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I Tried Out The Most Popular Vegan Substitutes On Pinterest

No eggs, milk, or cheese in sight.

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Hi! I'm Tabatha and I've been vegetarian forever.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

If we're being honest, I stopped eating meat because vegetarians got to skip the lunch queue at my primary school. But that was back when I was 6, and 20 years later I'm still well and truly veggie.

I go through phases of being vegan, but for some reason I never manage to fully commit.

The longest vegan stint I ever managed was about two years towards the end of school, which was easy because I was young enough for my mum to still cook for me. Since then I've only ever managed to stay vegan for the odd couple of months here and there.

I try to avoid dairy whenever I eat out, but I'm terrible at cooking vegan food at home. Even though I'm a relatively good cook, I find thinking about vegan substitutes (think: mashed banana instead of egg, avocado instead of butter, cashews instead of cheese) stressful and overwhelming.

So I read up on dairy substitutes on Pinterest and decided to try out a bunch of vegan recipes to see if they worked.

1. You can use mashed bananas and chia seeds to make pancakes that actually taste really nice!

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitutes: Banana and chia seeds instead of eggs, soya milk instead of regular milk.

Method: This was astonishingly easy! I just mixed all the ingredients together and then poured the mixture into a frying pan, like you would with regular pancakes. They come out more like American pancakes than crêpes, and they cook faster than normal, but other than that the method is exactly the same. Honestly this was so easy, you cannot go wrong.

Did it work: Yes! My first pancake burnt because I wasn't paying attention, but after that everything went perfectly. I even felt kinda healthy eating them, which cannot be said for normal pancakes. I coved mine in agave syrup (instead of honey) and blueberries and they were lovely. 10/10, would recommend.

You can find the recipe I used here.

2. The liquid from a tin of chickpeas is called ~aquafaba~ and you can use it to make delicious chocolate mousse.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitutes: Aquafaba instead of egg whites.

Method: First, you melt some dark chocolate and let it cool. While you're doing that, you drain a tin of chickpeas and whip up the liquid. It looks and smells kinda gross, but then it forms white peaks which you stir the chocolate into before leaving it in the fridge to chill.

Bonus aquafaba fact: You can't over-whisk it, so it's actually easier to cook with than egg whites.

Did it work? Even though I had read a lot about cooking with aquafaba, I didn't really believe it would work. Whisking chickpea water just sounded too weird. But I was wrong to be sceptical, because it was lovely! The whisking took aaaages (without a food processor, my arm would have fallen off) but the mousse was delicious. It was light and fluffy and it honestly didn't taste like chickpeas at all. It was maybe a tiiiiny bit waterier than normal chocolate mousse, but honestly I'm not complaining.

You can find the recipe I used here.

3. Scrambled tofu and nutritional yeast is almost as good as scrambled eggs.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitutes: Tofu and nutritional yeast instead of eggs.

Method: Crumble a regular block of tofu, then fry it with chopped onion and green pepper. Add soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and turmeric to make it yellow.

Did it work: This was a really nice breakfast! The texture was almost exactly the same as scrambled eggs, and it was genuinely really tasty. But, and I'm sorry to say this, it didn't really taste like eggs. That said, it was yummy and I'd make it again.

You can find the recipe I used here.

4. You can make blueberry muffins with flax seeds and applesauce.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitutes: Applesauce instead of eggs, soya milk and vinegar instead of milk.

Method: This was kinda weird. You let the soy milk and vinegar curdle (bear with me) while you mix everything else together. Eventually you combine all the ingredients, as you would with normal muffins, and bake them.

Did it work: Kind of. It would be very generous to call the things I made muffins, but they were perfectly edible. Unlike normal muffins, they didn't rise in the oven at all, which meant my first batch were very flat. After that I filled my muffin cases muuuuch higher, which made them look a bit more like muffins. But they weren't fluffy, and you could taste the bicarb in them. I'd give this another go, but I'm not 100% sold on them.

You can find the recipe I used here.

5. Pesto doesn't need to contain parmesan — you can make it with flax seeds instead.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitutes: Avocado, almonds, and flax seeds instead of parmesan.

Method: This is literally as easy as making normal pesto. You dry fry the flax seeds and blanch the almonds (peeling their skin off is oddly satisfying) and then you blend everything together.

Did it work: Totally. The batch I made was astonishingly garlicky, but I was very much OK with that. Honestly, this was just as easy as making regular pesto. I sprinkled nutritional yeast on top of mine and although it didn't taste very cheesy, it was perfectly tasty. I'm definitely going to make this again.

You can find the recipe I used here.

6. You can make peanut butter and chocolate ice cream (yes, ice cream!) with frozen bananas.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitute: Frozen bananas instead of condensed milk.

Method: OK, this is wild. It requires the tiniest amount of forward-planning: You need to chop up some bananas and stick them in the freezer the night before you want to eat it. But then you just blend the frozen bananas with peanut butter and cocoa powder. That's literally it.

Did it work: This was honestly like magic. The final product was more like gelato than ice cream, which tbh is a better result than I was hoping for. It was so delicious and it's way healthier than normal ice cream and honestly I'm never going to stop going on about it. Go and freeze all your bananas immediately.

You can find the recipe I used here.

7. Vegans don't have to live without mac 'n' cheese: You can just use cashews and nutritional yeast.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitutes: Cashews instead of milk, and nutritional yeast instead of cheese.

Method: This one requires a bit of foresight too: You need to soak your cashews in water for a few hours before you start cooking. The weird thing about this meal is that it's all cooked on a hob, and not in the oven.

Did it work: Kiiiiind of. It didn't taste like cheese at all, but it was a perfectly nice onion-y pasta sauce. The texture was a little bit grainy, which made me wonder whether I should have used a liquidiser, rather than a blender, for the sauce. Other than that, it was perfectly tasty and I'm just sad that I didn't mange to find a good cheese substitute.

You can find the recipe I used here.

8. The best chocolate cake I have ever made contained avocado and vegetable oil instead of butter and eggs!

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Substitutes: Avocado instead of eggs, vegetable oil instead of butter.

Cake method: You make two cakes in exactly the same way normally would, except you use avocados and oil. It's really easy.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Icing method: While your cakes cool, you make the icing. This is the most exciting bit because it's bright green. All you do is mix mashed avocado with lemon juice and icing sugar. And once everything has cooled, you assemble your cake as normal.

Did it work: 100% yes. This is the best cake I have ever made, including nonvegan cakes. I am honestly so proud of it. The cakes cracked a bit in the oven, but I feel like all cakes do that. The cake was a bit denser than normal (my boyfriend thought it was too rich), but I was into it. The icing was the major revelation though. It basically tasted like sweet avocado, which I guess is an acquired taste, but I loved it. I'm going to make this exact cake for every special occasion from now on.

You can find the recipe I used here.

Sian Butcher / BuzzFeed

(Unless you think sweet avocado sounds gross, in which case you are wrong.)

I learned that vegan cooking isn't stressful at all!

Most of these substitutes were super easy. I was a disappointed with the muffins that didn't rise, and I'm still not convinced that there is a good substitute for cheese, but the pancakes, ice cream, and chocolate cake are all total revelations. I'm definitly going to use a bunch of these recipes again.

And please let me know in the comments if you know any other vegan recipes I can try – especially if you know how to mimic cheese. 🧀

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