Fortunately, there are a lot of tasty ways to satisfy these cravings, many of which have the added bonus of being healthier than the "original" versions. So today I want to share my personal top five vegan substitutes for non-vegan foods:
1) Yves Deli Salami - This starts the list because it was one of the first "fake meats" I tried after going vegetarian. When I was a kid, I wasn't much for lunch meat, but I adored salami. I still do, but I remember the taste of the spices as being the draw of it rather than the meat, so Yves brand slices are a perfect substitute. They don't have the strange, rubbery texture of some other vegan "meats" I've tried, and of course they lack the nasty patina of grease that always seems to linger on real lunch meat. A few slices on some whole-grain bread with tomato, lettuce, and a little mustard, and former salami eaters will be good to go!
2) Almond milk - A few months ago, this would have been soy milk but, after trying almond milk, I'm not sure I could go back. While soy milk has its merits, I've found almond milk to be lighter in both texture and flavor, making it great for cooking, baking, and dumping all over my favorite cereals. So far I've been using Blue Diamond unsweetened, either in original or vanilla, and both are amazing. I'll continue to use soy milk when I feel it's warranted, but as a default non-dairy milk, I'm sticking with almond.
3) VeganRella cheese - My search for a decent pre-made "cheese" ended with VeganRella. After being disappointed by varieties that either hid tiny bits of milk protein in them to aid melting or just plain didn't melt at all, I discovered VeganRella at my local co-op. They carry both cheddar and mozzarella flavors, and both stand up to the challenge of imitating dairy cheese without being disgusting. VeganRella is smooth and creamy. It grates well and melts well without having any casein hidden in it and without feeling greasy. If you miss cheese like I do, this brand is definitely the way to go.
4) Sunshine Burgers - I've tried a lot of veggie burgers since going vegetarian, and it was hard enough then to find something that tasted good enough to want to eat over and over again. Going vegan made it that much harder--so many varieties use either cheese or eggs as a binding agent! But Sunshine Burgers are different. They're made with seeds and nuts, and so are held together with natural oils. They come in several varieties, but my favorites are Garden Herb and Southwestern. These burgers brown nicely without needing any oil in the pan, and are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats. Plus they're great with a variety of garnishes!
5) Sweet Nothings fudge bars - I know very few people who don't like chocolate, and I am definitely not among them. I have always been a sucker for a good chocolate bar, truffle, cookie, cake, and, of course, ice cream. And nothing says "being a kid in summer" like fudgecicles. So what's a vegan to do when blindsided by a craving for creamy, cold chocolate on a stick? Enter Sweet Nothings fudge bars. The local co-op carries them individually and in boxes of six, and they are the perfect solution for a restless sweet tooth. Plus they're fruit-sweetened, making them a light treat for a summer afternoon. (Or, you know, any time you're dying for something fudgey.)
It's hard to miss non-vegan food when so many great alternatives exist! Of course, this list is tiny in comparison to the huge variety of choices that are out there, but thus far these are some of the best I've found.
Question for the comments: What's your favorite veganized non-vegan food item?