Plant-Powered Dairy Alternatives to Fuel Your Veganuary
When making the adjustment to veganism, dairy is often the food group that people not only miss the most, but also find challenging to replace.
Luckily, today there are various plant-based alternatives on the market – and even more so now that Veganuary is in full swing! – so you can find everything from plant-based milk for your cereal and grated ‘mozzarella’ for homemade pizza, to vegan cream for desserts. What’s more, making homemade alternatives is much easier than you think!
Switching to vegan products also opens up a world of possibilities: with dairy products, your options are typically limited to cow, sheep, or goats’ milk; either skimmed, or full-fat. With non-dairy versions, however, the world is your (vegan) oyster. Today, people are making plant milk, yoghurt, cream, butter, and even ice-cream with everything from oats, soya beans, almonds, and cashews, to coconuts, hemp, and hazelnuts. So rather than feeling deprived, you’ll likely discover new tastes and textures that you didn’t realise were possible! Here are some simple recipes so you can get started creating your own DIY dairy delights.
Is there anything better than melted butter on toast? Butter is one of life’s little luxuries, but it’s also extremely versatile. Besides working its magic on bread, it can be used in various baking recipes. There are surprisingly few vegan butters on the market today, and many of them contain unsustainable palm oil. Luckily, making your own butter is quite simple, and there are various methods and ingredients, including coconut and olive oils. Keep in mind that as olive oil butter is soft and melts easily, it’s ideal for use in winter. Soya butter, on the other hand, is great on toast or in pastries.
From toasties to pizza and cheeseboards, this is one versatile dairy product that can be particularly difficult to cut out of your diet. But, the good news is that vegan alternatives have come a long way in recent years. Today, you can find everything from grated and spreadable cheese to sliceable blocks, plus there are less processed versions available, made with natural ingredients like cashews and coconut oil – though it’s still worth checking the ingredients list for unnecessary additives. Remember that vegan cheese in no way perfectly mimics traditional cheese in taste or texture, so it may take you time to find one that you like.
Making vegan cheese at home is easier than you think, too, and there are plenty of recipes to help you along the way. As with plant milks, nuts and coconut make great bases, as they add flavour and texture; you can then make variations with ingredients such as herbs and garlic, plus you can add a ‘cheesy’ flavour with the addition of lemon juice or yeast flakes.
There are a plethora of plant-based milks on the market today; the majority of which can easily be used as replacements to traditional milk in your cuppa, cereal, or in cooking and baking. If you’re buying commercial plant milk, be sure to check the ingredients list, as many will contain unnecessary additives and preservatives. They can be made with various nuts, seeds, and grains – including oats, cashews, coconut, hemp, and almonds – and the majority are made simply by soaking and blending the plant with water, before straining. You may find that you need to experiment a bit in order to find the right plant milk for you, as flavours and textures can vary significantly. For example, coconut milk arguably works best in hot drinks, while cashew milk is well-suited for cooking. When making your own plant milk at home, if you want to inject a bit more flavour into a basic recipe, you can simply try adding Himalayan salt, ground cardamom or cinnamon, vanilla extract, or maple syrup.
From squeezing atop a lentil burger, to dressing up a Waldorf or potato salad, it can be helpful to have a vegan mayo at your disposal. There’s an increasing number of plant mayonnaise offerings on the market today, thanks to the likes of Biona, LEON, Bonsan, and Mr Organic. But making your own mayo is incredibly simple; plus you can make just the amount that you need, and experiment with different flavours!
When it comes to the plant-based game, commercial versions of yoghurt, cream, and ice cream are arguably some of the best in the vegan dairy realm. There are some great options on the market today that taste just as good, if not better, than the real thing (we’re looking at you, Magnum Vegan). That said, they’re also simple swaps to make at home! When it comes to making dairy-free cream, you first need to consider its use before finding a recipe – will you use it as a creamy filling for desserts, whipped cream atop cake, or as a savoury option like soured cream? One of the simplest ways to create a thick, sweet cream is to refrigerate a tin of coconut milk. Leave it overnight to set, then when you need it, open the tin upside-down and scoop out the thicker coconut cream that has set on top, leaving the water. This can then be whipped with a bit of vanilla essence and icing sugar for a quick and easy cream that is beautiful served with homemade cakes and desserts!