Save the Earth with these plant-based swaps that won’t sacrifice on taste
Plant-based dining and veganism is on the rise. This movement is fuelled by an ongoing concern for the environment and sustainability compounded by the fact that the pandemic was started by questionable consumption of wild animals.
Far from just being a lifestyle for tree-hugging activists, chefs from the world’s top restaurants have begun to embrace this ethos. Eleven Madison in New York City, for instance, has announced its intention to go plant-based. Earlier in January this year, the Michelin Guide handed a star to ONA, a completely vegan restaurant located in Bordeaux, France.
The momentum is clear. And if you’re just starting on your journey, know this: It takes time to research and make decisions on stocking up your pantry with non-animal based products. Thankfully this is a path that’s more than well-trodden. Here, we pave the way for you to get started with vegan swaps and plant-based pantry staples. The best part? You won’t even have to sacrifice on taste.
We start with the easiest swap: the next time you’re looking for milk at the grocery store, look instead for oat, almond or soy milk. Each plant-based milk has its own merits. Oat milk is loved by many for its rich, comforting flavour while almond milk adds a dash of nuttiness to your morning coffee. Those looking to increase protein in their diet can go for soy milk which contains all nine essential amino acids to support bodily functions. Plus, research has shown that Asian populations tend to have a higher incidence of lactose intolerance so don’t be surprised if you find your gut health improving after weaning off dairy.
Tofu may be a high-protein staple in Asia but far from just your soups and stir fries, the soft silken version can be made into scrambled “eggs” and even as the base of vegan ice creams. To scramble it, simply mash the tofu with a fork and stir it into a heated and greased pan. Add a pinch of turmeric powder to give it a golden glow and season with salt and pepper. The secret ingredient most vegans have in their pantry is black salt, also known as kala namak which on its own has an eggy scent. To use as the base of vegan ice cream, blend the silken tofu with melted chocolate, plant-based milk, vanilla extract, and your preference for sweeteners. Add a pinch of salt (because chocolate loves salt) and let it freeze for a few hours.
It’s hard to resist the simple pleasure of biting into warm toast and tasting the salted melted butter dribble into your mouth. You don’t have to say goodbye to this sensation as there are plenty of butter substitutes in the market. Nuttelex, a brand which hails from Australia is the butter substitute of choice for many on plant-based diets. It has the taste, texture and spreadability of butter without the cholesterol — and it’s wallet-friendly to boot. Use it as you would regular butter, and yes that includes baking. Brave souls have even made croissants from scratch out of these plant-based spreads.
Impossible, Beyond, Quorn and Omnimeat — these are just some of the most well-known names in the market borne at a time when companies are racing to create meat replacements that are increasingly becoming more convincing. The next time you’re looking for ground beef, go for Impossible Beef; these patties are made using cutting edge technology where the taste of blood has been replicated with “heme” a blood-like fluid produced by fermentation. For minced pork, opt for Omnimeat while Quorn is known for its frozen meat-like substitutes. Think nuggets, “chicken” strips and even fishless fingers.