Many people choose to eliminate or cut back on sugar to lose weight or prevent diabetes. Others give up dairy and eggs, a practice popularized by books such as "Skinny Bitch" and "The China Study," which tout the adverse health effects of consuming animal products. Replacing dairy, eggs and sugar in cake recipes is possible by choosing ingredients to take the place of these basic ingredients.
Cow's milk may be replaced in recipes with equal amounts of soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk or rice milk. Most of these options can be found in mainstream grocery stores in their natural foods section. Vegetable margarine, and in some cases olive oil, can be used as a replacement for butter.
For recipes that call for eggs, there are several replacement options. Eggs are often used in baking recipes for leavening or binding. With leavening, the final product will be light and fluffy. One egg can be replaced in recipes with 1/4 cup pureed soft tofu, 1/4 cup apple sauce, one mashed ripe banana, 3 tablespoons of pureed fruit or flaxseeds. If you choose to use flaxseeds as a replacer, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water. For recipes that need to bind and be dense and thick, replace eggs with a cornstarch and water mixture, an egg replacer mix or 2 tablespoons of instant mashed potatoes. Add the egg replacers to the recipe when it calls for an egg.
Artificial sweeteners are already found in a variety of low-calorie foods and beverages. Popular brands and types of sweeteners include aspartame, stevia, saccharine and agave nectar. Sweeteners made from artificial chemicals such as sucralose and aspartame have been the subject of intense scrutiny and debate for years. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently allows them for use, some natural health experts advise people to avoid them. An alternative that has come to light in recent years is stevia, made from an herb and agave nectar, also made from a plant. These will work in cakes as well as sugar.
There are recipe listings online where you can specifically find vegan, sugar-free cakes and avoid having to make substitutions. Most conventional cake recipes will turn out just as well with the suggested replacements. As always, if one substitution does not work for you, try another or alter the portion.