Choosing to lead a vegan lifestyle doesn't mean foregoing the more enjoyable foods in life - and what could be better than kicking back with a slice of pizza during a casual evening? Veganism and pizza aren't mutually exclusive.

Many toppings and crust options are already cruelty-free. In fact, the biggest hurdle in creating a vegan pizza - replacing the cheese with a kinder food - is a chance to flex your creative muscle in the kitchen.

Easy Classic Vegan Pizza

Start with your favorite crust recipe or pre-bought dairy and egg-free crust. Layer on a tomato sauce - canned is fine, as long as you read the ingredients, as some contain meat or meat flavoring. Next, add on a vegan cheese substitute. Commercially available options made of nuts, tofu or any assortment of other lacto-ovo free options exist, or you can make your own.

For a spot-on taste-mimic of parmesan cheese, grind up 3/4 cup of your favorite nuts, add 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder. Sprinkle liberally on top of your pizza and add any other toppings. Sauteed veggies work well. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is a light, golden brown.

Other Cheese Substitute Ideas

If you're really craving a classic pizza with a mozzarella style "cheese", don't fear. You can accomplish much the same in terms of texture and taste without dairy products. Soak one cup of cashews overnight or until soft. Blend with a quarter cup coconut or other vegan yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, a half cup unsweetened, plain vegan milk, a teaspoon of salt, 2-1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast and 3-4 tablespoons of tapioca starch.

Taste the mixture to ensure it meets your standards. You can add more flavoring from lemon juice, yogurt or salt to enhance the mix. For a more cheesy flavor, add a bit more nutritional yeast.

Pour the mix into a saucepan over low-medium heat and immediately begin whisking as the mix bubbles and thickens. Over the course of four to five minutes, it'll clump and start to form a ball. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and stir it until it looks like the texture of a ball of dairy-based mozzarella. Remove from the heat and use as is - or cool it and freeze the unused portion for up to a month.

Using Other Flavor Profiles

Don't limit yourself to the traditional red sauce, cheese substitute and topping recipe when it comes to making a tasty vegan pizza. One of the beautiful things about vegan cooking is that there are many options that don't 'try" to mimic the non-vegan possibilities.

You have an entire world of flavor profiles to explore, from spicy Thai with a peanut sauce to hearty mushrooms with a lemon garlic sauce to a Tex-Mex inspired guacamole feast. The great thing about pizza making, especially vegan pizza making, is the ability to experiment. Even if it turns out to not be your favorite, it'll probably still end up edible.

Vegan Pizza Options

When it comes to vegan pizza options, there are plenty. Use what you have on hand to create a new favorite or seek out recipes to recreate the pizzas you know you love. Whether you make use of cheese substitutes or seek out wholly new recipes to sample, the sky is the limit when it comes to vegan pizza ideas for discerning foodies.