4 easy swaps to make your favorite dishes vegan


(BPT) - If you're experimenting with going vegan, you've got good timing. Even just a decade ago, it was difficult to find meat- and dairy-free options in restaurants and in the grocery store, let alone tasty vegan recipes to make at home. But now, it has never been easier to focus on plant-based eating. Grocery stores are filled with vegan products — plant-based yogurt, like Icelandic Provisions Oatmilk Skyr, and even meat substitutes like burgers and chicken. Many restaurants offer vegan menu items, denoted with a green V. Vegan cookbooks are on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Still, it seems like a huge dietary change to make. Do you have to overhaul everything?

The good news is, the answer to that is no. In fact, experts like those at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health say that, while a vegan diet can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, blood cholesterol and diabetes, it's best not to go all in, all at once. It can feel overwhelming, difficult and restrictive, so much so that you might just abandon the effort.

A great way to start small is to swap out some ingredients in your favorite meals to make them vegan, without the fuss.

Here are some easy swaps to make some of your favorite dishes vegan.

Oatmilk skyr for regular yogurt. Not familiar with skyr? It's like yogurt, but creamier, thicker, higher in protein and usually lower in sugar. It's a staple for many Nordic peoples, but because it's traditionally made from milk, vegans haven't had that option. Icelandic Provisions solves that dilemma, by using thousand-year-old heirloom Icelandic cultures adapted to perform in a vegan environment to create Icelandic Provisions Oatmilk Skyr. Take a single-serve cup on the go or use it just like you would milk-based skyr or yogurt — a bowl with berries and granola starts the day off right.

Chickpeas for tuna or chicken in salad sandwiches for wraps. This clever trick will transform your lunches, and it's so easy to do. Start with a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and lightly mash so they're still chunky. Then dress it up the same way you would a tuna or chicken salad sandwich — diced celery and onion, a dash of parsley or dill, and vegan mayo or plain oatmilk skyr for the base. Spread it on bread and add lettuce, tomato, avocado or whatever your taste buds fancy!

Lentils for beef or pork in spaghetti sauces. Many people find they can't even tell the difference when they sub lentils for ground meat in sauces. Here's the trick: Cook the lentils bolognese-style, with a vegan twist. Start by sauteing onion and garlic. Add your lentils, and then pour enough oat or soy milk to just cover the lentils and let that boil down. Then, add white wine, and boil that down, too. While the wine is reducing, add Italian spices. Last, add your tomato sauce and paste and simmer. Bonus tip: You can twist this recipe for tacos, too, by using Mexican spices. Top with plain oatmilk skyr, a great replacement for sour cream, and cilantro.

Oatmilk skyr, bananas or applesauce for eggs in baking. You can get all the moisture with none of the dairy by subbing oatmilk skyr, bananas or applesauce for eggs in your favorite baking recipes. Here's what you need to know: One-fourth cup of oatmilk skyr or applesauce equals one egg. For bananas, one-half cup of mashed banana equals one egg. Give it a try! You'll be surprised how delicious it is.

Going vegan, a little at a time, is an easy way to lighten up your diet. By swapping vegan ingredients for meat or dairy in your favorite dishes, you won't miss a thing!