Photo by Clare Barboza
It’s 2021. By now a plant-based diet is no longer an enigma rumored to consist of only fruits and veggies. Nutritious meat alternatives can be found on grocery store shelves across the country with burgers, sausages, bacon, eggs, ground meat and more all having their own plant-based substitutes. The availability of options has made veganism an increasingly popular lifestyle. According to a recent survey, only 4% of Americans identify as vegan or vegetarian but a majority say they are willing to try eating more plant-based meat alternatives.
Even if you’re not interested in committing to a plant-based diet full-time, there’s plenty of research suggesting that going meat- and dairy-free a few times a week has a plethora of health and environmental benefits. If this is an option you’ve been considering but you’re not sure where to start, these easy recipes will take some of the mental labor out of switching to a vegan diet or, if you’re already vegan, adding some new meals to your repertoire without all the fuss.
Tempeh — made from boiled, fermented soybeans — is packed with probiotics, essential vitamins and minerals. It tastes nutty and earthy and can be used in a variety of plant-based recipes, as it’s a great source of protein. This recipe takes inspiration from McDonalds’ Lenten favorite Filet-o-Fish but it calls for frying the tempeh and lathering sesame buns with vegan homemade tartar sauce instead of using whitefish and mayo.
Mapo tofu is a popular spicy Chinese comfort food. It frequently comes with minced meat, but this recipe sticks to tofu served over a bed of rice with green onions, lemon, soy sauce, chile crisp and soybeans. It’s the perfect dish to make when you want takeout but are trying to save some money.
Chicken wings are a crowd pleaser at any get together, but they’re far from vegetarian or pescatarian, let alone vegan-friendly. This recipe changes that. Just marinate tofu in Buffalo sauce for one hour and then coat it in a blend of spices, bake and serve. Dip the “wings” in vegan ranch dressing.
Take inspiration from around the world when cooking plant-based. This rich, spicy Mexican-inspired potato and bean mole can be served in a burrito with lettuce, peppers, guacamole and onion or simply over a bed of rice.
Who said you can't have hot dogs when you’re eating vegan? Skip grocery store sausages and make your own faux dogs with nutritious ingredients like red lentils, chopped onion and grated carrots.
One of the most difficult substitutions to find when going plant-based is cheese. Although vegan cheese doesn’t melt as well as the real thing, it’s still delicious. Try it on this BBQ veggie pizza that uses cauliflower in place of chicken.
It may sound odd, but when combined, cooked vegetables, cashews, nondairy milk, nutritional yeast, salt and lemon juice make a great plant-based version of a silky “cheese” sauce. Use it to coat your pasta in for a childhood classic dinner, re-imagined.
Blanching tempeh allows it to soak up seasonings and sauces to its full potential. For this teriyaki tempeh recipe, the fermented food is marinated in soy sauce, maple syrup, brown sugar and rice vinegar, channeling classic Japanese flavors. Serve it alongside rice and broccolini for a healthy meal that’s way better than your average stir fry.
This popular Chinese dish is easy to replicate at home. To make it vegan, this recipe swaps the oyster sauce for soy sauce and fresh garlic. Use oyster mushrooms to give the gai lan, also known as Chinese broccoli, an earthy flavor.
Although beets are often utilized during colder months, their beautiful pop of color lends itself well to spring and summer meals too. This vegan recipe uses the root vegetable to make a light and vitamin-packed soup that can be served at room temperature or chilled, like a gazpacho, for those warmer days.
This fragrant and vibrantly colored curry sauce will make any plant-based protein shine. Serve it with lentil meatballs as seen in the photo or any other meat free option you fancy. No matter what you pair it with, the silky sauce is a must-have.
Many curry dishes, like this sweet potato and spinach curry, are naturally vegan. This hearty and bright meal will be your new favorite comfort food. Make sure you have all of the spices and seasonings before getting started — they really make the curry shine.
Vegan ribs...seriously. In this recipe, tempeh is cooked in a blend of BBQ sauce, red wine vinegar, fennel seeds and salt and then cut into strips. The tempeh is then broiled until golden brown and served with vegan creamed corn and slaw. This is the perfect dish to serve when you’re craving barbecue.
Tempeh’s firm structure makes it easy to mold into patties. You can turn it into burgers or sausage patties, like you’ll be doing in this recipe. Serve it in a breakfast sandwich with vegan cheese and an egg substitute like Just Egg.
Turn chickpeas into a burger by putting them into a food processor with cooked sweet potatoes and oats. Mold the mixture into patties and then cook them on the grill until golden brown. Top the “burgers” with grilled corn to sweeten the dish up.
Tofu puffs go by a few different names, like bean curd puffs, soy puffs or tofu pouches. You can usually find them in any Asian market, and they make a great addition to any vegan dish. In this recipe, they’re cooked in a homemade kung pao sauce.
Rice vermicelli, or rice noodles, are thin noodles that are made from rice flour and water. In this recipe, rice vermicelli is cooked in a wok with a blend of veggies, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil. The one pan dinner is easy to make and a cinch to clean up.
Cinnamon rolls are one of those truly iconic breakfast foods; they’re fluffy, sweet, filling and just all around delicious. This vegan take on the dessert isn’t really all that different from making the treat with dairy. Just use vegan butter and nondairy milk.
In this recipe, oat flour, coconut, tahini, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt are used to replicate the flavor of cookie dough. The mixture is rolled into balls with chopped cherries, dipped in dark chocolate and frozen for a quick sweet bite.
If you’re craving sweets but don’t feel like making something too involved, these three ingredient truffles are the perfect option. Maple syrup, chocolate and coconut cream are mixed together in a pot over high heat and then frozen for a few hours. Once chilled, you’ll have a perfectly moldable mixture that you can scoop and roll into truffle-sized balls.
This plant-based dessert is so easy to make, you just need to give it time to freeze properly. The center of the treat is a heavenly combo of frozen tart cherries, coconut, cashews and chia seeds. These recipes are a great way to get started if you’re interested in going plant-based, but if you need time to ease into things, check out some of our best vegetarian dinner recipes as well.
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