*Ok, being previously vegan/vegetarian, I feel should add that vegan alternatives are fine by me (I'm not like a 'butter-purist'), and sometimes its even preferred (I still cook vegan food a lot). My favourite butter substitute has always been Earth Balance, probably because it was the first one I ever found/used, but you can make them too, or omit them/substitute other ingredients for butter. But "margarine" is not vegan, and I'm so against it I could puke.
Going along with that, when I say to 'make something vegan--replace the butter with Earth Balance,' that just means any butter substitute, but often, you don't even need to. Butter, I've found (with the food I've made) is indicative of French or other European influence (but nowhere as much as France), and even in recipes that require dairy based substances in Indian cooking, Sri Lankan cooking does without (we don't even use ghee that often!).
So as long as you're vegan, count out a lot of hearty (I just realized I've been spelling that 'hardy'--as in the Hardy Boys, and need to fix that) French/peasant/Provencal food. Hopefully, if you're vegan (or even vegetarian) you are not nearly as interested in that (i.e. soufflé and croissants) as you are in clean, delicious Japanese soup-broths laden with deep-green vegetables and tofu.