Vegan recipes have been the subject of many lampoons in both popular media and in American culture. From labeling a particular dish as "anti-vegan" to TV shows that poke fun at characters following a vegan diet, vegans and their food have always been received with mixed opinions.

While plant-based meat is not always vegan or vegetarian, the incredible rise of faux dairy and meat products have been welcomed with equally as polarized views.

While some of the biggest fast-food chains in the US have jumped on the vegan meat bandwagon, eager to capture the blossoming vegan food market, other burger joints have opted for the more controversial route. Arby's, for example, announced on their social media pages that they would offer their "megetable" or "marrot," a vegetable or "carrot" made out of meat, to their customer base.

Needless to say, veganism's reception by mainstream restaurants and by the American public in general, is still an ambiguous mixture of curiosity, disgust, and excitement.

Regardless of what you think about veganism, it is undeniable that the diet's restrictions have enabled vegans around the world to get more creative in the kitchen. Starting to cook vegan can allow you to try recipes from around the world.

From delicious lentil or black bean burgers to chickpea pasta salad - vegan food has allowed for a degree of experimentation that often times traditional diets lack.

While recipes like mushroom ravioli or pickled beans can keep your daily meal prep interesting, people often find themselves at a loss when it comes to the world of vegan baking.

There are people out there who, upon learning that vegan baked goods exist, honestly don't know what those tasty treats can possibly be made of. Desserts without milk, eggs, and butter exist in many different cultures around the world - and for good reason.

There are some estimates of the percentage of lactose-intolerant people in the world to be as high as 70%.

Dairy and dairy products can also be expensive depending on where you live - in some cities, a gallon of milk can cost more than a gallon of gasoline!

Whether you yourself are lactose intolerant, are a vegan, or are simply curious to learn more about how to cook without animal products, here are some tips and tricks on how to cook and bake vegan desserts.

vegan sandwich
Veganism doesn't mean getting rid of your favorite, daily recipes! (Photo credit: Alexandra Golov via Unplash)

Not Familiar with the Vegan Diet?

The history and reasons behind the creation of the vegan diet are diverse and fascinating. In a nutshell, the concept of dairy-free and meatless meals as we know it today is a relatively new concept.

While ingredients like nutritional yeast and curried lentils have been around for dozens of years, meals completely free of animal products weren't popularized until the 20th and 21st centuries.

Some of the reasons people have to go vegan include but are not limited to:

  • Environmental concerns
  • Animal rights
  • Worker exploitation
  • Health issues

Vegan Cooking: Healthy Vegan Treats

Veggie burgers, seitan stir fry and more - cooking up a healthy vegan dinner is made easy with wholesome and delicious ingredients like lentils, butternut squash, tempeh, and chickpeas.

Making healthy vegan desserts, however, can be equally as difficult as making sweets healthy under a standard diet.

With the rise in dairy-free products, finding vegan chocolate, ice cream and cookies has made going vegan more accessible. However, for those looking to cut back on calories, the challenge of avoiding classic desserts has gotten that much harder.

Luckily, making healthy vegan desserts doesn't have to mean sacrificing flavor or sweetness. From amazing vegan protein bars available at supermarkets to simple and affordable recipes - here are some of the desserts you can try at home all under 300 calories.

All the recipes below are available in full on POPSUGAR Fitness.

Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Known as "nice-cream," this ice cream is made by freezing bananas and blending them into an ice-cream like consistency. By adding 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and two sliced bananas, this recipe will yield you one serving packed with 3.6 grams of fiber and 3.2 grams of protein.

Cookie Dough Fudge

If you want to make this nutty, delicious fudge, you'll need:

  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1/3 raw almonds
  • 10 dates, pitted
  • 1 can lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips

After blending the nuts until they have a creamy consistency, add all the other ingredients to make a puree. Pop it in the freezer and enjoy the next day!

Chocolate Hummus

Chocolate hummus sounds like a crazy idea at first. However, once you try this creamy chocolate dip you'll be coming back to this recipe time and time again! Simply puree:

  • almonds
  • pitted dates
  • can of chickpeas
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • real maple syrup
  • vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon
  • vanilla soy milk

If you want to know more about where to shop for vegan ingredients, check out this guide on the basics of buying vegan food!

vegan cooking
If you're love cooking, try taking a vegan cooking class (Photo credit: Hermes Rivera via Unplash)

Cooking for the holidays can get dicey when veganism comes into play. Luckily, converting a vegan meal into a holiday-ready meal that will impress even your most stubborn relatives is made easy with diverse ingredients and spices such as couscous, white bean paste, red lentil pasta, edamame, cumin and more.

Whether it be a vegan lasagna, risotto or empanada, cooking savory veggie-friendly recipes are often a bit easier to master than making desserts. If you want to impress your friends and family for any festive meal, trying out simple vegan recipes can be a great way to start.

Here are some easy desserts you can try at home that will have everyone coming back for seconds!

Chocolate Beet Brownies

Coming from the Unconventional Baker blog, this recipe takes brownies to the next level. Perfect for the holidays and completely vegan, this recipe involves all the traditional ingredients of a brownie recipe with the addition of a cooked beet and the water used for cooking it!

Cheesecake Bites

Coming from the Minimalist Baker blog, a classic for vegan desserts and recipes, you will need:

  • 1 cup packed pitted dates
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 scant cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar or maple syrup

Pureeing the ingredients and popping them in the freezer, these cheesecake bites are delicious and can be combined with toppings such as caramel, blueberries, and peanut butter.

Snickerdoodles

Available on Nora Cooks, a blog dedicated to making vegan recipes simple, affordable and family-friendly, these snickerdoodles have 12 ingredients including a flax egg, vegan butter, cream of tartar, cinnamon and sugar.

How to Bake without Animal Products

From white beans to miso paste - there is a wealth of information online and in books on how to cook easy vegan recipes. From healthy vegan recipes to southern-style vegan dishes, there are tons of free recipes and tips on cooking with brown rice, black beans, soba noodles, beet balls and more!

Whether you decided to go vegan, have some food allergies or are one of the many vegetarians that love trying out vegan recipes, learning how to bake without animal products can often come with a steep learning curve.

While finding meal ideas for dinners or holidays can often be easy, with delicious recipes like tofu scramble or roasted cauliflower - finding dessert recipes for a plant-based diet can be a bit trickier.

Luckily, going vegan has never been easier. With dairy-free products such as vegan cheese or the countless resources you can find online dealing with vegan baking, making desserts without animal products can sometimes be as simple as swapping dairy milk with a non-dairy alternative.

More often than not, however, substituting ingredients in a traditional, non-vegan recipe with vegan-friendly elements can be difficult. Here are some tips you can follow to improve your vegan baking skills

Vegan Food Substitutes in Baking

Baking with vegan ingredients requires a bit of ingenuity. If you want to replace a certain ingredient for any reason, but don't have a vegan version available, here are some easy ways to substitute them.

Eggs

  • flax egg
  • chia seed egg
  • tofu
  • baking soda and vinegar

Milk

  • soy, oat or hemp milk for recipes with acid (lemons, etc.)
  • almond, rice and cashew milk

Butter

  • oil (depending on what you're baking)
  • margarine
  • avocado
  • applesauce

Heavy Cream

  • soy milk and olive oil
  • tofu and soy milk
  • coconut cream
vegan bean bowl
Delicious vegan bowls can be enjoyed by everyone (Photo credit: Brooke Lark via Unplash)

Other Recipes for Vegan Meals

Finding a meal plan that includes vegan dinner recipes can be overwhelming with the number of vegan blogs and recipe books available. While not the complete guide to vegan meal prep, here is a taste of some of the recipes to try at home:

  • Lentil soup or vegetable soup
  • Portobello steak
  • Homemade granola
  • Cauliflower pizza
  • Potato, butternut and tahini salad
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Danica