10 Easy Swaps for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
Here I have suggested alternatives to ten food items that are typically not plant-based. Making these swaps can give any person an easier transition to a plant based diet, or simply tools and ideas to improve their current diet. This article is not sponsored, where I mentioned branded items, these are swaps that I have tried and tested myself, many of which I use as treats or in my every day diet.
1) Mince – Brown Lentils
Brown lentils are great for use in meals such as spaghetti bolognese or lasagne. They are extremely filling and give a similar appearance of mince. When paired with the right spices, sauces or flavours, they can make a great meat substitute. They have [insert nutrition]. You can find a recipe from my blog here: https://www.lottiemarie.com/home/brown-lentil-bolognese-low-fat-high-protein-high-fibre
2) Milk – Oat Milk
I recommend Oatly as a brand. It is super creamy, they have ordinary, a barista version which is great in teas and coffee and even milk chocolate flavours! If you are interested in making your own, which is much cheaper, you can check out this recipe on my blog: https://www.lottiemarie.com/home/2in1-oat-mylk-and-oaty-brownies-recipe
3) Chocolate – VEGO Bars
VEGO bars are delicious, creamy and nutty chocolate bars! As far as price goes, they are more expensive than your average supermarket brand, but far superior in taste. They are pretty chunky so I don’t recommend eating all at once! They can be bought in your local vegan store or alternative store. Or they can be bought online at: https://www.thevegankindsupermarket.com/products/vego-mini-whole-hazelnut-chocolate-bar
4) Burgers – Sainsbury’s Love your Veg – Mushroom and Jackfruit Burgers
These burgers are amazing in taste and a healthier alternative to your average beef burger. They don’t fall apart on the BBQ, are moist and are packed full of flavour that you don’t need to cover them in sauce. They are certainly worth a try. Link here: https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/sainsburys-love-your-veg%21-the-smoky-jack-quarter-pounder-227g
5) Pulled Pork or Chicken Pieces – Jackfruit
Jackfruit is natures gift to every person following a plant-based diet. As I have explained in a previous recipe, jackfruit is a very large fruit from southern India and is commonly used in Asian cuisine. The uniqueness about jackfruit is its 'meaty' texture, similar to pulled chicken or pulled pork and its ability to mimic the favours it is cooked in. This makes it a great natural substitute for meat dishes. In addition, jackfruit is a good source of nutrients and dietary fibre with at least half of the calories of the same amount of chicken or pork. Jackfruit is high in protein in comparison to other fruits, but still much lower if being used as a meat substitute, so it is best cooked alongside other beans, high protein grains or seeds to provide a high protein meal. Jackfruit can be bought tinned in almost any large supermarket, Asian store or health food shop. A recipe using jackfruit with a cooking tutorial can be found on my blog: https://www.lottiemarie.com/home/jackfruit-and-mushroom-fajitas
6) Sausages – Aldi – Masala and Cauliflower Sausages
These sausages are both inexpensive and full of favour. They are made using a great use of ingredients including cauliflower, red onion, brown rice and yellow split peas which are a great natural source of plant-based protein. In addition, they have plenty of moisture which many vegetarian/vegan sausages often lack. They are Indian spiced and although cannot claim to taste like a meat sausage, they taste amazing in their own right, especially for the price. Here is a link on the Aldi website but they are sold in most Aldi stores. https://www.aldi.co.uk/masala-%26-cauliflower-vegan-sausages/p/018102285862700
7) Cheese – Three options:
I have cheated here by giving you three different options for cheese. My reasons for this are that often, manufactured cheese alternatives are often much more expensive that their originals, many people do not get on well with them as the taste and texture of chees is difficult to replicate and lastly there are times where the meal calls for the cheese taste, and other times where the meal needs the fat that cheese would normally provide. In these instances, paying out for an expensive substitute is unnecessary.
Sheeze Grated Mozzarella
· If I were to pick a manufactured cheese alternative that doesn’t break the bank but also tastes (in my opinion!) great, then it would be the Sheeze Grated Mozzarella. This cheese goes great with pasta, pizza, in sandwiches and on salads. It has the most ‘cheese’ taste without being overpowering and tasting like cheesy feet. Sheeze can be bought in most supermarkets that provide a ‘free from’ section or in your local health food store.
· Nutritional Yeast is inactive yeast in the form of flakes which can be sprinkled on pizza, pasta soups, stews, casseroles and salads and be made into a cheesy sauce to provide a cheesy, nutty taste. Nutritional yeast is often relatively inexpensive considering the small amount used on each meal, is dry so can be stored in the cupboard for a long time, and is often fortified with vitamin B12. An important vitamin often found lacking in a plant-based diet. The texture is not always to everyone’s taste but if you get on with it then it is a worthy product in every plant-based household cupboard.
· For many people who haven’t tried it, avocado can seem hardly worth the hype. A green coloured mush spread on toast or sliced into salads. Maybe you have tried it but it wasn’t ripe therefore hard or flavourless, or over ripe where it quickly turns brown and mucky. For everyone, I urge you to try it and then try it again. Avocado is a great healthy fat. Fats are essential for the human body to function so it is extremely important to get healthy fats such as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats into the diet. Alongside nuts and seeds, avocado can make a great healthier alternative for cheese in the diet as it contains 79% unsaturated fats compared to cheddar cheese which has only 30% unsaturated fats. As avocado only has around 15g of fat per 100g compared to the 33g per 100g in cheddar, you can actually eat more avocado than cheese to gain the same amount overall. Avocado can be added to salads, toast, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, fajitas and can even be used to make ice cream!
8) Butter/Margarine – Flora Freedom or Pure Olive Spread
This swap can be argued as one of the simplest, especially if you already use a margarine as opposed to butter. Alternatives like Flora Freedom or Pure Olive Spread can taste similar if not identical to your every-day margarine. They are often no different in price and heathier than the alternatives. They can be bought in most supermarkets, so give it a try!
9) Yoghurt – Alpro Plain, Coconut or Vanilla
The brand Alpro do wonders for the plant-based and lactose intolerant communities. They have a full range of dairy alternatives which I encourage you to try out. In terms of yoghurt, I particularly like the Alpro plain or coconut, especially when pairing it with fruit or granola. The vanilla is great too and some people prefer the taste when switching from a dairy yoghurt as it has more flavour. However, the sugar content in aplro plain or coconut is half of that of the vanilla. Alpro also do smaller lunchbox sized yoghurts in many flavours, however these are more packaging and also higher in sugar. When comparing Alpro to another branded natural yoghurt. Alpro plain had half the amount of sugar, was naturally lower in fat and had lower calorie value per 100g. In addition, Alpro is fortified with vitamins D and B12 and calcium.
10) Ice Cream – Aplro Vanilla Ice cream or Aldi Coconut Lollies
Once again, I am cheating here by giving you two options.
Alpro Ice Cream
· Alpro ice cream is almost identical to any other vanilla ice cream.I personally think it is delicious and have to prevent myself from eating the whole tub! It is a little more pricey than ordinary ice cream but cheaper than alternative vegan brands. https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/alpro-dairy-free-vanilla-ice-cream-500ml
Aldi Coconut Lollies
· The coconut lollies from Aldi are like a soft ice cream lolly, very coconutty in taste so I would not recommend if you don’t like coconut. They are a great price, no different to that of another similar dairy version. Great to grab and go on a hot day.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article! Please tag me if you try out any of the suggested swaps. Comment below or send me a message if you have any great swap suggestions that you have already made.