Vegan Foods Glossary

Meat Substitutes

Beer brat
Faux meats are increasingly available, both in the number of varieties, and the locations where they’re sold. Today’s mock meats include burgers, franks, sandwich slices, bacon, sausage, chicken-style cutlets and nuggets, ground meat – even jerky! Sample as many brands as you can to find those you like most. Click here for a list of links to popular brands.

Above is a Tofurky Beer Brat, sizzling hot off the grill!

Egg Substitutes

Ener-G Egg Replacer, found in most health food stores, can be used for any baking recipe that calls for a few eggs as a leavening and binding agent (more tips on egg-free baking here).

Amy’s scrambles Breakfast scrambles and mock egg salads, made from crumbled and seasoned tofu, and eggless mayonnaise can be prepared at home or purchased ready-made.

Above are scrambled-egg alternatives by Amy’s Kitchen: a complete tofu scramble breakfast with hash browns and veggies, and a tofu scramble pocket sandwich.

Dairy Substitutes

Nondairy milk and yogurt made from soybeans (photo courtesy of USDA).

Almonds, hemp, oats, potatoes, rice, or soybeans are used to make vegan milks, many of which are fortified with calcium and vitamins D and B12. There are assorted flavors (e.g., chocolate, carob, and vanilla), as well as unsweetened and lower fat varieties. Taste and richness vary widely from brand to brand, so experiment to find your favorite. You’ll find vegan milks in the dairy case, as well as in shelf-stable aseptic packages, which require refrigeration after opening. Although many are delicious to drink straight from the carton, milk alternatives are indispensable for eating cereal and making creamed soups and sauces, milk shakes, frozen desserts, and baked goods. There are vegan creamers available for your coffee, too.

Soy margarine is a great substitute for butter when baking cakes and other desserts. Earth Balance offers a line of buttery spreads (nonhydrogenated and GMO-free) that also taste great on bread.

Other dairy alternatives include soy- and rice-based ice creams and yogurts, tofu sour cream, and an assortment of vegan cheeses. Click here for a list of links to popular brands.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast (not to be confused with other yeasts, such as brewer’s or torula) is grown specifically for its nutritive value. Available as flakes or powder, nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor to all sorts of foods.

Red Star nutritional yeast Red Star’s Vegetarian Support Formula (T6635+) is fortified with vitamin B12 and is an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Available in a 5-ounce shaker bottle or in bulk, Red Star nutritional yeast will keep for 24 months when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight.

The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook contains recipes using Red Star’s Vegetarian Support Formula, as well as helpful cooking tips.


Seitan products Also known as wheat meat, seitan [SAY-tan] is versatile, hearty, and chewy. Seitan is available ready-made (refrigerated or frozen) or as a mix, but it’s also relatively easy to make from scratch. And, given that it keeps well, you can make a lot to have on hand.

Seitan’s main ingredient is vital wheat gluten (also called instant gluten flour), which can generally be found in the baking aisle at larger grocery stores. Be sure not to substitute any other flour – high gluten flour is not the same.

Primal strips

For more on seitan, see this article from VRG. Also, the cookbook Veganomicon has several seitan recipes, including seitan piccata, potpie, and jambalaya.

At right is Primal Strips seitan teriyaki jerky; and above are Harvest Direct Seitan Quick Mix and WestSoy ready-made seitan products. You’ll find links to other products made from wheat gluten here.


Tempeh productsWhole soybeans, sometimes mixed with grains, are fermented to produce tempeh [TEM-pay]. Compared to tofu, tempeh is richer both in absorbable nutrients and in flavor. Plain and flavored varieties are available and can be used in recipes that call for meat, such as stir-fries and vegan sloppy joe sandwiches.

Above: Lightlife, Turtle Island, and WestSoy offer a variety of tempeh products sold at many supermarkets and natural food stores.


Also called bean curd, tofu is produced by coagulating soymilk and pressing the curds. Tofu is not only inexpensive and easy to find, but it’s a great source of protein.


There are two main types of tofu: regular (Chinese style, such as WestSoy) and silken (Japanese style, such as Mori-Nu). Regular tofu typically comes in refrigerated water-packed tubs, while silken tofu is commonly sold in shelf-stable aseptic packages (however, if it doesn’t say “silken,” it is almost certainly the regular variety). Both types are available in soft, firm, and extra firm varieties, as well as lower calorie versions.

Silken tofu’s custard-like texture makes it a wonderful substitute for dairy products. It’s best for dressings, dips, spreads, sauces, shakes, soups, desserts, and baked goods.

Firm or extra-firm regular tofu is used as a meat substitute. It can be stir-fried, baked, broiled, grilled, or stewed.

Tofu’s neutral taste makes it extremely versatile, allowing it to pick up flavors from herbs, spices, and other ingredients. You can marinate tofu before cooking it, or buy ready-to-eat products such as WestSoy’s baked tofu in zesty lemon pepper, Roma tomato basil, Thai sesame peanut, Mexican jalapeno, Asian teriyaki, and Italian garlic herb styles.

See also: Mori-Nu’s tips and recipes; and tofu recipes at VegWeb.


TVP products

Textured vegetable (or soy) protein is made from soy flour that has been cooked under pressure, extruded, and dried. Since the oil has been extracted, it has a long shelf life. TVP is high in protein, iron, calcium, fiber, and zinc. It’s available, flavored and unflavored, in various styles, shapes and sizes, such as ground “beef,” “chicken” cutlets, and “bacon” bits.

Above: Butler Soy Curls, Frontier Bac’Uns, and Bob’s Red Mill TVP.