Being vegan can use a lot of fancy and top of the range expensive ingredients – if you want it to!
These are our top ten vegan essentials. We consider these kitchen essentials to be not-that-fancy and not-that-expensive, although these things are obviously relative. Cheaper and budget versions of most products do exist, but may require some shopping around.
1. Butter replacement
A butter replacement is definitely a vegan essential for us, for spreading in sandwiches, on toast, and in baking. We use Flora Original to replace butter in all of thesecplaces: for spreading on toast, spreading in sandwiches, and baking.
Cheaper butter replacements are available, but these tend to have a much higher water content, and so do not substitute as well. More expensive butter replacements are available, but tend to taste quite distinct e.g., of coconut.
2. Milk replacement
We consider milk replacements to be a vegan essentials, for hot drinks, smoothies, and in cooking and baking. Try a few different milk replacements to find one you like.
We use Alpro Oat Original to replace milk in coffee day to day, and use Oatly Barista in coffee as a weekend treat, as it is delicious but much more expensive. We use soya milk in porridge, smoothies, and baking as it has a high protein content, but avoid using it anywhere it may split (e.g., in things with a high temperature and/or high acid level).
3. Nutritional yeast
We consider nutritional yeast a vegan essential: it makes things taste cheese-ish, and is used in a lot of non-vegan foods as a flavouring. The most widely available brand is Engevita.
Once you’ve been eating nutritional yeast for a while, you may find that you pour a thick blanket over everything. However, in the first instance, a teaspoon of it in creamy sauces goes a really long way. Stir nutritional yeast right in and it will dissolve and lose the slightly odd fish-flake-lik appearance.
4. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Proteins are vegan essentials. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is cheap and delicious – a real old school classic. Don’t be put off by its appearance dried!
A cup of TVP, rehydrated in stock with a tin of tomatoes, makes a really good bolognaise sauce, and it’s great in chilli. Any dish using TVP benefits from enthusiastic seasoning and the addition of a good amount of oil, as on its own it is very low fat and bland in taste.
5. Tinned beans
6. Frozen peas
Proteins are vegan essentials. Frozen peas are inexpensive and sit in the freezer for a really long time. Add a cup of these to most meals, to contribute toward your five-a-day and add a great source of protein.
7. Frozen sausages
Proteins are vegan essentials, and frozen sausages are really handy. It’s worth trying a few different different brands to find one you like. Some are very non-meaty, filled with vegetables or lentils; others are more meaty. I like Linda McCartney sausages, because they are the ones I’ve been eating forever; my husband is more of a fan of Richmond Meat-Free sausages.
8. Nuts and seeds
Proteins are vegan essentials, and nuts and seeds are a great and easy way of incorporating proteins. Eat nuts and seeds as a snack, or incorporate into food to balance protein in meals. Currently I am eating peanut butter on toast and in smoothies; pumpkin seeds in bread dough; and salted peanuts and almonds as a snack.
Stock is definitely on our list of vegan essentials! We use Marigold Vegan Bouillon stock powder to season everything: soups, stews, curry, etc.
10. Biscuits and crackers
We eat a lot of biscuits and crackers as snacks, and consider these vegan essentials. A surprising number of unglamorous biscuits are vegan already: standard supermarket bourbons, ginger nuts, rich tea, Oreos, and fruit shortcake. The same is true of crackers: most oatcakes are vegan, as are cream crackers, ryvita, and water biscuits.
I’d love to hear about you – what are your vegan store cupboard essentials?