How to Easily Veganise Your Kids’ Favourite Recipes

Veganism is moving mainstream!

Where it once dwindled on the sidelines as an extreme form of vegetarianism that most people didn’t really understand – you’d now be hard-pressed to find a café or restaurant in the UK WITHOUT any vegan options.

With the popularity of ‘Veganuary’ and many choosing to continue this diet and way of living for many more months of the year – demand is soaring for vegan produce, for reasons of health, lifestyle choice and sustainability.

Switching to a vegan diet, however, can take some adjusting! Unlike the switch to becoming a vegetarian, becoming a vegan includes the removal of more than just meat…ANY animal products are a no-go, including dairy, eggs, leather and even honey.

Of course, you may be considering vegan alternatives due to allergies if, like me, your baby or child is allergic to cow's milk or eggs and you are breastfeeding. Making sure that you replace the fats and calcium lost from dairy produce is key when switching to vegan foods in a child’s diet.

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Vegan Friendly Alternatives to Popular Ingredients

Cow's Milk

Replace cow's milk with oat milk. This is the closest option I have found for tea/coffee which doesn’t change the taste. Always make sure that the oat milk you choose is fortified with calcium to help your child get enough. Oatly Barista is often considered the best alternative to whole milk.

There are also plenty of other milk alternatives if your little one can't digest oats, or just doesn't like it! These include: soya milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk and rice milk

Butter

There are lots of plant-based spreads available such as Vitalite or supermarket-own brand olive spread or sunflower spread. My absolute favourite dupe is the ‘I can’t believe its not butter’ spread for the closest ‘butter tasting’ vegan alternative. If you are baking, then Stork does vegan blocks specifically for biscuits and also cakes.

Milk Chocolate

Finding vegan alternatives to milk chocolate is incredibly easy, as so many big brands (including Cadbury and Galaxy) have brought out plant-based versions of their best-selling bars - plus brands such as NOMO are widely available, and taste just like the cow's milk alternative. Many supermarkets even do their own plant-based milk chocolate now too!

Alternatively, you can switch to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate over 70% tends to be milk free and it also contains less sugar, so it is a healthier alternative too. But, make sure you check the packaging, as not all dark chocolate is dairy-free! Bars that were previously vegan favourites, such as Bournville, have recently undergone recipe changes and now contain whey (the bane of every vegan's life!).

Eggs

You can buy egg replacement powders to mix with water from most supermarkets, but these tend to be very expensive. Cheaper alternatives are readily available though such as aquafaba (this is just chickpea water! If you buy your chickpeas canned, save the water in the can as it's a super flexible binder, and can be used in a variety of ways), chia seeds or flax seeds.

Yoghurt

Nush yoghurts are a favourite at our house, and they are almond-based. Oatly also does a lovely strawberry yoghurt, which is oat-based, and Petit Filous have their own vegan range too. My children go mad for these yoghurts and I can confirm that most of them taste just as good, if not better than their dairy counterparts.

These branded yoghurts can be quite expensive though, so look for own brand supermarket plant-based yoghurts - these taste just as good, and are easier on the wallet!

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Vegan Alternatives to Popular Children’s Meals

Lasagna

The easiest way to make a healthy, vegan lasagna is to switch the beef/pork mince for plant-based meat OR make a vegetable-based lasagna instead. The cheese sauce can be made into a white sauce instead, using oat milk, flour and some salt and mustard to season. Always make sure your lasagna sheets are egg-free.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Again, choose an egg-free pasta first. Switch the bacon lardons for a plant-based meat alternative and mix this with finely chopped fried onion, Oatly cream or Oatly crème fraiche and seasoning all cooked together in a frying pan. Mix in the spaghetti and voila.

Macaroni Cheese

Blend steamed carrots, vegan cream cheese, garlic and onion powder to make a tasty cheese sauce alternative (you can also add in extra veg such as avocado or cooked sweet potato) and mix in with your egg-free pasta of choice.

Birthday Cake

Our absolute favourite go to foe easy dairy-free cake is the Betty Crocker cake mixes as they are foolproof and taste amazing!

I either switch out the egg for an egg replacement powder OR (you won’t believe this hack) just mix the cake mix powder with a can of Coke or Pepsi…that’s it! The air bubbles help to work in a similar way to using eggs! It is an amazing alternative and something we’ve tried recently ourselves using the air fryer too!

Of course, sometimes you just want to reach for the snacks rather than cook from scratch.

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