The different types of vegan lasagna can be divided into two basic categories. One type mimics traditional Italian lasagna by using vegan ingredients that look and taste similar to those used in traditional lasagna. The other type is composed of alternative vegan ingredients assembled in layers to form a lasagna-like dish. Within these two basic categories, there are many possible variations.
Traditional lasagna is a layered casserole composed of wide, flat lasagna noodles, cheese, ground meat and tomato sauce seasoned with garlic and herbs. A vegan diet prohibits the consumption of animal products of any kind, so to make a vegan lasagna that mimics traditional lasagna, it is necessary to use vegan substitutes for the meat and cheese. It also is important to ensure that the noodles and tomato sauce do not contain animal products. Meat substitutes include meat-like soy protein products, wheat gluten, textured vegetable protein or a variety of thinly sliced vegetables. Cheese substitutes include tofu, soy cheese, nutritional yeast and a variety of commercially manufactured cheese-like products.
An alternative vegan lasagna is composed of layered ingredients that don’t necessarily resemble those of a traditional lasagna but are assembled into a lasagna-like casserole. Alternatives to standard lasagna noodles may include buckwheat noodles, thinly sliced vegetables, potatoes, polenta, beans, grains and ground nuts. The same meat and cheese substitutes used in traditional lasagna also can be included.
Within the basic concept of lasagna, there are many variations. The types of meats used might include ground beef, ground lamb, pork sausage and ground turkey. For vegan lasagna, there are many artificially flavored and textured meat substitutes that resemble these meats. A traditional lasagna recipe might call for several types of cheese, especially ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan. For vegan lasagna, there are cheese substitutes that are artificially flavored and textured to closely resemble these types of cheese.
Traditional lasagna recipes often feature additional or alternate ingredients that also fit within the vegan diet. Eggplant, spinach, mushrooms and olives are popular additions to the layers of meat, cheese and noodles in a lasagna casserole. To make a vegan version, the meat and cheese can be omitted or substituted. For a sauce variation, white béchamel sauce made with butter, flour and milk can be used in place of or in addition to the classic tomato sauce. For a vegan white sauce, soy margarine or vegetable oil, flour and rice or soy milk can be used instead.