Committing to cutting down on meat or switching to a plant-based diet altogether is good for you and is a more sustainable choice for the environment—but let’s face it, the texture and taste of meat and meat byproducts are hard to adequately replace with alternatives like tofu or beans.
If you are looking for some inspiration for your plant-based pantry, look no further. Here are 10 essential plant-based ingredients that help to create food that is comparable in texture and flavor of meat.
Ground flax meal. This can be used as an egg replacement and a binding agent in baking recipes, such as banana bread. If you grind whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder, it can also be used as a thickener and emulsifier for salad dressings.
Dairy-free beverages. Switch cow milk out for unsweetened plant-based milk, like oat or almond milk, in both sweet and savory dishes.
Raw cashews. Soak cashews overnight and throw them into a blender for a lovely cream-like substance that can be used in pasta sauces or desserts.
Psyllium husk. Psyllium husk is a plant-based fiber that absorbs water well, giving it a gel-like texture that makes it a great binding agent.
Chickpea flour. This ingredient is quite versatile. When you cook it with enough liquid, the texture becomes one that is reminiscent of tofu, which makes it fantastic for dishes such as a plant-based quiche. Cook it with less liquid for more of a pancake or omelet-like texture.
Smoked tofu. Give your plain tofu a break and opt for smoked tofu once in a while. The texture is quite firm and dry in comparison to regular tofu and it has a smoky barbecue flavor.
Refined coconut oil. Switch out butter for refined coconut oil, which doesn’t have a potent coconut flavor.
Capers. Chopped capers have a strong, briny flavor so they can replace anchovies in most recipes.
Cultured coconut. Sub out traditional yogurt in any recipe with unsweetened cultured coconut, which has a velvety smoothness and similar consistency to regular yogurt.
Nutritional yeast. Forget the parmesan and sprinkle nutritional yeast on your pasta plate instead! But don’t use too much, or your meal will taste like—you guessed it—yeast.
Finding delicious and versatile substitutes for animal products makes switching to a meat-free diet so much easier. We hope these help get you started on your plant-based cooking journey!