Depending on the kind of food or cuisine you eat, you might or might not need vegan substitutes for animal products. Here are a few simple subs you can use.
Milk: It is generally easy to substitute dairy milk in a recipe. Use almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, other nut milks etc measure for measure. Depending on the use, some subs will work better than the others. Cashew milk thickens easily to make creamy sauces, almond and soy milks are quite neutral.
Buttermilk: Add 1 tsp vinegar for 1 cup of almond or soy milk. Whisk well, let it sit for a few minutes to curdle and use.
Eggs: Depends on where you use are substituting eggs. Use flax seed meal or chia seed meal egg equivalent in baking. Other subs that can be used in baking are silken tofu, commercial egg replacers, non dairy yogurt, mashed bananas and aquafaba. Aquafaba (chickpea brine or liquid from a can of chickpeas) or cornstarch slurry is a great substitute as egg wash.
As a binder in burger patties or veggie loafs, depending on what the mixture needs, use dry bread crumbs, oats, or wet flax egg or other wet egg subs. For scrambles, use tofu. For omelets, use chickpea flour. for a detailed guide to egg subs, see here.
Cheese: There are several vegan cheeses on the market in all kinds of forms. The usual cheddar, mozzarella in shreds, slice or blocks or artisan cheeses. Tofu can be a great sub as ricotta or other similar cheeses. For cheesy flavor in sauces or other recipes to make your own cheese, use nutritional yeast.
Ghee: In some recipes you can use melted vegan butter as a substitute. For recipes where ghee is used at high temperature for tempering spices, use high smoke point oils such as organic safflower, sunflower, or canola.
Yogurt: There are several non dairy yogurt brands on the market that use coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk to make cultured yogurts, in many flavors, plain or with fruit. You can make yogurt at home too. Thicken the non dairy milk a little with some starch or agar, add a non dairy culture or probiotics and let it sit in a warm place for 6 to 8 hours. The process is almost the same as dairy yogurt. You can find the detail recipe and the process in my cookbook.
You can sometimes use blended silken tofu + lemon as a substitute. In my recipes, I prefer to use real non dairy yogurt as the taste and texture really are not available in other subs as tofu or cashew cream.
Cream: Use cashew cream or coconut cream.
Whipped Cream: Use whipped coconut cream from store or whip your own using chilled coconut cream (the thick cream that settles on the top of a full fat coconut milk can when chilled).
Sour Cream and Cream Cheese: Tofu or cashews can be used to make sour cream and cream cheese. Or use any of the many store brands.
Mayonnaise: Tofu and cashews make a great mayo as well or use one of the many brands.
Stock: Use water, veggie broth or vegetable bouillon cubes.
Gelatin: Use agar powder or flakes or fruit pectin.
Sugar: Refined sugar might be refined using bone char. The easiest option is to use unrefined or raw sugar or beet sugar, fructose, organic sugar, unbleached cane sugar, turbinado sugar, date sugar, maple crystals etc, or confirm with the brand about their refining methods. Here are some bone char free US sugar companies.
For powdered/confectioners sugar, I usually powder my own using a little cornstarch. Or use the above brands.
Chocolate. Chocolate you would think will be vegan, but often it has dairy ingredients. Look for vegan labels on the chocolate, chips, bars, chunks. There are exclusively vegan chocolate brands that also use fair trade ingredients. Most of the brands alose offer palm oil free vegan chocolate. Or make your own using cocoa butter and cocoa powder + vanilla + sweetener of choice.
Meats: There are several vegan analogues of many meats, chicken, pork and beef in various forms on the market. Several cookbooks also have recipes to make your own.
Ice Cream: There are many many vegan ice cream brands on the market now with many flavors and forms of ice cream based on nut milk, soy, rice, hemp or mix of milks. Or Make your own at home with non dairy milks of choice.
Palm oil: even though palm oil comes from a plant, the demand and cultivation is linked with destruction of rain forests, and mass killing of orangutans. Look for sustainable sources or use other oils.
Dietary Vegans consume only plant based food and eliminate animals(meat, chicken, fish) and all animals products(dairy, milk, cheese, yogurt, ghee, butter, eggs, gelatin etc) from their diet.
Veganism is about being a Compassionate person. It is the practice of eliminating the use of animal products for any purpose including diet, daily use like fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or cleaning or chemical products made of or tested on animals. A vegan is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet.
My Vegan journey and frequently asked questions with answers here . My why vegan series covering health, environmental, ethical and other perspectives on my other blog here.
There are several vegan facebook groups based on region, city, preference (gluten-free, raw etc). Use facebook search to connect with other similar minded people.
PPK Forum http://forum.theppk.com/
Vegan Food Collection Sites
Information and Resources
Go Vegan Now http://www.govegannow.com/
Vegan outreach http://www.veganoutreach.org/
Vegan Starter Kit http://vegankit.com/
Guide to Vegan Living, How to Go Vegan http://www.guidetoveganliving.org.uk/