A Beginner's Guide to the Best Healthy Vegan Food Replacements For Meat, Fish, and Dairy

POPSUGAR Photography | Sarah Wasilak
POPSUGAR Photography | Sarah Wasilak

Everyone has their own experience going vegan, which I've learned from joining a few different Facebook groups and sharing my journey with the rest of the vegan community. But there should be a few commonalities, such as the compelling reasons for wanting to make the switch to plant-based foods. Watching documentaries such as What the Health and especially Game Changers (being that I'm an athlete) helped me realize that the health benefits far outweighed the bliss I enjoyed after taking a bite of the finest Gruyere and even my beloved go-to salmon dish with crispy skin.

If you can't already tell, I had always been a major meat, fish, and dairy lover. Before going vegan, I ate at least one cup of Greek yogurt every single day and my protein portion size at dinner (which usually rotated between chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, or steak) was sizable in comparison to the carbs on my plate. Maybe not the veggies — and that's because I have always been committed to eating healthy — but coming to terms with the fact that plants are actually way healthier and can be just as nutrient dense as animal protein took a lot of time and processing for me.

In the back of my mind, I always knew that the decision I was making to buy and eat meat was harmful to the environment, and especially to animals, but I felt like that food was my fuel for hour-long workouts at least six days a week (I run, cycle, swim, strength train, and practice yoga). Little did I know, I would feel just as charged, if not more energized, for my daily gym routine eating nuts, seeds, whole grains, and plant-based foods and — this is the best part! — there are delicious tasting replacements for all of the meat, fish, and dairy I'd be giving up. (You better believe I found an almond-based "yogurt" that tastes just like that Total 2% Faje I never thought I could completely omit.)

Ahead, my guide to the best-tasting vegan foods that have successfully replaced a specific animal product in my old diet. Trust me, I've tried just about every brand out there at this point — you won't regret investing in these companies specifically, and I'll be updating this list as I find more gems, so drop me a line if you think there's something I'm missing.

Harmless Harvest Dairy-Free Coconut Yogurt Alternative

It replaced my: Total 2% Greek yogurt or Stonyfield plain yogurt.
How I eat it: Mixed with Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter with fruit, nuts, and seeds or granola.
Where to find it: Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh

Arctic Zero Ice Cream

It replaced my: Ben & Jerry's froyo.
How I eat it: With semi-sweet dark chocolate chips or carob chunks and/or the Coco Whip below (wink, wink!).
Where to find it: Ice Cream Source, Amazon Fresh

So Delicious Cocowhip Whipped Topping

It replaced my: Cool Whip that I'd add to all my ice cream sundaes.
How I eat it: With mashed frozen banana and almond milk purée (my makeshift ice cream!) or with my Arctic Zero pints.
Where to find it: The So Delicious Online Scoop Shop, Whole Foods, Shop Rite, Kings

Trader Joe's Dips

It replaced my: Ranch or tzatziki.
How I eat it: With chips or dolloped atop a salad.
Where to find it: Trader Joe's


It replaced my: Eggs! There are a few different versions (you can use the scramble to create omelettes), but trust me, the folded egg tastes the best.
How I eat it: Throw it under the broiler for a minute or two to get it crispy and make an "egg" sandwich.
Where to find it: Amazon, Acme, Kings, Gregorys Coffee

Miyoko's Mozzarella Cheese

It replaced my: Fresh, homemade mozzarella.
How I eat it: This is the only mozzarella I've found that is delicious enough on its own (and not too salty!) to use in a Caprese salad with fresh tomatoes and basil.
Where to find it: ShopRite, Target, Whole Foods

Miyoko's Cheddar Cheese

It replaced my: "Grilled cheese" style cheddar.
How I eat it: Between two slices of toasted bread — this is by far the best cheddar I've tried so far. I'd melt this over any of the shreds I've tried any day.
Where to find it: ShopRite, Target, Whole Foods

Violife Feta Cheese

It replaced my: Athenos crumbled feta.
How I eat it: Broken up over a salad.
Where to find it: ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Kings

Violife Parmesan Cheese

It replaced my: Freshly-shaved parmesan bought by the wedge.
How I eat it: Sliced over crackers or grated over my spaghetti squash "bolognese."
Where to find it: ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, Kings

Nancy's Oatmilk Yogurt

It replaced my: Dannon coffee or banana yogurt for when I want something flavored.
How I eat it: As is or with a handful of mixed nuts blended in.
Where to find it: Whole Foods

Upton's Naturals Jackfruit

It replaced my: Pulled pork.
How I eat it: With some homemade BBQ sauce (search for a quick recipe on Pinterest) in a taco or bun.
Where to find it: Target, Whole Foods, and other local food markets

Pure Farmland Breakfast Patties

It replaced my: Morning sausage patties.
How I eat it: With a toasted bagel and "cheeze."
Where to find it: Acme, ShopRite, Stop & Shop

Trader Joe's Tempeh

It replaced my: Tougher meats, such as grilled chicken strips, that I'd typically mix in a salad.
How I eat it: Coated in arrowroot starch, nutritional yeast, spices, and coconut aminos, crisped up in the air fryer over salad or linguini.
Where to find it: Trader Joe's

House Foods Tofu

It replaced my: Ground beef or turkey, when crumbled.
How I eat it: I either use starch or cornmeal to coat for crispy tofu in the air fryer (for firmer blocks) to mix into salads or noodles, or crumble into "meat" crumbles for a bolognese or taco meat with all the right spices (for softer blocks).
Where to find it: ShopRite, Acme, Morton Williams

Daiya Vegan Dressing

It replaced my: Dressings that were made with eggs, such as Caesar, or yogurt-based dressings such as Bolthouse Farms.
How I eat it: On salads, duh!
Where to find it: Target, ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Acme, Whole Foods, Morton Williams

Quorn Meatless Buffalo Dippers

It replaced my: Buffalo wings.
How I eat it: As a snack with celery and Daiya vegan ranch.
Where to find it: Whole Foods

Beyond Meat Plant-Based Patties

It replaced my: Turkey burgers (which I usually preferred to beef).
How I eat it: On a bun with mustard or over a salad for a bun-less meal.
Where to find it: Fresh Direct, Amazon, Peapod, and most local grocery stores

Strong Roots Cauliflower Hash Browns

It replaced my: Hash browns (which are generally made with cheese and butter) or mashed potatoes.
How I eat it: They are the perfect side with my BBQ jackfruit dish. Don't knock the "burgers" — especially the beetroot one, which tastes like a spinach cake!
Where to find it: Whole Foods, Morton Williams

Chloe's Oatmilk Pops

It replaced my: Outshine creamy coconut fruit bars.
How I eat it: For dessert!
Where to find it: Amazon Fresh, Fresh Direct, Peapod, Acme, CVS, Kings

Táche Pistachio Milk

It replaced my: Regular milk I'd use with cereal or a smoothie.
How I eat it: Even though I use this pistachio milk in smoothies and overnight oats, I could also drink it plain, it's so delicious.
Where to find it: Straight from the website, or at select stores

Planet Oat Creamer

It replaced my: Delight or Coffee Mate flavored creamers.
How I eat it: Blended into my coffee with a touch of stevia or cinnamon over ice.
Where to find it: Acme, Target, Kings, ShopRite, Stop & Shop, CVS

Gardein Meatless Meatballs

It replaced my: Meatballs from scratch over homemade gravy, made by my SO's Italian mom — yeah, this was a tough replacement. I tried a lot of vegan "meatballs," and these come in first for me.
How I eat it: With Rao's marinara over pasta.
Where to find it: Walmart, Target, Amazon Fresh, Instacart, ShopRite, Whole Foods


It replaced my: Chicken nuggets! These are by far the best vegan nuggets, and they get crispy if you throw them in the air fryer. Hot tip: they come in spicy too!
How I eat it: With sweet potato fries.
Where to find it: On the NUGGS website, where you can buy frozen packages of 50 or 100 NUGGS

Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Crab Cakes

It replaced my: Salmon, actual crab cakes, and breaded tilapia filets.
How I eat it: With cauliflower rice and hot sauce or homemade cocktail sauce.
Where to find it: ShopRite, Wegmans, Walmart, Stop & Shop

Scout & Cellar Vegan Wine

It replaced my: Standard, non-researched wine. The fact is, most wines are vegan, but an explicitly vegan wine promises to be fined using natural substances instead of animal derived substances.
How I eat it: with whatever vegan replacement the website suggests! All Scout & Cellar wines offer pairings for your meals and you can read details about where they were sourced. (For example, if the wine is best paired with fish, I thaw my Sophie's filets!)
Where to find it: Scout & Cellar's website, where you can order from anywhere in the US to be shipped from Texas.

Rao's Homemade Marinara

It replaced my: Basic meat-flavored jarred sauces such as Barilla, Bertolli, and Botticelli.
How I eat it: My go-to dish lately has been Rao's over spaghetti squash "bolognese," which is made with crumbled and sautéed tofu.
Where to find it: Any local grocery store — just make sure you're buying the marinara or other vegan approved flavors.

Enlightened Bada Bean Bada Boom

It replaced my: Bacon bits in salads, which I used to add religiously. I live for the crunch!
How I eat it: In salads or by the mini bag as a tasty, sustaining snack. If you like Snyder's Honey Mustard and Onion pretzel pieces, the Sweet Onion & Mustard flavor is for you.
Where to find it: ShopRite, Duane Reade, Morton Williams, 7 Eleven

Blake's Seed-Based Treats

It replaced my: Rice Krispie treats (which include margarine, butter, and marshmallows).
How I eat it: As a midday snack, sometimes with a tall glass of Taché pistachio milk over ice.
Where to find it: Wegmans, 7 Eleven

Every Body Eat Cheese-Less Thins

It replaced my: Cheez-Its and Cheddar Goldfish.
How I eat it: Dipped in salsas and broken up over salads.
Where to find it: Online at Every Body Eat, Amazon, and Whole Foods

Raised Gluten Free Vegan Quiche

It replaced my: Homemade egg-based quiche that I used to make weekly as a side dish with zucchini and squash.
How I eat it: Crisped in the oven as a side, or for breakfast!
Where to find it: At your local Kroger, plus select natural food stores