The day you went vegan, you probably made the most responsible choice you’ll ever make. Not only did you refuse to partake in the unethical treatment of animals, but you also took a step towards a healthier heart and away from obesity, diabetes, and various types of cancers. And the bonus? You get to smirk every time your meat-eating friends express awe at your choice. Because there is one secret all vegans know: veganism isn’t as difficult as it is made out to be. Today, a range of mock-meat and faux-poultry products are available in the market, implicating that compromise on taste is rarely an issue.

But what about those of you who love to bake? Does going vegan mean foregoing your passion? Or is your love for baking your apology for not going vegan despite wanting to? After all, eggs and dairy products are a baker’s indispensable ingredients, eh? Think again. Vegan baking is not only possible, but is also easy and effective. All you need to do is substitute a few key ingredients. Here’s how you can get started.


Eggs

Why give up eggs, you ask? The poultry industry is downright abusive. And unless your eggs come from your own chicken bred in your own strictly-for-private-use, non-abusive farm, you are contributing to the abuse. You may want to know these quick facts:

  • Hens are kept cooped up in tiny, restrictive cells at high temperatures meant to alter their egg-producing cycles such that they produce eggs with unnatural frequency. Most do not get to so much as move a wing during their entire lifetime. In some cases, their beaks are chopped off, often without the use of anesthetics, so that they do not peck at their peer in the next cell.
  • Millions of day-old male chicks are killed (usually in a high-speed grinder) every year because they are useless to the egg industry.

How to go about eggless-baking? It’s simpler than you anticipate. First, you need to determine why you need eggs in your recipe: Is it for leavening (to make the end product fluffy and light, like cakes)? Or is it for binding (to make the end product dense and thick, like cookies)? Then, replace each egg in your recipe with whichever of the following best suits you.

For leavening:

Vegan cake

  • 2 tsp. baking soda mixed with 2 tbsp. warm water and ½ tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. baking powder mixed with 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. baker’s yeast dissolved in ¼  cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds mixed with 3 tbsp. water

For binding:

Vegan cookies

  • Ener G Egg Replacer
  • 2 tbsp. corstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. potato starch mixed with 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. instant mashed potatoes

For custards and quiches, replace each egg with ¼ cup pureed soft tofu.

If you need to replace just the egg white, try using 1 tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again, for each egg white.

In a rush? A can of diet soda can be used to replace 2 eggs in many cake recipes. It won’t add any calories either!

Dairy Products

The dairy industry is no more forgiving than the poultry industry. Here’s why:

  • Cows produce milk for the same reason as humans and other mammals do — to nourish their young. But mother cows in the dairy industry have their babies taken away from them shortly after birth, so as to conserve the milk.
  • A cow’s natural lifespan is about 15 years, but cows used by the dairy industry live for a mere four to five years, as a result of abusive confinement and unnatural stimulation to produce milk in greater quantities. Most are slaughtered once they are no longer capable of producing milk in the huge quantities expected.

If it is buttermilk you need to replace in your recipe, combine 1 cup unsweetened soy milk and 2 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar in a bowl, whisk until well blended and creamy, and use in place of 1 cup of buttermilk.

To replace cow’s milk in your recipe, use equal amounts of any of the following:

  • Soy milk (better for rich desserts)
  • Coconut milk (better for rich desserts)
  • Almond milk
  • Rice milk

Be sure to use the unsweetened varieties for baking. Otherwise, your finished product may end up slightly sweeter than anticipated.

To replace butter in your recipe, simply use same amounts of vegan margarine. For baking, use full-fat vegan margarine rather than the lighter varieties. You could try any of the following:

  • Coconut oil
  • Earth Balance Buttery Spread
  • Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
  • Smart Balance Light Original Buttery Spread with Flax

Miss the condensed milk? Here’s how you make a smart replacer:

You will need:

  • 2 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 6 Tbsp. vegan margarine

Here’s what you do:

  • Boil the soy milk in a pan.
  • In a separate pan, melt the vegan margarine; add sugar.
  • When the sugar begins to melt, add the hot soy milk and a dash of salt to the margarine.
  • Boil gently and stir for approximately 5 minutes.

 (Makes 14 oz.)

Vegan cheesecake

I understand that vegan baking make take a wee bit more effort than the egg and dairy based baking you may be used to, but the very fact that you are doing your bit to give back to Mother Nature should keep you going. Kudos!