Lecture 14: Ingredient Substitution

Before Viewing the Lecture:
  1. Required: Read pages 31-44 in Vegan in Volume, review pages 32 ("cheese" dip) and 114 (whipped "cream") in Simply Vegan.
  2. Recommended: visit an area Farmersí Market to see whatís in season and an area natural foods market to see the variety of vegan products available.

By the end of this lecture, the student should be able to:

  1. List "regular" foods available that are also vegan
  2. Differentiate between vegetarian and vegan ingredients
  3. Suggest vegan replacements for non-vegetarian ingredients
  4. Design a menu using specialty (such as fake meats) and non-specialty (such as produce or dried beans) vegan ingredients
  5. Read processed food labels to determine if foods are vegan
What You Got:
As with any cuisine, many people feel they have to go out and purchase all new ingredients. Many, many ingredients and foods are already vegan and are already on your shelves. This is what we can think of:

What can you add to this list?

From this list alone, you can create an amazing array of menu items. You can stew dried apricots, raisins, apples, and cranberries with a small amount of apple juice concentrate, flavor it with vanilla extract, powdered ginger, cinnamon and cloves and make a fruit compote that can be served warm, over sorbet, freshly baked cake, hot oatmeal, or pancakes or can be served on its own as an entrťe for lunch or as a side dish for dinner. You could put a crust over it and make a "winter fruit cobbler." And you havenít even purchased one special item!

Letís go on. You can combine several types of drained canned beans with fresh or canned chilies and salsa and make a fast chili. Mix up some hot water cornbread (made with corn meal, water, and margarine) and serve it on the side or use it as a crust to bake for a chili pie. Take the cornmeal and water and simmer it for a hot breakfast cereal, served with melted margarine and raisins, or pepper it up and drop it by spoonfuls into hot fat for hushpuppies. Let the cornmeal cool in the refrigerator for several hours. You can then slice it (or cut it out with cookie cutters) and grill it, bake it, or fry it. Makes a great side dish, served with fresh basil and tomatoes, or seasoned with garlic and oregano or rosemary. Mix frozen and/or canned vegetables with tomato sauce or vegetable juice cocktail, add your favorite seasonings and simmer to create your own vegetable soup. You can add pasta and beans, as well.

You get the idea - what have you got in mind?

Whereís the Beef? - Who Cares!!!
I donít like to think of "substituting" ingredients as much as offering alternatives. For example, when cooking for omnivores, if someone says " I love hollandaise sauce on my broccoli, but I wish you could make it low fat," I donít try to create a sauce that should consist of egg yolks and butter from oil and egg substitute. No one would thank me for the mess that would ensue. Rather, I try to suggest alternates, such as a spicy tomato-chili sauce or a velvety tofu sauce for the broccoli.

Sometimes this philosophy works and sometimes it doesnít. Sometimes people just want the same food, only made with other ingredients. And sometimes it just takes too long, or you donít have the equipment or the expertise to create something brand new. There are techniques for both ways - alternate or substitute.

A. Alternate to Meat Ingredients

  1. Vegetable or mushroom broth rather than meat broth. Veggie or mushroom broth (you can find it canned and frozen, or make it yourself; there are recipes in your books) can be excellent alternates for meat broth. You may have to add a bit more seasoning to vegetable broth to get the "heartiness" of meat.
  2. Tofu, seitan and tempeh. Review pages 32-33 in Vegan in Volume. This gives a run down on these items. As you know, tofu can be purchased in several textures. Extra firm tofu can be cut and grilled, baked or barbecued just like meat. The same goes for seitan and tempeh. All three have unique flavors and textures, some experiment with them. All three can also be purchased in different flavors, such as Southwestern, curry and barbecue. Weíve seen " southwestern seitan steak" and "curried tofu steak" on menus.
  3. Portobello mushrooms. Considered to be very exotic, portobellos are simply button mushrooms that are allowed to grow! Portobellos are chewy and tough (in a good way) and almost mimic meat. You can marinate the caps (discard the stems, as they are tough, unless you are making a stock) in Italian dressing and grill or bake them or throw them, sliced, in stir fries. Omnivores will think they are eating meat and vegans may become alarmed because it seems as if thereís an animal product on their plate (fill them in!).

B. Substitutes
Fake or substitute meats are widely available and can be made from any combination of grains, soy, nuts and veggies. Check the labels in case anyone is allergic to nuts or wheat. There are super convenience items, such as fake deli slices, which are used cold, on sandwiches, or chopped into soups, stews and salads. There are convenience items that need to be cooked, such as veggie burgers, soy "crumbles" (resembling ground beef), soy and grain sausage (look for "soyrizo," a spicy soy sausage that adds lots of flavors to soups, sauces, grains and beans), breakfast strips, fake turkey and chicken (one brand Tofurky) and even fake beef roast (one brand is Field Roast). More information can be found here: FAQ General or

Moo-less Menus
Vegan substitutions for dairy are no problem at all. "Fake" sour cream, cheese, yogurt and cream cheese are available in many forms, usually based with soy. They are available in different flavors and fat-levels. Two notes of caution:

  1. Read the label for the type of enzymes used in cheeses. You may have to contact the manufacturer to ascertain if they come from a vegan source or check this list.
  2. Experiment. Many soy cheeses cook well (i.e. melt or stand up to heat the way you want them to) and others donít . Try different brands before you use them for a dinner party.

If you donít want to go the "fake" route, you can make your own soy sour cream and whipped cream (you have recipes) and tofu can be used instead of cheese for some recipes.

Tofu is an excellent sauce base, rather than milk. Puree firm or silken tofu, heat it and add seasonings for a creamy white sauce. You can also use tofu as part of the liquid when reconstituting canned soups. Read through the recipes in both books that use tofu. Youíll never miss the cream. Soy, rice, nut and grain milks all have their own personality. Once again, experiment with the different varieties and brands. I find that soy milk is a good substitute for milk in savory dishes, as it is more neutral in flavor. For example, if I were making a garlic "cream" sauce I would use soy milk. Rice and nut milks lend themselves more easily to sweet items, such as cereals, puddings and custards (and this way, you use less sweetener). Be careful with all veggie milks, as they easily break down with intense heat. Add them slowly to hot liquids, stirring constantly and heat them slowly. For more information read Vegetarian Journal's Non-Dairy Product Guide.

Vegan Baking
The big issue in vegan baking is the eggs. Depending on the recipe, you can use tofu or oil in place of eggs. There is a vegan product, called egg replacer, manufactured by Ener-G Foods ( Look at the discussion on page 55 in Vegan in Volume about vegan egg substitutes.

Vegan baking is not going to be as delicate as baking with eggs (as in angel food cake). However, if you have the patience, and are a true baking artist (Iím afraid Iím not) you can produce lovely, wonderful vegan cakes. Cookies, muffins and breads are a bit easier for the beginning vegan baker. You have recipes in both books for easy vegan baking. Note that most will be moist and flavorful!

Some vegans do not use refined sugar. Rice and maple syrups, fruit juice concentrates and unrefined sugars (such as palm sugar) can be used instead. One brand of vegan sweetener is Succanat. You will have to work with baking recipes to substitute, as each brand is a little different and each baking recipe acts a little different, especially if you are substituting liquid sweeteners for dry. I canít make any generalizations about vegan sweeteners, you really have to work with them for success. Sugar substitutes are generally vegan, but they do not bake well. Most manufacturers do not recommend baking with them, unless you get specific recipes. Veggie milks can be substituted for cowsí milk without any difficulty. Just be sure if the recipe calls for whole milk you use whole-fat veggie milk, not a low fat or fat-free version. Remember that baking is a science, and the ingredients all have particular purposes and interact with each other in important ways.

There! You have a lot to think about and a lot of kitchen time to work with. Have fun - vegan ingredients are a pleasure to use. Onto catering!

From Foodservice Update Summer 1996:


By Rachel Himmelheber

A glance at the ingredients list of a loaf of bread from most commercial bakeries can be astounding: the list is long and the names are often unpronounceable. However, the thought of baking your own bread in quantity can sometimes be just as frightening. Homemade bread has the unfair reputation of being a time-consuming, tedious process, one that only a master baker could possibly successfully undertake. Fortunately, these assumptions are false, particularly if you want to make large batches of bread. With a few pieces of equipment, some beginning recipes, and several tips to get you started, you should be well on your way to making delicious homemade bread with a minimum of time and unnecessary ingredients.

First, I recommend finding some traditional, small batch bread recipes that you like and multiplying them, rather than searching for large batch recipe cookbooks. Most bread recipes make two loaves of bread; I suggest multiplying by six. Twelve loaves of bread is more manageable than it sounds if you are using a commercial mixer with a bread hook attachment. Second, if your facility does not own a commercial mixer or a bread hook attachment, I strongly suggest purchasing one. They are expensive, but they more than pay for themselves. Many have more uses than just mixing bread; some come with shredding attachments as well as other mixer attachments such as whisks and paddles. The paddle attachment can be used for any quick bread recipes, while the bread hook could mix and knead your bread entirely for you.

While the bread hook could do all of the kneading process for you, I donít recommend this approach. I believe the taste and quality of the bread suffers without any hand kneading. Mix all of the ingredients in your mixer and continue adding flour and allowing the machine to ďkneadĒ your bread until the dough just begins to stay together in one piece. I then, with the help of liberally floured hands, take my dough out of the mixer and hand knead it on a floured board or table. Kneading is really very simple. If you have never done it before, James Beardís Beard on Bread has a very detailed explanation with pictures that is invaluable. Depending upon your mixer and the time you have allowed your bread in the mixer, your hand kneading time may vary anywhere from three to ten minutes. Basically, your bread is ready for its first rising when the dough is smooth and elastic, not sticky or lumpy.

Bread recipes, particularly quick bread recipes, are often chock-full of butter, milk, and eggs. These additions substantially increase the breadís fat and cholesterol level. Butter, milk, and eggs also make your bread unappealing to vegan diners. Milk and butter are easily replaced with soy milk or rice milk and margarine, oil, or shortening. Eggs, however, are more difficult to replace. Eggs act as a binder, helping to keep your bread together, as well as a lightener, making your bread fluffier. In some quick breads, such as the banana one included in this article, eggs can be replaced with a combination of baking powder, baking soda, oil, and bananas. Pureed tofu can also be substituted, as it is in the Dinner Roll recipe. If your diners are not vegans, lowfat yogurt is a good substitute for eggs in quick bread or muffin recipes. Simply replace each egg with one tablespoon of lowfat or nonfat yogurt. The yogurt results in a lighter muffin than the tofu does. (While I have not tried soy yogurt as an egg substitute, I think it could possibly be a viable option for vegans.)

If you are concerned with fat content, there are many lowfat soy milks on the market now. I have also successfully replaced the oil or margarine in some breads with water, as in the Cinnamon Raisin Bread, or with mashed bananas or applesauce (in quick breads). Light tofu also works just as regular fat tofu would. However, light or nonfat margarine are not good for baking. You may replace the margarine used to oil your bowl for the rising and your baking sheets with lowfat cooking spray.

It has been said that while cooking is an art, baking is a science. And, while it is true that there is less room for improvisation in baking, many bread recipes are extremely adaptable. If you find a good basic recipe, such as the French Bread recipe included in this article, you can add to that and come up with many variations.

Basic French Bread
(Makes twelve medium-size loaves)

10 Tablespoons yeast
3-3/4 cups warm water (wrist temperature, about 100-115 degrees)
12 cups cool water (3 quarts)
6 Tablespoons salt
About 40 cups of unbleached white flour (approximately 10 pounds)

Proof the yeast in the warm water. (Sprinkle the yeast in the warm water and set it aside. Your yeast has ďproofedĒ when the mixture foams, swells, and bubbles. This step ensures that your yeast has not spoiled.) Meanwhile, pour the salt into your mixing bowl and add the cool water. Add the yeast when it is ready. Then, slowly add the flour, mixing between additions. (I keep the mixer on the entire time. This step helps to reduce the amount of gas bubbles in your bread, as well as making for a smoother, less lumpy loaf overall.)

When the bread begins to form one cohesive mass that stops sticking to the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a floured board. Knead in some more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Do not be alarmed if your flour amount varies from the suggested 40 cups. You may need more or less depending on the quality of the flour and even the weather.) When your dough is ready, put it in oiled bowls, and turn it around a few times to make sure the loaves are coated with the oil. (This step prevents your bread from cracking and drying out.) Cover the bread with a towel. Leave the bowls in a warm, dry place until it has doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hours.

When dough has doubled, punch it down, knead it for a few minutes to rid it of the gas bubbles, and form into loaves (round loaves, braided loaves, baguettes). Place on oiled baking sheets and let rise again, 30 to 45 minutes. Slash your loaves diagonally a few times with a serrated knife and brush with cold water, oil, or melted margarine. Bake in a 335 degree commercial oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. The loaves will sound hollow when tapped if they are done. If the bottoms are soft, remove from the baking sheet and allow them to cook for five more minutes directly on the oven rack.

Please note: All the variations of French Bread listed below make 12 medium-size loaves of bread. If you make braided loaves, it may make less.

Wheat Bread
Replace up to 30 cups of flour with whole wheat. I Like a 50/50 mix. The more whole wheat flour, the denser and heavier your bread will be. It will also rise less.

Cracked Wheat Bread
This bread calls for 20 cups of white flour (about 5 pounds), 15 cups of whole wheat (about 3-1/4 pounds), and 5 cups of cracked wheat or bulgur wheat. Add the cracked wheat to the water and the salt in the mixing bowl first. This bread is wonderfully crunchy and is perfect for sandwiches. It makes beautiful round loaves or braided loaves, particularly when sprinkled with additional cracked wheat. Resist the temptation to cut into it while still warm. It is particularly delicate.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
This bread can be made with half wheat and half white flour, but I prefer this bread when made with all unbleached white. Add 3-1/2 cups brown sugar to the water and salt. If your brown sugar is hard and crumbly, try to dissolve all of it. Then, add an additional cup of water. This water replaces the recipeís oil. Add 5 cups of raisins and 2-1/2 Tablespoons of cinnamon to the mixing bowl. Mix as usual. This bread will not sound hollow; it is a soft bread. Therefore it is done when it is properly browned, about 25 minutes. Do not cut this bread until it is cool; it will be very moist and doughy in the middle while warm. This bread is wonderful served with a powdered sugar icing or glaze as a brunch or breakfast dish.

Rosemary-Onion Bread
Add a minimum amount of wheat flour to this bread; it is much better as a light, fluffy loaf. Replace the salt with 6 Tablespoons garlic salt. Add 4 Tablespoons dried rosemary, slightly crushed with your fingers. Add 1 1/2 finely chopped large onions to the mixture. (If you prefer, you may use the equivalent of granulated onions. Do not use onion powder.) I also like to add about 2 cups of sugar to this bread; it is optional, but I feel it really brings out the flavors.

Granola Bread
Reduce the water in your bowl to 8 cups. Use the 4 cups of water to soak 6 cups of oats for about 10 minutes. (This water should be hot, but it need not be boiling.) Add the oats to the water and salt. Add 4 cups brown sugar, 3 cups chopped walnuts, 3 cups raisins, 2-1/2 cups sunflower seeds, and 1-1/2 teaspoons each cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Add 1 teaspoon cloves. This bread is a dense bread by nature; add up to 30 cups wheat flour in place of the white. (This bread, like the Cinnamon Raisin, may not sound hollow when done.) Serve the bread with a warm beverage at breakfast.

Light Dinner Rolls
(Makes about 200 medium-size rolls)

10 Tablespoons yeast
2-1/2 cups warm water
3-1/2 cups melted margarine
12 cups hot soy milk (3 quarts)
2-1/2 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons salt
2-1/4 cups blended soft tofu, mixed in a blender or food processor
20 cups unbleached white flour (about 5 pounds)
15 cups whole wheat pastry flour (about 3-1/4 pounds)

Proof yeast. Add ingredients to bowl in order given. Mix. Knead. Let rise. Punch down. Knead. Roll out into individual crescents or knots of desired size. Let rise again. Brush with additional margarine if desired. Bake at 335 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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March 30, 2001

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