Veggie-based jerky, chocolate "milk," and gluten-free toaster pastries that still taste indulgent? Yes, please.
If you’re one of those people who never daydreams about nachos, ice cream, or pork rinds, well, good for you. The rest of us are left to search for the healthiest substitutes to our favorite indulgences. Luckily, there’s a whole veggie-based world of takes on not-so-healthy snacks.
What’s even better is that they taste great. In fact, if you didn’t know better, you’d probably think these plant-based iterations of your favorite snacks were the real deal.
Rau Drinking Chocolate
Made with single-origin, fair-trade cocoa beans and either coconut oil or cocoa butter (for added creaminess), the final product of this drinking chocolate goes down smooth. Best of all, cacao is packed with antioxidants and vitamins, so it’s a great option as a post-exercise recovery drink.
If you thought deep-fried pig skin was as good as a snack could get, we have news for you. Snacklins—the vegan version made from mostly yucca and mushrooms—are even better. For one, you can eat guilt-free knowing no pigs were hurt in the process. And two, you won’t feel your arteries clogging with every bite. You can choose from flavors like Old Bay, barbecue spice, or soy and ginger. Just beware: You might polish off an entire bag in one sitting.
SorBabes Nut Butter Sorbets
If you’ve had ice cream made with soy or almond milk, you know it’s usually not at all like the real stuff. What makes ice cream creamy is, well, the cream. But soy and almond milk lack fat, so you never get that thick, indulgent texture. Nicole Cardone and Deborah Gorman, founders of SorBabes, created a workaround using whipped nut butter—which has plenty of fat—as a base. The result is a treat that actually tastes like one.
May Wah Vegetarian Jerky
For you vegetarians who still want the perfect trail snack, May Wah, a New York–based vegetarian grocery market, ships its jerky nationwide. The vegetable-and-soy-based jerky comes in all the flavors you might expect—teriyaki, hot and spicy, black pepper—plus some flavors you might not expect, like bacon or squid. The texture is relatively close to real jerky, and maybe a little better, since it’s not quite as leathery.
Punk Rawk Labs Cashew Cheese
Finally, a company that makes vegan cheese your nonvegan friends won’t criticize you about. Founded by three women—a scientist, a record store owner, and a nutritionist—Punk Rawk Labs has created tasty cheeses from organic nut milk in a range of flavors, like a smoky cashew nut that tastes like gouda, a melty nacho cheese, and even one that’s flavored with earthy mushrooms.
A lot of snacks, from simple toast to cookies and brownies, begin with a tasty foundation of butter. But a vegan butter that bakes well and tastes good? That can be hard to come by. Fora uses coconut oil as its fat source and incorporates aquafaba (that liquid you pour off a can of chickpeas) for a more interesting taste and texture. Several high-profile chefs, like Brad Farmerie and Ravi DeRossi, have sung the brand’s praises in recent months. It’s still hard to find, so if it’s not sold where you live, here’s how you can make your own.
Bobo’s Toast’r Pastries
A few Pop-Tarts flavors are vegan, but you have to read the labels carefully. That’s not a problem with toaster pastries from Boulder-based Bobo’s. The entire line is vegan and gluten-free, and all the ingredients are recognizable. The brand’s four flavors include strawberry, blueberry lemon poppy seed, chocolate almond butter, and chocolate peanut butter. That last one had us asking for seconds.