Easy vegan meals for beginners: Beginner Vegan and Vegetarian Meal Ideas:
Vegetarians and vegans face many of the same problems as omnivores when it comes to cooking healthy meals for their families. Many of us struggle to find ways to sneak in more healthy ingredients like vegetables, and rely less on convenience food while preparing good food that our families like.
What is a Meatless Meal?
Eating meatless meals is about more than just removing the meat. New vegetarians need to be careful about including other foods that will supply the nutrients they previously got from meat.
Contrary to popular belief, protein is easy to get in a vegetarian diet. Tofu, tempeh, beans, wheat gluten, meat substitutes, dairy and soy products, nuts, seeds, and eggs are all good sources of protein. Eating a variety of different foods – over the course of a day, and longer-term – is one way to ensure your family gets all the nutrients it needs.
For meat-eaters, an easy dinner might consist of grilled meat, vegetables, potatoes and salad. But what can herbivores do?
Homemade meals are best to make sure no animal ingredients sneak in to the recipes.
Meat substitutes like faux beef strips, vegetarian soy crumbles and faux chicken breasts can help make easy meals, especially when transitioning from an omnivorous to a vegetarian diet. But these products are processed. Most have vitamins and minerals added to make them nutritionally similar to meat. You should strive to get these nutrients from whole foods as much as possible; foods like whole grains and vegetables also contain fibre and valuable phytonutrients, like antioxidants.
Stock the pantry with healthy staple foods: whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice are good starters), beans, and fresh (or canned or frozen) vegetables. Then add homemade or store-bought sauces and condiments to save time. Think of meals you make now that could easily be made vegetarian.
Here are some healthy vegetarian and vegan meal ideas that are easy to make and ready in less than an hour.
Vegan meals are marked with an asterisk.
- *Scrambled tofu with meatless bacon
- *Cereal with soy milk or other non-dairy milk
- *Oatmeal topped with berries, nuts and soy milk
- *Oatmeal made with apple cider (Link)
- *Smoothie made with non-dairy milk (link)
- *Pancakes made using powdered egg substitute, oil/vegan margarine, and non-dairy milk
- Scrambled eggs with meatless bacon or smoked tofu
- *Smoked tofu BLT (Layer smoked tofu with tomato, lettuce and vegan mayo)
- *Vegetarian hot dogs and beans (canned in tomato sauce)
- *Roasted vegetable sandwich layered with hummus/bean spread
- *Hummus and/or bean spread with vegetable and mini-pita dippers
- *Big salad with nuts, seeds, marinated or fresh vegetables and vegan omega-3 dressing
- *Hearty soup made with vegetable broth (French onion, minestrone, lentil or black bean) or vegan store-bought soup
- Leftovers (especially chili, pasta, or a favourite stew)
- Grilled cheese sandwich
- Wrap or tortilla with any of the above fillings
- Quesadillas (try cheese and refried beans folded in a tortilla and fried)
- Vegetarian pâté with artisan bread
- Antipasto platter
- *Spaghetti with tomato sauce and soy crumbles
- *Tofu or vegetable stir-fry with store-bought vegetarian sauce
- *Homemade chop suey or chow mein
- *Chili with extra beans or soy crumbles
- Indian dishes (Aloo gobi, bhartha, dal, channa masala, black lentils, etc. Many Indian dishes are vegetarian).
- *Roasted marinated tempeh slices with vegetables, potatoes and rice
- *Tacos or burritos
- *Tempeh or tofu cutlets
- *Store-bought faux chicken cutlets
- *Bean burritos, tacos or enchiladas
- *Veggie burgers
- *Vegetarian meatloaf or meatballs with tomato sauce
- Pizza with vegetarian toppings
- Eggplant parmesan
- Ravioli (cheese)
- Pierogis (potato, cheese and onion)
- Vegetarian nachos
Most desserts are vegetarian, with a few exceptions:
- Pie crusts made from lard
- Gelatin in Jell-o type desserts, mousses, yogurts and molds
Most dessert recipes do contain eggs, milk, and/or butter, excluding them for vegans. Here are some vegan dessert and snack ideas:
- *Cookies made with vegan powdered egg replacer, vegan margarine and soy milk (most recipes can be adapated)
- *Baked apples
- *Maple fruit dip (made from soft silken tofu blended with maple syrup and spices)
- *Chocolate fruit dip or mousse
- *Pudding prepared from scratch with soy milk
- *Vegan trifle