Vegan Cooking For Carnivores

Going Vegan Has Never Been So Easy


Everyone is going to have access to different grocery stores. I have no way of knowing what ingredients and brands you have near you. I am fortunate enough to have a King Soopers (Kroger), a Whole Foods, and a Safeway within a few miles of my home.

How do you know if something is vegan? Look under the list of ingredients; there should be a message that says “Contains: ” and a list of any possible allergens. If milk or egg or anything NOT vegan is listed, then try another brand. If you don’t see anything noteworthy, then you’re good to go. If the label says “MAY CONTAIN”, then you are still more than likely fine, too; this just means that the product was made in the same facility as other dairy/egg/etc. containing products, so people with very sensitive allergies can be aware.

Please don’t just assume that these substitutes are healthy because they are plant based! Some, like Impossible beef, are still highly processed and have nearly as many calories and fat as regular beef (just no cholesterol). So please use these in moderation and mix in some inherently vegan meals with other meals that use these substitutes. You can also substitute in other ingredients for the imitation meats, too; for example, use white beans or tempeh instead of chicken or seitan instead of sausage or beef.

Quick Look


    Lightlife Tempeh Smokey Bacon: while it’s not all that close of a match to bacon, it is still really delicious and does the trick. This is only bacon that I have come across that is actually good.


    Country Crock Plant Butter with Olive or Avocado Oil: tastes and cooks like the real thing. The one thing to watch out for is when using it in baked goods. There is more oil in the fake butter, which tends to weigh down batters/doughs, like brownies or cookies. You will need to up the baking powder a little to counteract this. Other butters are still good, but I personally like Country Crock best.


    Morning Star Farms Chik’N Strips: actually really good! They are coated with a chicken seasoning, too, so don’t rinse them or anything. Plus, these tend to be the more affordable brand. They also make really great chicken patties and chicken nuggets.


    Daiya, Follow Your Heart, or Violife: anything that is NOT cheddar. I have yet to find a cheddar that is actually decent. But the mozzarella, parmesan, gouda, provolone, feta… Everything else has been pretty tasty. One thing to note, however, is that vegan cheese (especially the shredded cheese, for some reason) does NOT melt as readily as regular cheese; you’ll need to cook for a bit longer, throw it under a broiler for a couple minutes, or put in the microwave for a little bit.

    Chocolate Chips

    Enjoy Life: these are mini chocolate chips that taste like the real thing. But you can also use anything that isn’t milk chocolate. Chocolate (cocoa / cacao) itself is vegan; it’s the milk chocolate that is not. Just check below the ingredients to see if it contains milk. To my knowledge, this was the first vegan chocolate chips, but other brands have since introduced their own, such as Tollhouse. Most packages will say “Allergen Free” or something similar (cocoa butter is not dairy, so don’t worry about this ingredient).


    Silk Dairy Free Heavy Whipping Cream: really close to the real thing. I do NOT recommend the Country Crock cream. It has different ingredients and does not mix with butter; it separates and creates layers, which is not what we want. Ever. Those are the only two brands I’ve come across so far.

    Cream Cheese

    Everything! Seriously, I have yet to try a cream cheese that wasn’t very good. Regular, chive and onion, strawberry… It’s all good! The only bad part: when heated, the cream cheeses break down into oils. So we won’t be doing any baking with cream cheese, unfortunately (at least not yet!).

    Ground Beef

    Impossible: it’s just the best out there. Beyond is good, too, but not quite as good. In my opinion, Impossible is a 95% match to real beef. The only difference is the juices of real beef, which is actually where a lot of the cholesterol is. Otherwise, this is pretty much a straight substitute for regular beef in recipes. One annoyance, though, is that the packages come in 3/4 lb. weights (12 oz.) instead of a full pound. You don’t need to worry about being exact in the recipes, just be close enough.

    Ground Sausage

    Impossible: again, it’s just the best one our there. There is both savory and spicy varieties. Beyond is good too if you can’t find Impossible. Similar to the beef, these come in the annoying size of 14 oz. (7/8 lb.! WHY?!?).


    Silk Almond & Cashew Protein Milk or Original Almond Milk: some extra protein is never a bad thing, and it tastes the same as the Original, so why not? The one thing you want to avoid is vanilla or sweetened milks, since those can alter a recipe’s taste (though you can have them for regular drinking or cereal, if you want). There are a lot of vegan milks out there and, in general, I don’t think you can wrong with a nut or soy milk. I personally think oak milk has a distinct taste, so I don’t use it at all.

    Pre-minced Garlic

    Any brand will do. I just VERY HIGHLY recommend having this on hand. A lot of recipes call for garlic, and simply measuring out the right amount will save a LOT of time compared to mincing cloves yourself.

    Salad Dressing

    Simple Truth: this is a Kroger brand. My local King Soopers carries vegan Ranch, Spicy Ranch, and Caesar dressings, and they are all fantastic. But most vinaigrettes will also be vegan (just check to see if they have parmesan or other cheese in them).

    Impossible: just like the other meats, these are just the best I’ve found. Both the bratwurst and spicy Italian are really delicious. Beyond‘s links are still pretty good, too, if that’s all you can find.


    Upton’s Naturals Traditional Seitan Chunks: when prepped, such as in the gyro’s recipe, these don’t taste too far off from actual lamb. This is only brand I can find at my local stores, so don’t hesitate to try another brand if you don’t see this one.

    Sour Cream

    Violife: there is actually quite a variety of Violife products, and they are all pretty good. But they definitely have the best sour cream that I’ve found so far.


    Lightlife: this is actually the only brand that I have available to me, but it tastes great. I imagine most any brand should be fine when this ingredient is needed.

    Tortellini / Ravioli

    Buitoni or Kite Hill: REALLY delicious, but they can also be a bit expensive. I can only find either of these in smaller packages at Whole Foods that, at least for me, only serve 1. So the cost adds up quickly.


    So Delicious: This is the ONLY yogurt brand that I think gets it right. Other brands, in my opinion, are pretty terrible. So if you don’t have access to this brand, just get small packages of other brands to taste-test first. Kite Hill, Silk, Forager… I think they are all terrible.

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