If you’re currently omnivorous—that is, you eat red meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy in addition to fruits and veggies—going vegan can seem like a scary proposition. Even if you’re currently a vegetarian (no meat, poultry, or seafood, but you do eat dairy), cutting out all dairy products can feel a little overwhelming. It may help you initially to find ways to substitute your favorite meals for similar vegan meals to avoid feeling like “something is missing.” With the advent of amazingly tasty and authentic-tasting meat substitutes (“fake meats”) made from soy and pea proteins, it is easy to produce a delicious and satisfying veggie burger, “chicken” scaloppini, “beef” tips, and many other meals that typically rely heavily on meat. The best meat substitutes are chock full of protein, so you won’t be missing a thing in terms of dietary requirements, or in flavor and texture.
First off, congratulations are in order for even considering veganism—it’s a challenging but ultimately very satisfying, compassionate, and rewarding lifestyle choice. Not only will you get to experience the benefits of a purely plant-based diet in terms of quality of health and wellness, but you’ll be able to sleep a little easier knowing that a total of zero animals were harmed in the making of your daily meals. You will be amazed at how different you will soon act and feel as a result of removing animal products from your diet.
With some proper planning and a little research, you can learn to easily incorporate meat substitutes into your diet to replace your old favorites. In just a short amount of time, you might surprise yourself by completely forgetting you used to use actual meat in your meals. In fact, many vegetarians and vegans learn to quickly prefer the taste of meat substitutes to the “real” thing.
Popular Dishes Made Vegan
Concerned you’re going to miss your favorite dishes too much to fully switch to a vegan diet? Worry not. There are numerous websites and other resources out there that specialize in “veganizing” favorite meal options. These chefs use extremely creative, inventive methods of meal preparation to accurately reproduce the look, taste, and texture of meat-based meals without using any animal products whatsoever. The end results have been known to fool even the most diehard of carnivores! You can typically grill, bake, or sauté meatless meats just as simply as you can with real meats. A few of the many dishes that can be made vegan include:
- Hamburgers (veggie burgers): Simply replace regular ground beef for meat-free crumbles and make your burger as you normally would. If you’re missing the cheese, consider whipping up some caramelized onions or melted dairy-free cheese to include overtop.
- “Turkey” with stuffing and (meatless) gravy: Available pre-prepared, just heat and eat!
- “Chicken” Caesar salad: Swap the chicken for delicious grilled “chicken” strips that look, feel, and taste remarkably like real chicken—then use a vegan Caesar dressing to top it off.
- Tangy Asian “beef” tips:If you’re craving Chinese food, you can dress up your “beef” with some vegan orange sauce or teriyaki sauce to recreate your Asian food favorites.
- Chili: Whether you prefer “beef” chili or “chicken” chili—or both—it is easy to recreate your favorite chili using meatless meat. Simply prepare it as you normally would—no special effort is really required.
- Lasagna: Utilizing a mixture of meatless ground “beef,” dairy-free “mozzarella cheese,” and almond-based “ricotta cheese,” you can recreate this classic comfort food with amazing results!
- “Chicken” Stir-fry: Tossing a handful of “chicken” strips into a wok with a bunch of vegetables (and tofu, if desired) is the perfect way to get your protein and your daily greens all in one meal.
Meal Planning Resources
Going vegan can be made much easier by planning your meals a little bit ahead of time. If you normally prepare all of your own foods, this should be a somewhat easy adjustment. If you don’t, take the opportunity to really get a feel for cooking with meatless meats by trying out a few simple recipes. There is an ever-increasing amount of vegan recipe blogs and websites to help assist you in making essentially any meal you desire, but without the meat and dairy ingredients. Not only will you surprise yourself by creating some fabulous dishes, but you’re also likely to be impressed by just how much these “fake” meats look and taste like the real thing—without any of the unpleasantness associated with real meat.