Eating a plant-based diet can often seem intimidating to newcomers who love meat, but want to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. That’s why I love sharing some of my favorite simple tricks for turning a meat-based meal into a veggie-based meal that even the most hardcore meat eaters seem to enjoy. Here are ten of my favorite ways to add plant-based goodness to a meal without an ounce of cruelty or deprivation:
1. Mushroom Marinara
Mushrooms are the perfect replacement for beef in a recipe because they are hearty, dense, and they help bulk up marinara sauce exactly like meat does. I suggest using larger mushrooms in a marinara sauce instead of small button mushrooms to make a denser sauce, but you can use any kind of mushrooms you enjoy. You can also cook mushrooms with a vegan brand of storebought spaghetti sauce and blend them in at the end to make a thicker sauce or you can leave them whole to stand in for meatballs. Not a marinara fan? Here are 30 mushroom recipes to try instead!
2. Lentil Taco Meat
When making your next batch of vegan tacos, use your favorite taco sauce and cook it using prepared lentils instead of meat. While you could technically use any bean, lentils require no soaking and are easier to prepare. Plus, if you’re not a fan of using mushrooms for a meatball stand-in as suggested above, try using lentil meatballs instead. Lentils have a delicious hearty texture that make the perfect replacement for meat in any dish, with tacos being one of the best. Try this lentil taco recipe to get you started!
3. Make Chickpea Burgers
Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) make a great moist and hearty burger I’d suggest anyone try that’s looking for that filling texture meat offers in a traditional burger. Need a recipe? Try The World’s Healthiest Veggie Burger. It’s sure to win you over, guaranteed!
4. Try a TLT
What is a TLT you ask? It’s a vegan version of a BLT, of course! Use tempeh strips in place of bacon and make it exactly like you would your favorite BLT. Just remember to make it completely vegan, you’ll need to use a vegan mayo in place of egg-based mayo.
5. Make a Tofu Stir-Fry
Tofu stir-fry dishes are becoming more and more popular these days with the use of condiments like tamari, coconut oil, soy sauce, and liquid amino seasoning products. Cut firm tofu into strips, pat it dry, and season like you would chicken or beef in any other stir fry recipe. Be sure to add some delicious veggies like zucchini strips, mushrooms, and red peppers for an original zesty flavor! This stir-fried tofu with arrowroot sauce is a great recipe to start with and is one of my personal favorites.
6. Make a Portobella Burger
Another vegan burger option is to use a large portobella mushroom and season it exactly like you would a beef-based burger. Cook it on the grill and use it in place of beef for a filling plant-based burger. To make it 100 percent vegan, opt for vegan cheese and vegan mayo too.
7. Walnut Lasagna
Got a craving for lasagna? No problem! Use 1 cup of crumbled walnuts in place of the meat and use zucchini strips in place of wheat noodles for a healthier, lower carb, and veggie-packed meal that will leave you full and satisfied for hours!
8. Artichoke and Mushroom Pizza
This trick is simple enough – just use mushrooms and artichokes in place of meat on any pizza recipe you like. They both give your pizza the best hearty texture and an awesome flavor with plenty of nutrition to boot! This is my favorite vegan pizza recipe and a total must-make if you’ve never tried using artichokes on pizza before.
9. Nutritional Yeast Nacho Sauce
This sauce is also known as “nooch” among many foodies out there and I must say, it’s a pretty amazing stand-in for nacho cheese. Blend three tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes (which offer a killer cheesy flavor and your daily dose of Vitamin B12) to 1/3 cup plain nondairy milk and season with red pepper flakes, garlic, and onion powder. Blend or stir everything together and serve like you would nacho cheese. You can also add jalapenos or mushrooms for an even better flavor and heartier texture.
There are so many creative ways to turn a meat-based meal into a veggie-based meal that won’t also save the environment and the animals, but also your budget too. Eating plant-based isn’t only environmentally friendly, but it’s also economically smart. Now head off to your kitchen and make your own creative meat-free dish. Then come back here and tell me all about it in the comments!
Image source: Artichoke and Mushroom Pizza