While vegetarians sometimes eat eggs, milk and cheese, and flexitarians eat fish and poultry, vegans omit them, along with gelatin, casein, rennet and whey, honey and animal-based colorants such as cochineal, substituting plant-based alternatives. This exclusion of animal-based foods reduces exposure to hormones, antibiotics and specific allergens such as lactose or shellfish to nearly zero.
Plant-based alternatives exist for most animal-based substances. Most perform equally well in cake recipes, once you know what to substitute and how much to use. Replace milk with almond, coconut or rice milk. Use almond milk in rum, wine or liqueur-soaked cake recipes such as fruitcakes, advises Phoenix, Arizona sous chef Aimee Lam-Maucissa, who offers vegan alternatives in all her recipes. Lam-Maucissa advises reducing sugars by 1/4 cup when using almond milk, due to its sweetness, and adding 1/4 cup sugar when using rice milk. Use coconut milk in white, yellow, coconut or pineapple cakes.
Replace eggs with applesauce or commercial egg replacer made from tapioca or potato starch when making white cakes. Add chopped or pureed papaya or kiwi fruit without the peel, mashed custard-apple, banana and chopped, minced or pureed mango, peach, nectarine or pear to replace eggs in yellow cakes. Puree 1 cup black beans, 1/2 cup white northern beans and 1 cup drained sauerkraut and mix it into chocolate cake recipes to replace eggs.
Lam-Maucissa advises replacing any shortening, margarine or butter with a soy-free, lactose-free, gluten-free blend of palm, canola, safflower and olive oil whipped with sunflower — not soy — lecithin and powdered pulse or pea protein. Whip the ingredients in a blender until it thickens into a smooth, butter-like spread. Pour it into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until needed.
Substitute equal amounts of maple, agave or guava syrup for honey, or use jelly made from fruit pectin, sugar and fresh apple juice. Stir 1 1/5 packets of pectin into 6 cups apple juice and bring it to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add 6 cups sugar and boil on high for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Test a spoonful of jelly mix by allowing it to cool and boil the jelly another minute if it is too runny, advises PickYourOwn.org owner, Blake Slemmer.
Aimee Lam-Maucissa; sous chef; Phoenix, AZ
Pick Your Own; How to Make Homemade Apple Jelly; Blake Slemmer; 2004
Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
Chopped, stir-fried tofu, celery and onions join crushed Italian tomatoes, honey and apple butter in a tasty alternative to ground beef. Vegetarian Sloppy Joes are a delicious low-cholesterol, gluten-free dish for your fall picnic or potluck.
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs diced celery
1 tsp. oregano
3 cloves fresh minced garlic
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 large (29 oz.) can crushed Italian tomatoes
4 tbsp. honey
1/4 cup apple butter
1/2 tsp. ground clove
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
Drain and chop all four blocks of tofu without mashing it into paste. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in your wok until it sizzles. Sweat the onion and celery in the hot oil until they are transparent. Add the basil, oregano, minced garlic and chili powder. Stir briskly to distribute the spices evenly.
Add the chopped tofu 1/2 cup at a time and stir-fry until the edges begin to brown. Stir in the crushed pineapple, crushed Italian tomatoes, ground clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey and apple butter. Simmer together for 20 minutes, covered. Remove cover and continue to simmer until the mixture reduces by one third.
Cut each bell pepper into four pieces from stem to tip to make “boats.” Remove the seeds and pith with a paring knife. Top each bell pepper quarter with 1/2 cup of the tofu Sloppy Joe mixture. Garnish each boat with fresh, chopped cilantro. Serves 8 to 10. Originally published at September 29, 2010, and moved from Triond April 5, 2015