vegan alternatives for cooking.
I would like to start of, as with many of my posts, to tell you than I am not a vegan. But as a Ovo-lacto-Pescetarian ( damn that is a mouthful) I use a lot of vegan products and I do eat a lot of vegan meals. Whenever I go into a grocery store, I always keep my eyes peeled for new vegan products, even if just go in to buy milk, I will still have a look, it makes me happy to see how many more vegan alternatives there are compared to even two years ago. In addition to that, there are not only specific brands who produce vegan foods anymore, Pick and Pay as a lot of their own vegan foods under their own brand, same with Woolworth’s. This saves you from having to drive around looking for a specific store to buy things at.
Vegan yes yes and no no´s
Sausages –Yes Yes! My favourite meat substitute, Fry´s plant based sausages are top of the list. They have some great varieties, traditional, braai style and spicy. My personal favourite is the spicy, the braai style and traditional taste pretty much the same to me. They can be fried in a pan with margarine and sliced up and added to pasta to make a great fettuccine, they can be cooked on the braai for an amazing hot dog and they can be cooked as is for your protein on your dinner plate. As with many, many, many, many maaaannnnyyyy vegan products, they are a bit processed, there is quite a bit of salt, 1,2g per sausage, which is half of your RDA (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/sodium/art-20045479) so I would not eat them every day, but honestly, sometimes I just want to stand around the braai like everyone else eating my damn hot-dog!
Polony –Yes Yes! My best find yet, also from Fry´s foods. This was worth the money, unfortunately it is a bit expensive, R44 for 250g, but so yummy. It looks tastes and feels like polony or sandwich ham rolls. I’ve made toasties with is and I have fried it in a pan with tomatoes and had it for breakfast.
Yoghurt – Yes yes! Woolworths has an amazing soy based yoghurt alternative. It is their own brand and it comes in different flavours, including vanilla, black cherry and mid berries. It is a bit more expensive than dairy based yoghurt, but it is yummy and nutritious.
Soy Mince – Yes yes! There are a couple of brands that offer a soy mince as an alternative to beef or pork mince. Knorrox and Imana both make soy mince products that are cheap and tasty. The flavours include, chilli beef, mutton, savoury, oxtail, tomato and onion and chicken flavour. It is super easy to make, add it to a pot with some boiling water until all the water is absorbed and it is done! You can have it over spaghetti or in a vetkoek, drooooool.
Cheese – No no! The only vegan brand I have found so far that is consistently in all the shops is Nature and Moi. They have some different flavours of coconut oil based cheese (Gouda cheddar and Mozzarella) It looks and behaves like dairy cheese, you can melt it grate it or cube it and add it to salads, toasties and pasta dishes. However, I got tired of that taste very very quickly. All three of them taste exactly the same, and because it is made mainly from coconut oil, it leaves a filmy taste in your mouth. I did enjoy the first few slices, but before I was even halfway through the block, I couldn’t stomach it any more. It is also quite expensive, R52 for 200g.
Nuggets – No no! Quorn has a food called ´meat free pieces´ it is supposed to resemble chicken strips that you would use in a stir fry. I spiced it, marinated it, baked and grilled it. Just no. It has a horrible fake taste. I didn’t even finish the dish I made for myself and it all ended up in the bin. I was very disappointed in this product, as I really hate wasting food, but I could not stomach this. You know when you think of vegan food; sometimes you have this stereotypical idea of what it would taste like, fake, bland, soy based? That is exactly how it tasted to me and it has made me hesitant of trying new products from this brand. I have to be completely honest, I did try this in 2018, and they may have come a little ways in improving and refining this product, but I am weary. If you disagree, and you have had a pleasant experience with their products, feel free to let me know and I would be happy to revise my opinion.
Milk alternatives – Soy, yes yes! My favourite of all the milk substitutes, not only is it the cheapest, but it is the only alternative that I have found so far that is fortified with B12, which is a very important vitamin for us non meat eaters. Apart from that, it is very high in protein (7g in one cup) and contains all 9 essential (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine) amino acids. It can also be added to dishes without introducing a new flavour to your food, I mainly add it to pasta for some creaminess. It also comes in different flavours and there are added sugar and unsweetened versions.
Almond No no! Expensive and yucky are words that come to mind when I think of almond milk. It is heavily processed and when added to coffee tastes like plastic. It has less fibre and protein than soy milk. The only benefit is that it is high in Vitamin E. Again, I have to be honest, I have only tried two brands of almond milk, and I had this experience with both brands on separate occasions. If you have a recommendation of almond milk that you love (that isn’t R44 per litre) let me know!
There’s is a loooot of vegan products that I did not mention here, and if you have some suggestions for alternatives, please feel free to share them with me, I am always keen to try out new things.