Veg out this holiday with 10 vegan soul food swaps

Looking to lighten up your holiday? Here are some delicious soul food options you can make vegan with a few substitutions.

If Tabitha Brown and Pinky Cole have taught us anything over the past year or two, it is that you can still enjoy delicious food as a vegan.

One of the biggest misconceptions about being vegan is that you can only eat fruits and vegetables. But as we prepare our holiday tables, there are tons of vegan alternatives you can make from scratch or buy in stores to make variations of the soul food you and your holiday guests grew up loving.

From fried chicken to peach cobbler, here are 10 soul food options you can turn vegan with simple substitutions.

Holiday vegan soul food swaps
Photo: Getty Images


Zucchini Chips

Zucchini has a sweet flavor that is not overbearing, which makes it the perfect blank canvas to work with. All you need for this appetizer is sliced zucchini, your preferred seasonings, vegan breadcrumbs, and a vegan milk substitute. After combining all of the dry ingredients, dip each piece of zucchini in the milk substitute before dredging it in the dry mixture. Bake for five to ten minutes at 475 degrees and enjoy. If you are using an air fryer, cook the zucchini chips for 10 minutes. Zucchini chips are quick to make and can work as either a delicious snack with a vegan dip or an appetizer to munch on before the main course; try this recipe.

Hush puppies

Hush puppies are a staple in southern households. Making this household favorite a vegan treat only requires a few egg and dairy substitutions and less than 30 minutes. By combining an egg replacer, a vegan milk substitute, cornmeal, flour, seasonings, baking powder, sugar, sweet corn, green onions, and jalapeño pepper, vegans can offer an appetizer that satisfies not only their dietary restrictions but also their friends who eat meat. Try this vegan hush puppy recipe.

Main Courses 


This New Orleans specialty is a delicious flavorful meal that fills the soul with comfort. While gumbo is traditionally made with meat and seafood, there are plenty of substitutions available in stores, including Beyond Meat “Chicken” Strips and Tofurky Andouille Sausages. These simple replacements allow vegan Gumbo-lovers to still savor the dish without hesitation. Still dubious? Here is one highly-rated gumbo recipe to try.

Fried Chick’n 

Fried chicken is one of the most popular soul food main courses. There are tons of different ways to replicate its crispy yet tender appeal by using mushrooms, tofu, or a different store-bought alternative, like jackfruit. Just like the real thing, when making any vegan chicken alternative, the most important component is the seasonings. Use seasoning salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and a combination of flours to replicate that crispy and delicious taste; here’s a fried “chicken” recipe to try.


When it comes to making Jambalaya, it is easy to switch out certain ingredients to make a vegan alternative. While the Creole rice dish could be loaded with beans and a meat substitute, the main ingredients are actually the veggies, the sauce, and the rice. This vegan twist to the traditional Louisiana meal is budget-friendly and quick to make—and this jambalaya recipe is sure to please anyone, despite the substitutions.​​

Side Dishes

Mac & Cheese

When it comes to making vegan mac and cheese, the hardest thing to replicate is the cheese. Store-bought vegan cheeses often taste completely different from the real thing, which makes it hard to recreate this soul food side dish without dairy. However, the solution is simpler than you think: make a cheese sauce. Using vegan butter, flour, a milk alternative, seasonings, mustard, and yeast flakes, it is possible to create a comparably “cheesy” mixture to coat the macaroni noodles, as in this recipe recreating the cheesy side dish.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Biscuits are a staple for most soul food meals, and vegan sweet potato biscuits are a flavorful substitution for the household must-have side. All you need is flour, sweet potatoes, baking powder, vegan butter, plant-based milk, and salt, all of which are easy to find at your local store. In less than an hour, you will have a soft, sweet, and flaky dinner roll alternative; see for yourself with this recipe.


If there is one thing that will always be on a soul food plate, it’s cornbread. The vegan alternative keeps that same taste and light and fluffy texture but removes the dairy. The main ingredients that help bring this soul food side dish to life are cornmeal, vegan milk, and flour. With a smear of vegan butter, this dairy-free cornbread recipe pairs perfectly with hot dishes, is quick to make, and is a great vegan alternative that will leave your entire table satisfied.


Sweet Potato Pie

At its core, sweet potato pie is a vegan dessert. The two main ingredients that keep it from being fully vegan are easy to substitute without any effect on its trademark taste; just look for vegan pie crust in the store and substitute canned milk for coconut milk. With these simple replacements and this simple recipe, you can turn a favorite soul food delicacy vegan.

Peach Cobbler

Peach cobbler is regularly one of the most coveted desserts after a great soul food meal. Similar to our switch-up for sweet potato pie, a peach cobbler can become vegan with some quick adjustments. By switching out regular milk for a non-dairy substitute, you can make a delicious vegan dessert in less than an hour; try this recipe, and enjoy!

Kayla Grant
Kayla Grant

Kayla Grant is a multimedia journalist with bylines in Business Insider, Shondaland, Oz Magazine, Prism, Rolling Out and more. She writes about culture, books and entertainment news. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKaylaGrant.

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