The Best Vegan Substitutes to Make You Forget About Meat and Dairy

best vegan substitutes

Plant-based food has evolved beyond the dry veggie burgers of yesterday (respect to the trailblazers). Now, instead of just one or two options hidden away in the back corner of the store, we have meaty burgers from a multitude of brands. Pints upon pints of dairy-free ice cream, and 15+ plant-based milk options to choose from. (What a future we live in.) Sometimes it’s hard to know what to add to your shopping cart. Worry not—we’ve got you. Here are our picks for the very best vegan substitutes in every category.

vegan milk substitutes
Almond, soy, hemp milk… take your pick. | Eileen W. Cho for LIVEKINDLY

Plant-based milk

With so many options, milk is probably the easiest thing in your fridge to replace with a plant-based version. Almond, soy, coconut, oat, hemp, AI-generated milk, and even potatoes… The list goes on. (Yes, we’re curious about potato milk, too.) If you’re totally new, don’t be afraid to try a bunch of dairy-free milks until you find one worthy of your morning joe. We recommend oat milk, which is not only sustainable, but also a favorite of baristas. 

vegan cheese substitutes
Take a bite out of these vegan cheese brands. | Eileen W. Cho for LIVEKINDLY

Vegan cheese

Cheese these days doesn’t have to come from cows (or goats, sheep, and buffalo, for that matter). These dairy-free cheeses span slices, shreds, and even aged wheels made using traditional techniques that pair beautifully with wine and crackers. 

vegan butter substitutes
Slather these vegan butters on your morning toast. | Eileen W. Cho for LIVEKINDLY

Dairy-free butter

Whether you like a pat of butter on your morning toast or you’re a baker, there’s dairy-free butter for you. In fact, vegan butter is so mainstream now that even brands like Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter have plant-based versions.

vegan egg substitutes
Vegan eggs, no hens necessary. | Eileen W. Cho for LIVEKINDLY

Vegan eggs

Quintessential to weekend brunch, eggs grace our plates in the form of scrambles, quiches, omelets, frittatas, stratas. If you want to recreate your fave breakfast classics, then give these vegan eggs a try. Some of them can even be used for dishes like French toast and pancakes.

vegan chicken substitutes
Take a bite out of Alpha Foods plant-based chicken nuggets. | Alpha Foods

Vegan chicken nuggets

A hero of easy dinners (or lunch, or breakfast…we’re all for total meal anarchy), chicken nuggets are beloved by many. Thankfully, there are so many vegan options out there now. Pass the ketchup, please.

vegan meat substitutes
Fire up the grill. | Getty

Meat-free burgers

Whether you’re looking for juicy, meat-free burgers that sizzle like beef or you’re team veggie burger, there’s a vegan patty for every palate. The real question is, pickles or no pickles?

vegan bacon substitutes
Vegan bacon by Hooray Foods deserves a spot in your BLT. | Hooray

Vegan bacon

You need something to go with that egg-free scramble. How about a few slices of meat-free bacon? We see a vegan bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich happening in your near future.

best vegan seafood
Hungry Planet Foods’ crab cakes are seafood-free. | Hungry Planet Foods

Vegan seafood

Ever since the documentary Seaspiracy hit Netflix, seafood—and its impact on the planet—has become a hot topic. Luckily, vegan seafood aplenty is hitting the supermarket freezer aisle, and we named our favorite picks.

best vegan ice cream
Cup or cone? | Eileen W. Cho for LIVEKINDLY

Vegan ice cream

Savory food shouldn’t get all the spotlight. Sweet substitutes’ place on this list is well-deserved. Our team knows a thing or two about scoping out the best vegan ice cream. But if dairy-free options are woefully absent from your local scoop shop (sorbet is not a good substitute for ice cream and this is the hill we will die on), check your supermarket for these stellar vegan pints.  

best vegan substitutes
These are the best vegan candy bar substitutes. | Polly Haas for LIVEKINDLY

Vegan candy bars

Missing Snickers, Kit Kats, Milky Ways, and all those classic candy bars? Worry not. There’s a vegan version of practically every bar that used to tempt us with their glossy packaging and sweet promises at the supermarket checkout.