Finding substitutes for animal products is perhaps the trickiest part of vegan cooking, both for a new conscious-eater, and for someone who’s been doing this a while. But it can also be a lot of fun to upend some long-held traditions on cooking and baking by using cruelty-free products and getting results that are just as good and usually healthier than their animal-infested versions.

Here is a list of the substitutes that always work.

(To replace more than one, just multiply)
1 tbsp of ground flax meal + 3 tbsp of water
used  most often for baked bread-cakes, like Banana Nut Bread and Zucchini Bread, and in cookies and muffins.

1/4 cup tofu
(I usually blend my tofu so it is smooth before using it. If you add it as is to a recipe, you might never be able to break the lumps. Tofu works especially well in quiches and pancakes and pastas. It is also a great replacement in scrambled eggs).

1/2 banana
(don’t use banana unless you want the recipe to be banana-flavored, as in Banana Cake.)

1/4 cup applesauce
(Applesauce also makes a baked good really moist, so it allows you to cut down on fat in the recipe. It works great in  Carrot Cake.)

Commercial powder substitutes like EnerG
(I don’t use these a lot, but they are handy at times, especially in lighter cookies, like Amaretti. Read package instructions for measures.)



(With all the alternatives available, there is really no excuse to use dairy milk. Soymilk with cereal and in cakes and muffins etc, or using almond milk instead of milk in many Indian sweets)

1 cup Soymilk

1 cup Rice Milk

1 cup Almond Milk

1 cup Hemp Milk

1 cup Hazelnut Milk


1 CUP YOGURT(Yogurt substitutes work great in raitas and other Indian foods like biryanis which call for yogurt Commercial soy yogurts are also available in all parts of the world.)

1 cup silken tofu blended with 2 tbsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp salt (use more or less lemon juice if you don’t want your yogurt to be too acidic.) 
Look in the regular refrigerator aisle alongside regular yogurt.


(Buttermilk substitutes can be used in any recipe that calls for it, including cupcakes, pancakes, and southern-style biscuits)

1 cup soymilk or almond milk + 1 tsp vinegar (use any you have on hand, from plain vinegar to balsamic to apple cider. Mix and set aside for a couple of minutes to curdle.)


(Butter substitutes, like milk and yogurt substitutes, replace all the cholesterol with healthy fats that are better for you. Of course, vegan fats also contain the same number of calories as animal fats, so don’t overdo the use of fats of any kind.)

1 tbsp vegan margarine or “butter”

1 tbsp flavorless oil

1 tbsp vegetable shortening (vanaspati in India)



1 tbsp nutritional yeast
(This is most commonly used in pestos, pastas etc. as a cheese substitute and it adds a wonderfully cheesy flavor. It has all the yumminess of cheese minus the bad fats, and, cherry on the icing, it is packed with healthy B vitamins.)
1 tsp miso
( this Japanese seasoning can be used all the time instead of salt and in place of cheese in pestos and soups. You can also add it to quiches, sauces, etc. Always add miso at the end of cooking, since heating miso can kill the wonderful enzymes it has that regulate your digestion).



There are commercial brands of vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream (like Tofutti) that taste and acts like the original thing.


1 TBSP HONEY: 1 tbsp maple syrup (Maple Syrup can be a great flavor-enhancer in some treats like oatmeal cookies and even nut breads.)

1 tbsp agave nectar ( Agave nectar  has a low glycemic index and makes a healthy sugar substitute)


1 TBSP WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE: 1 tbsp soy sauce with a smidgen of vinegar to add a slightly tangy note. Vegan versions of worcestershire sauce are also on the market, but be sure to read labels carefully.


THAI CURRY PASTES: Thai curry pastes are great to have on hand for quick curries, but vegans need to watch out because most off-the-shelf products contain animal ingredients. The pastes are super-easy to make at home, and you can’t beat the flavor.