Meat, Dairy and Egg Substitutes Reviewed

As vegetarianism continues to make its way into the mainstream, many companies are entering the meat, dairy and egg substitutes markets to satisfy the growing demand for animal product alternatives. Read these reviews of the best substitutes out there that will make the transition to vegetarianism as painless as possible.

For plain meat-free burgers, vegetarians may choose Boca's Original meatless burgers or Morningstar Farms' Grillers veggie burgers. For veggie burgers with more flavor, Boca and Morningstar Farms offer flavored varieties such as Boca's Grilled Vegetable, Roasted Garlic and Roasted Onion burgers or Morningstar Farms' Mushroom Lover's, Philly Cheese Steak and Spicy Black Bean veggie burgers.

Boca and Morningstar Farms also sell other meat alternatives. Boca's other products include meatless ground burger, pizza and Chik'n Nuggets. Morningstar Farms also carries meatless corn dogs, Veggie Breakfast Bacon Strips and meatless buffalo wings.

Several companies offer cheese alternatives. Note to vegans: many cheese products advertised as "soy cheese" or "lactose-free" often contain an ingredient called casein, which is derived from milk but is not lactose. Those who wish to avoid dairy products of all kinds should be sure to read ingredient labels and be aware of casein.

For truly dairy-free grated parmesan cheese, Vegan brand is a good option. Vegan brand also offers cheese slices in mozzarella and American flavors. These slices are great when used cold in sandwiches. Vegan cheese, however, is typically not great for melting.

But there is one dairy-free cheese brand that melts extremely well and is delicious: Follow Your Heart brand cheese. This cheese comes in mozzarella, cheddar, nacho and monterey jack varieties. It can be used in anything from pizza to cheese fries to tacos and quesadillas.

For egg substitutes in baked goods, many health food stores sell powdered Ener-G Egg Replacer that can be mixed with warm water to use in place of eggs in baked goods. If Ener-G Egg Replacer is not available, 1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 3 tablespoons water can be used as a substitute for one egg in baked goods.

For a scrambled egg alternative or an egg salad alternative, tofu is a great option. For scrambled tofu, break up a block of tofu and add turmeric, salt and pepper to taste, along with sauteed veggies like onions, garlic and sundried tomatoes.

For a tofu mock egg salad, mix a broken up block of tofu with 1/3 cup Vegenaise (a mayonaise substitute also made by Follow Your Heart brand) and 1 tablespoon of mustard. Add to this celery, green onions, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

For those who forego dairy, there are many alternatives to cow's milk. Silk sells an organic soymilk that can be drank alone or put in cereal or "Silkshakes". Silk also sells a delicious chocolate soymilk beverage. For a creamier chocolate soy milk, though, you may opt for the 8th Continent brand soy milk.

For those who do not enjoy the taste of soy milk, most grocery stores sell rice milk, which is a lighter beverage than soy milk, or almond milk, which has a pleasant, nutty taste.

Finally, vegans and those who avoid dairy can enjoy dairy-free ice cream that tastes just like the real thing. The most accessible non-dairy ice creams are Tofutti brand and Soy Delicious brand. Some grocery stores also supply rice ice cream.

Being vegetarian or vegan is a lot easier today because of these meat, dairy and egg alternatives. Luckily, most of the above mentioned brands are available in most grocery stores. If you cannot find a product that you want, though, be sure to talk to grocery store managers, who in most cases will be happy to order products for customers.

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About The Author, Michael Russell
Michael Russell
Your Independent Vegetarian guide.