The Best Plant-Based Swaps for All Your Favorite Foods

Last Update: March 15, 2024

Vegan and plant-based swaps have come a long way since the rubbery “cheeses” and additive-filled veggie burgers of decades past. Now, you can still eat just about anything you like—whether you’re trying out a plant-based diet when a sudden craving for bacon strikes, or you’re a lifelong vegan looking for a way to get the benefits of collagen without the animal byproducts. 

We’re here to support you as you do healthy your way, so here are some of our favorite vegan and plant-based swaps that are sustainable, nutrient-dense, and just as tasty as their meatier counterparts. 

Best Plant-Based Meats 

Instead of… Grilled chicken breast 
Swap… Daring Plant Chicken Pieces
If it looks like chicken and tastes like chicken, it must be… well, in this case, Daring’s supremely realistic soy-protein based chicken substitute. 

Instead of… Crab cakes 
Swap… Good Catch Plant-Based Crab Cakes 
The same flavor and texture as crab cakes, but none of the crab. Top with your favorite remoulade and a hearty squeeze of lemon juice. 

Instead of… Spaghetti and meatballs 
Swap… Beyond Meatballs Plant-Based Meatballs, Italian
Toss these plant-based meatballs with marinara sauce and hot, steamy pasta for a vegan take on the classic weeknight dinner. 

Instead of… Crispy bacon 
Swap… Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. Maple Bacon Vegan Jerky
For a protein-packed snack or to replace the bacon in your breakfast sandwich, these vegan jerky strips give you the same smoky flavor—sans the meat. 

Best Vegan Cheeses 

Instead of… Grated parmesan
Swap… Thrive Market Vegan Parmesan-Style Cheese Alternative
This coconut oil and nutritional yeast cheese alternative is perfect for grating over pastas, salads, or vegan mac and cheese. 

Instead of… Gooey queso dip 
Swap… Primal Kitchen No Dairy Queso Style Plant Based Dip, Mild
Pureed veggies and a blend of smart spices are surprisingly believable stand-ins for cheese-filled queso dip. 

Best Vegan Pastas 

Instead of… Creamy fettuccine alfredo 
Swap… Primal Kitchen No-Dairy Alfredo Sauce 
Ladle this cashew-based alfredo sauce alternative over a bowl of fettuccine for your next vegan pasta night. 

Instead of… Dairy-based mac and cheese
Swap… Thrive Market Organic Gluten-Free Plant-Based Mac & Cheese
A cheddary plant-based cheese sauce atop gluten-free noodles makes this our pick for best vegan mac and cheese. 

Instead of… Meaty, cheesy lasagna 
Swap… Thrive Market Plant-Based Lasagna with Beyond Meat 
Name a better duo for your vegan lasagna needs: dairy-free mozzarella and Beyond Meat’s “beef” makes for a totally plant-based dinner. 

Best Vegan Coffee Creamers 

Instead of… Traditional creamer
Swap… Nutpods Unsweetened Non-Dairy Creamer, Original 
Consider this vegan version of the no-frills, unsweetened creamer you’d expect to find at any coffee shop. 

Instead of… French vanilla syrup
Swap… Elmhurst Oat Creamer in French Vanilla 
The natural flavor of French vanilla beans and no added emulsifiers makes this a rich, dairy-free way to transform your coffee. 

Instead of… Half & half 
Swap… Califia Farms Better Half Almond Milk Half and Half 
While traditional dairy half and half is equal parts whole milk and cream, this dairy-free version is equal parts coconut cream and almond milk. 

Instead of… A sugary caramel macchiato 
Swap… Califia Farms Almond Milk Coffee Creamer in Caramel Macchiato 
If you love the taste of caramel macchiatos but don’t love the dairy (and all the added sugars), this is your best plant-based bet.  

Best Plant-Based Burgers

Instead of… A traditional, meaty cheeseburger
Swap… Beyond Meat Beyond Burger 
If “realistic” is what you’re after most when it comes to your plant-based burgers, this is the one to choose. According to one reviewer: “Tastes exactly the same as a good range burger — I’ve fooled my meat-eating friends.” 

Instead of… An old-school veggie burger
Swap… Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burger in Black Bean Quinoa 
Veggie burgers from years past have the meat-free bases covered, but they’re often filled with less-than-healthy ingredients like additives, fillers, and binding agents. Not these; instead, they’re made with whole foods like black beans, quinoa, and flavorful spices. 

Best Plant-Based Eggs

Instead of… Eggs in baked goods 
Swap… Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
Instead of looking for vegan recipes for all your favorite baked goods, just swap out the eggs for this vegan pantry essential. 

Instead of… Fried eggs for a breakfast sandwich 
Swap… JUST Plant-Based Folded Egg
Add it to a bagel, biscuit, or English muffin—no chickens required. 

Best Vegan & Plant-Based Supplements

Instead of… Protein powder containing dairy
Swap… Wellmade by Thrive Market Organic Plant Protein in Vanilla 
Made with pea protein and sacha inchi protein and flavored with natural vanilla and monk fruit, this plant-based protein powder brings 21 grams of protein to your water, juice, or morning smoothie.

Instead of… Collagen made from animal byproducts
Swap… Golde Coconut Collagen Boost 
Unlike traditional collagen (which uses animal cartilage and other byproducts to supplement your collagen supply) this vegan collagen supports the body’s own collagen production with hyaluronic acid, biotin, iron, and potassium.  

Instead of… Omegas from fish 
Swap… wellmade Algae Omega’s
These softgels contain full-spectrum, fish-free omega-3 derived from plants and algaes instead of fish.

This article is related to:

Plant-Based, Vegan, Vegetarian

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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