Cornbread, fried chicken, and greens plated on a white plate on a wicker table.
Source: Getty Images

Vegan-Approved Comfort Food: Reimagining Classic Soul Food Dishes With a Plant-Based Twist

Looking to elevate your favorite vegan soul food dishes? Using plant-based products is a great way to amp up flavor without sacrificing taste!


Apr. 5 2024, Published 9:49 a.m. ET

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Soul food can be healthy, too – believe it or not. With its history and flavor, soul food holds a special place in the hearts of many as a celebration of tradition, community, and resilience.

In recent years, the popularity of plant-based substitutes has risen. A new wave of vegan and vegetarian soul food recipes has emerged, offering a fresh and compassionate twist on classic favorites.

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“Vegan soul food means a healthy slant on the traditional southern meal,” Chef Babette told Black Vegan Rocks. Babette has joined a long line of Black chefs who place an emphasis on health without sacrificing flavor.

For those looking to switch up the ingredients in their favorite meals, a variety of plant-based dairy products can be easily incorporated into traditional soul food recipes.

Vegan Macaroni and "Cheese"

vegan mac n cheese
Source: Getty Images

Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese shot as a group on cutting board.

Creamy, cheesy, and completely dairy-free, vegan macaroni and cheese is a soulful dish that will delight vegans and non-vegans alike. This Blacks Going Vegan recipe substitutes dairy products for vegan-friendly options.

Instead of using milk or heavy cream, you can use plant-based dairy products like vegan cheese!

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Vegan Southern Fried "Chicken"

plant based chicken nuggets
Source: Getty Images

Person holds a half-bitten plant-based chicken nugget.

With the rise of plant-based meat alternatives, vegan versions of classic southern fried chicken are easier than ever to recreate at home. This recipe, shared by Black Foodie, uses common grocery store items that can be found at most retailers. Oyster mushrooms are used in place of chicken, and almond milk can be used to create the wet frying batter.

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Vegan Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

vegan maple cheddar biscuits
Source: Make It Dairy Free

Vegan cheddar biscuits sprinkled with scallions are placed on a wooden table.

The husband-and-wife duo behind Make It Dairy Free has created a vegan cheddar biscuit that can be made in any kitchen.

One of the hallmarks of a classic biscuit is its light and airy texture, and vegan versions are no exception. You can combine plant-based milk, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice to mimic the tangy flavor of buttermilk, along with vegan butter or coconut oil for richness. Serve them warm with a drizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of vegan butter.

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Vegan Banana Pudding

bananas are displayed for sale in the fresh produce area of a sprouts farmers
Source: Getty Images

Bananas are displayed for sale in the fresh produce area of a Sprouts Farmers.

This vegan banana pudding recipe will hit the spot. Shared by Black Peoples Recipes, the dish swaps dairy products for alternative options. The recipe calls for milk and other dairy products, but that’s where plant-based products come in. If you’re not a fan of almond milk, opt for oat milk, soymilk, or coconut milk – which can all be used to make vegan banana pudding.

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Vegan Sweet Potato Pie

sweet potatoes also called yams lie on display at the green week
Source: Getty Images

Sweet potatoes, also called yams, lie on display at the Green Week.

No soul food meal is complete without a slice of sweet potato pie, and this vegan version is just as good as your grandma's. It can be made with coconut milk, mashed sweet potatoes, and warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Serve it with a dollop of coconut whipped cream or vegan ice cream for the perfect finishing touch.

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