Vegan food products N-Z

Paneer

A soft, white Indian cheese that comes in a block and is usually fried. Although not exactly traditional, tofu works well as an alternative in various recipes, such as saag paneer.

Parmesan

Traditionally-made Parmesan isn't suitable for vegetarians (or vegans) as it contains animal rennet (calves' stomach lining). This is why you might notice seemingly vegetarian dishes in Italian restaurants not labelled as suitable for vegetarians.

There is a dairy-free version of grated parmesan available called Parmazano, which is sold in a lot of supermarkets. Particularly useful for making risotto.

Vegetarian parmesan isn't the same as vegan parmesan - it is still made with milk, it just doesn't contain animal rennet.

Pâté

Vegan pâtés are particularly useful as sandwich fillings or as a vegan alternative to cheese and biscuits/bread. Independent wholefoods shops are the best place to find a good range of ready-made ones. Holland and Barrett sell the varieties of Cauldron pâté which are suitable for vegans, which are Chickpea and black olive and Soya and mushroom (they don't tend to sell the vegan varieties in supermarkets). You could also use ready-made houmous, which comes in a variety of flavours and is readily available in supermarkets, or make your own houmous with tinned chickpeas.

Alternatively, pâtés are usually quick and easy (and cheap) to make - there are many vegan recipes out there for pâté made with mashed beans or vegetables and herbs if you fancy making your own.

If you're making sandwiches, make sure the margarine is also vegan if you're using any.

Pesto

Pesto usually contains parmesan and other cheeses, so isn't suitable for vegans (and often vegetarians - see above). Sacla's aubergine pesto is suitable for vegans, but other than that I've never found a vegan pesto in supermarket Italian sections, although they often stock vegan pesto in the free from section. Otherwise it's a trip to a wholefoods shop to find some. Suma make nice vegan green and red pesto. Some stir-through pasta sauces are suitable for vegans, which can be an alternative to pesto depending on what you're using it for.

Pies

Linda McCartney country pies are suitable for vegans (find them in the freezers in the supermarket) - very handy for pie and pea suppers - or see if your local wholefoods shop sells Clive's Pies. Most are vegan and they also do a range of gluten-free pies.

Sausages

Not generally intended to be identical to meat sausages. Useful for taking to barbecues and using in sausage casserole, sausage and mash, cooked breakfast...

Vegan brands: Redwood's VegeDeli range, Linda McCartney, RealEat, Fry's, Taifun, some but not all Wicken Fen varieties.

Ones to avoid - vegetarian but not vegan brands: Quorn, Cauldron, most supermarket vegetarian sausages.

Sausage rolls

Fry's and Linda McCartney sausage rolls are suitable for vegans. Or make your own - dead easy!

Stuffed pasta

Stuffed pasta was one of my favourite foods before I went vegan, so I was very pleased to learn that you can buy vegan versions of it. The ones I've found in the UK are in the Biona range of products. Mail order from Goodness Direct, or some independent shops stock it.

Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies and isn't suitable for vegans or vegetarians. Vegan worcestershire sauce is available in wholefoods shops or in supermarket 'free from' sections. If you're anywhere near Sheffield, get your hands on some Henderson's Relish instead.

Yoghurt

Alpro is the main brand to look for, they make fruit-flavoured and plain yoghurts. Commonly available in the dairy products section of large supermarkets. Alpro also make soya desserts, which are similar to yoghurt but don't need to be kept in the fridge.