I consider myself an ovo-lacto vegetarian since I see no problem using animal products like milk, eggs, and honey.  That being said, I do want to use only products from animals that are treated decently and raised in an ecologically sound manner.  I buy eggs from a neighbor who raises chickens, so I know how the animals are treated and how "green" they are.  Dairy products are another matter.  I don't know anyone with a cow :).  I have used Smart Balance products but noticed that they contain a small amount of whey.  Is there a good vegan "butter" on the market that anyone would recommend?

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I have some lactose intolerance myself but can tolerate a bit of cheese or milk. I haven't even tried imitation bacon because of what others like yourself have said.
My lactase production ceased when I contracted Giardia many years ago living in South America. It's been shown that when the intestine is 'stressed' by disease, that the cells regress to their 'essential' functions, and lactase production in adults is not an essential function.

But it took my stupid doctor and enterologist team 2 entire years of stool tests to figure out what I had. Blows my mind.

Its the reason I first quit being vegetarian, because most 'public' vegetarian offerings include cheap cheese or milk (in lieu of cream) in recipes...

I can eat only aged cheeses (not the fake Kraft faked old cheese flavour), and high fat dairy (true camembert, brie, true whipping cream, true sour cream, true ice cream), which are very rare. I can't touch "light" dairy cuz they all have added skim milk powder, which is basically pure lactoserum! If buttermilk and yogurt sold on the shelves were the real thing I could ingest those with no problem, except that the chit sold in stores are also imitation flavoured manufactured products which all contain added lactoserum (or its equivalents). I try to stay away from the manufactured aisles as much as possible... they are too depressing.
Earth Balance.. NON HYDROGENATED, NON GMO and VEGAN.. Need I say more, and yes, it works as a butter replacement.  I made cookies with it that won first place in a baking contest and no one knew they were vegan until I told them.
I rarely crave butter (maybe once every three years), so this isn't a huge issue for me.

I use mainly olive, safflower, canola, sunflower, sesame, chili, and peanut oil when I want to replace butter. I tend to use olive oil on things like toast and pasta. I use the canola, sunflower, and safflower oil on things like roasted corn. I love chili oil on garlic toast and Thai dishes. I use the sesame oil with garbanzo beans and certain Asian finger foods, and the peanut oil with sweet breads.

I am not happy about it, but my daughter does eat real organic butter. She was vegan for a while, but her father threatened to take her away from me if she couldn't sustain a nutritious diet. Unfortunately, she is an extremely picky eater and has Celiac Disease, so her choices were already somewhat limited. She could not sustain a balanced diet when she was vegan, so I reintroduced egg and milk products so that she would be eating enough and her dad would leave us alone.

She actually prefers the Organic Earth Balance spread to the real butter, but I still have the dairy butter around if she wants it. She doesn't mind substituting the oil sometimes, but she prefers the spread.

I think if you really want a decent vegan butter that is good for you and the environment, you might consider trying to make your own out of cashew butter or the like. You'd need something with a fairly neutral flavor. If you could figure out such a recipe, please share it with the rest of us. :-)
some people here have an aversion to the word margarine wink wink :)
I don't know why in the US people seem to prefer the word spread (I've noticed this through living there the past 10 years), to me spread is ANYTHING spreadable, whereas margarine is the generic term for any/all vegetable oils that were hydrogenated to look like butter. There was a big money war over this many years ago in Quebec. Margarine manufacturers would colour their stuff and shape it to look like butter then charge more money for it!!! The ploy didn't work for too long. Margarine is dirt cheap to manufacture and should not even be close to the price of butter. So the government jumped in there and said margarine manufacturers weren't allowed to use the same colour as butter and they weren't allowed to try and dupe people into thinking they were getting 'butter'. That was a good thing, it put margarine manufacturers in their place. humph!

To me spread is just a marketing term that companies use to push their artificial products onto people and trying to make the margarine sound a little more uppity...

Anyway, yes, I think short of using hydrogenated vegetable oil to spread on bread the next best option is nut 'spreads' :)

Myself I don't eat anything that's hydrogenated, especially not canola which is at the forefront of genetic manipulations like soy and corn. I do real butter and/or organic nutty 'spreads'. I don't understand why you'd want 'neutral flavour', isn't that the joy of cashew is to taste the cashew? Cashew are sooo good, they're my favourite nut :)
I understand what you mean about cashews. I love cashew butter, although my favorite nut butter is almond. YUMMMM!

I know that there are a lot of people out there who want the buttery flavor of real butter in a vegan recipe, which is why I suggested using something with a neutral flavor. That way they can mess around with the flavor to approximate butter as best they can.

I'm not sure exactly when I started saying spread instead of margarine. I grew up in my grandma's house where she preferred margarine to butter, and the word was used on a daily basis. I think it may have started about twenty years ago when my mother started purchasing what she called "spreads" regularly. Honestly, I don't even think about when I use the word, spread, instead of margarine. It must just be habit.
yeah nomenclature's a funny thing, varies across cultures and loses it's meaning! My mom was Julia Child fan so there was very little margarine that made it into our home, butter was the main deal.

Butter marketing in Quebec was very strong in the 70s-80s, the line was PARCEQUE DU BEURRE C'EST DU BEURRE. "cuz only butter is butter" this was in response to the onslaught of margarine onto the market back then. It was also to encourage local economies, to protect ourselves from the onslaught of "made in the USA products". It worked.

I wish we grew our own cashews in Canada... sigh :)

I have been using Earth Balance and I like it a lot, but I have heard (but not checked into personally) that Blue Bonnet Light Margarine is in fact vegan and I would imagine that is WAY cheaper than Earth Balance so once I am through this container I will probably check out the Blue Bonnet. I do not use a ton of butter/margarine so it isn't a huge deal to spend the extra $2 but it would be nice to find something cheaper.

I am with whoever it was that said they use a lot of oils instead of butter. For cooking/sauteing it works very well and usually has a better flavor! Hope that helps! 

Ester,

Blue Bonnet Light is vegan, but it is hydrogenated and has a lot of additives that I prefer to stay away from. If that doesn't bother you, then you can safely buy BBL.  It is vegan.

Smart balance makes one vegan margarine that I like. It's organic and whipped. They had or have another vegan one that is made with a lot of flax. This one didn't taste as good and I couldn't cook with it very well.

 

The whipped Smart Balance is very similar to how the original Earth Balance is, which makes sense if they are owned by the same company. If you're concerned about taste and how the product performs, I've found nothing closer to real butter than these two items. I think they taste better than the real thing, actually. They bake just as well and they pan fry almost as well as regular butter. You can even make great frosting with them. If anyone has tried to use margarine for frosting, you know that's a big deal.

 

I also like that the oils used are expeller pressed. That's probably why they taste good.

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