Breakfast Patties
- Upton Natural’s Sausage Seitan
- Upton Natural’s Chorizo Seitan
- El Burrito Organic Soyrizo
Vegan Deli Slices
- Field Roast
Vegan Ham and Pork Roasts
- Vegetarian Plus Vegan Ham Roll
- Tofurky Vegetarian Ham Style Roast
- Loving Hut Cheerful Vegan Ham Loaf
- Feed Your Head Vegan Ham
Plus, there’s several ways you can make vegan bacon at home with healthy ingredients—coconut, shitake mushrooms, tempeh, seitan, etc. And don’t forget that McCormick Bac’n Pieces (aka bacon bits) are accidentally vegan!
9. Vegan Alternatives to Fish
Have you ever heard a vegetarian say they only eat dairy, eggs, and fish? For some reason, people are more disconnected with the cruelty inflicted on fish than they are to other animals. That’s why we have the term pescatarian who describe vegetarians who still consume fish products.
But fish are animals. Not plants. So we hope you don’t eat them! Instead, eat the thousands of other foods available to you, including these vegan fish alternatives:
- Gardein Fish Fillets
- Vegan Toona
- Sophie’s Breaded Vegan Fish Fillets
- Loma Linda Vegan Tuna
- Loving Hut Vegan Fish Fillet
10. Vegan Alternatives to Gelatin
Gelatin is a strange one both in what’s it made of and how it’s not the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think of animal products.
I cringe when I see gelatin on an ingredients label, and here’s why you should too. Gelatin is a thickening agent made from the boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, bones, and connective tissues of dead cows and pigs.
Gelatin is the main ingredient in jelly foods and candies like Jell-O, gummy candies, marshmallows, fruit snacks, and plenty of other pre-packaged foods.
To replace gelatin when cooking or baking, be sure to check out these vegan gelatin alternatives:
With these vegan snacks, you won’t even miss the versions containing gelatin:
- Simply Delish Natural Jel Dessert
- Bakol Jel Dessert
- Dandie’s All-Natural Marshmallows
- Surf Sweet Organic Fruity Bears
- Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks
Gelatin also hides in gummy vitamins and soft gel supplements, so be sure to check the label. Fortunately, there are thousands of vegan vitamin and supplement products, such as vitamin B12, to choose from that are gelatin-free.
Are vegan alternatives healthy?
It’s important to note that while vegan alternatives to meat and cheese are delicious, they’re not always healthy. After all, Oreos are vegan…but definitely not healthy!
These products are meant to make it easy for new vegans. They’re not meant to be a staple in your diet.
Certain vegan alternatives, like almond milk and tofu, are a lot healthier than others.
For more information on how to stay healthy as a vegan, click here to read our guide on vegan nutrition.
Where to buy vegan alternatives?
I’m a huge proponent of online shopping since Amazon, VitaCost, and ThriveMarket are so vegan friendly.
Plus, there’s an all-vegan online retailer called Vegan Essentials where you have thousands of vegan products at your fingertips. It’s easy to go crazy over there with all the vegan goodies.
When you need to make a trip to the grocery store, just know that vegan products are everywhere. Your local grocery stores (even Walmart and Target) are guaranteed to have at least one veggie burger, plant milk, etc. Call ahead or check the brand’s website to see if what you’re looking for is carried near you. I love using InstaCart for this feature.
For specialty vegan items, check out your local Whole Foods, Sprouts, or health food store. Brands like Gardein, Boca, Field Roast, and Lightlife can be found in many large grocery chains, so even if you don’t find the exact vegan product you’re looking for, you can still try out what your local grocery store carries.
Just remember that you don’t NEED the vegan alternatives in your daily lives, but these faux animal products make our lives a lot easier when we’re first transitioning to a vegan diet or when the cravings hit.
We usually go vegan because we love animals, not because we don’t like the taste of animal products!
We can still be animal and food lovers once we start to veganize our lives.