Vegan meals: planning, advice, recipes, struggles, etc

I’ve noticed veganism comes up often on lines and it’s a topic I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. Specifically for me it’s the transition from a long-standing no meat diet with occasional dairy/eggs to a vegan diet.

I noticed there is a cooking thread, but couldn’t find anything specific to vegan meals so I thought it would be nice to have a friendly place dedicated to sharing favorite meals/recipes, advice on meal planning (especially with children/family), constructive tips for people wanting change, favorite cookbooks, day to day stories/struggles, pleasant or unpleasant surprises, asking questions, and anything else related to the topic.

If it’s important to state reasons why you made the choice to change your diet/lifestyle I would like to hear about that here as well, but hoping that’s possible while keeping the main focus on the topic of food/meal aspect.

12 Likes

For one source, I’ve never gone wrong with the vegan recipes by Minimalist Baker. I’ve been vegan for 17 years and cook most every meal I eat, but I can’t claim to be the most inventive in the kitchen. Nor can I speak to cooking for families or children because it’s always been just me and a partner (or not). Anything outside of that I can probably add 2¢ to.

6 Likes

Fried carrots with sweet pepper and onion. Super easy, cheap and fast to make. Add salt, black pepper and (if it’s your thing) curry powder. Can be served also with a bowl of rice.

1 Like

Second the minimalist baker recommendation! We make the roasted jalapeno queso all the time.

And on that note - nutritional yeast is your friend!

3 Likes

This book is excellent…delicious recipes for various kitchen staples.

EDIT: i have not made everything in this book, so no guarantees lol. Apologies if it turns out gross for you!

4 Likes

!Nooch cult eternal!

4 Likes

I mentioned Isa Chandra Moskowitz in the 2020 thread, so here’s a few of her recipes I’ve really enjoyed as an omnivore cooking for my vegan partner:

Porcini-Crusted Tofu with Shallot Gravy
Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings
Rosemary Chocolate Cookies (these are ridiculously good)
Tamale Shepherds Pie (I probably have made this one the most frequently- really nice and easy weekday meal)

7 Likes

I always point people to Vegan Richa for recipes – always delicious and usually pretty simple in terms of number of ingredients and prep.

I’ve never been very good at planning all the meals in a week, so I try to keep a good supply of ingredients with a long shelf life and combine those with whatever fresh produce looks good that week. I keep a variety of dried beans/lentils/etc. on hand at any time: chickpeas, red and green lentils, and blackeyed peas are all favorites. (The hard part with beans is remembering to soak them in time for dinner, which is probably why I lean heavily on lentils.) Bulk spices. Better Than Bouillon veggie broth base, miso paste, chipotles in adobo – all keep well for a while in the fridge.

Tahini is great. With lemon juice, water, salt & pepper, it makes a really good salad dressing. And if you have chickpeas and a food processor, making hummus isn’t much more complicated (side tip: throw some of that adobo sauce in your hummus).

I like all the Field Roast sausages. There’s also some amazing tofu out there – Heiwa is really great, though I’m not sure how available their stuff is outside the Northeastern US.

edit: apple cider vinegar! Good in almost anything, but especially sauteed greens.

4 Likes

Getting a Vitamix felt like a ridiculous investment when I did it, but I use it at least once a day and it’s become indispensable. Anything is possible with that blender and a handful of cashews.

Edit - and a pressure cooker for beans!

4 Likes

For breakfast I love and highly reccomend soaked oats / overnight oats.
The night before, put oats in a bowl with oat milk until they float, and place it in the fridge. They’re ready to eat in the morning with whatever toppings you like. My favourites are coconut sugar, frozen raspberries, cashew butter, coco powder, banana, nuts, ground flax seed mixes etc. It’s supposed to be very healthy as you don’t lose nutrients in the oats through heating them.
I like Tree of life Jumbo oats as they have the best chewy texture. Use porridge oats if you like mushy textures.

3 Likes

I’ve been vegan for 10 years and I love cooking. Favorite cook book is The Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, not just because it has excellent recipes, but also the whole front portion is dedicated to talking about individual ingredients, how to cook them different ways, and what other things they pair well with, so it’s actually teaching you how to cook instead of just giving you a bunch of instructions to blindly follow. The recipes themselves are pretty involved though, more for special occasions than everyday cooking.

Here’s a random tip: Egg replacers! Corn starch and water can work alright for a lot of things in a pinch, mashed bananas are great for sweet baked goods, ground flax and water is great for hearty baked goods, and the liquid from a can of garbanzo beans is amazing for literally anything you’d want eggs for. I’ve never found a packaged egg replacer that I consider worth buying, not because they’re bad, but because you can achieve the same or better results with stuff you probably already have in the kitchen, or stuff you can use for more than just a binding agent.

6 Likes

My wife was vegan for years and I pretty much learned to cook so I could cook good vegan food. Indian food and Ethiopian food was always the high bar for vegan foods for me. Lentils, beans, and greens were our staples. We don’t eat fully vegan at this point, but thats mostly because I have trouble giving up butter and eggs and we enjoy 2 year cheddar a lot and live in a land of great local dairy… I will follow this thread as any motivation to be a little more plant based is good in my book.

Some random plant based food thoughts and experiences :

  • Fats are still important to me… evol and coconut oil are friends.

  • If beans are a staple in your home, you absolutely should get an instant pot, you no longer have to soak black beans, throw em in with plenty of water for 55 minutes on high pressure. Make a temper of onions, garlic, spices as it’s finishing and mix it all together.

  • For my palate, many (non-legume, non-leafy green) vegetables can lean towards too sweet when cooked… balance with acid and heat.

  • Make good bread (get the tartine bread book)

  • https://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/ - this website pretty much changed my life… if you like dal as much as I do, this is a limitless resource

8 Likes

I don’t want to necessarily throw this book entirely under the bus, as I recall there being interesting things in there and it has been years since I’ve read it… but one of the frosting recipes in this book nearly singlehandedly made my partner and I question eating vegan ‘food subsitutes’ … Trying to be tactful here, but delicious is not necessarily the word I use to describe it.

From macrobiotic diet:
Tahini w miso
Seitan / Tempeh and pickles

edit : add brown short grain rice and tamari
finish with oolong tea

1 Like

After living in cities that are incredibly expensive or in places where there is very little good food to eat out (current situation) that means cooking at home 95% of the time, so I like to think I’ve gotten half decent at it. I also try to avoid processed foods, which makes having fast/lazy meals really important.

To me the best thing about vegan or what I tend to just call hippie cooking (I’m not specifically veg or vegan but I eat that way anyway) is how you can keep so much around dry or that lasts almost forever refrigerated before you even get down to keeping veggies on hand. I hate going to the normal supermarket (though I can spend hours in a good asian grocery…). Like others have said I try to keep super well stocked on lots of basics- different types of rices, other grains (bulgur, couscous, millet, blah blah), oats, pastas, different types of lentils and beans, different veggie stocks, flours, dried mushrooms, different soba/rice noodles. In the fridge always lots of tofu, tempeh, carrots, misos, curry pastes, pickled things, tahini, and lots of garlic, onions, ginger ,and potatoes in the pantry. spices spices spices spices and lots of different oils/vinegars for making sauces or soup bases. Take almost any combo of those things and add either lemon juice, soy sauce or some greens, and you can whip up something good and fast without even using any sort of processed soy product or frozen burger thing.

I’ll eat a veg burger from time to time or for grilling in the park in the summer, but I find processed soy products or soy heavy cooking never sits well with me, with the exception being things like tofu and tempeh. I think there is something really crucial in the fermentation process there that makes it much easier on the body.

I can find tempeh here, but I miss the really good stuff I could get in the US. Some of the tofu I’ve had here is also downright awful. Lehop is pretty firm and tasty, best I’ve been able to get my hands on here so far. For me the biggest thing to improve my eating habits and not cooking the same 4 things over and over or just eat veggie junk food was learning more about cooking other foods/styles- Thai, Viet, Indian, African, Japanese, Chinese, so on. making substitutions where necessary, but I find a lot of them much more adaptable to veg/vegan cooking than a lot of American/European dishes without using tons of expensive or soy/substitute products, or having long standing veg cooking traditions of their own that are often also vegan just by those cuisines not being so dairy heavy to begin with.

2 Likes

As I am incredibly lazy my „go to” cooked meal is tofu spaghetti. Basically you take tofu, make it into really small bits, fry it on a pan, when it starts to get little brown you add onion to the pan and when onion starts to get ready you add tomato sauce to the mix. You can add any spices that you want but adding marjoram couldn’t hurt. Very basic but can be done in 15 minutes and often provides enough food for two days.

2 Likes

Vitamix is rad! I made some whipped banana “ice cream” with it today for the first time. Just threw in some frozen bananas and a little vanilla and it turned out great. Smooth and creamy kind of like soft serve.

Great for soups too!

i highly recommend the new amy chaplin book if planning/pantry maintenance is something you need help with (i always feel like i do). it’s as aspirational as it is realistic and has already helped me refine my kitchen practice. great recipes for nut milks/butters, beans, tempeh marinades, compotes, porridges, ferments, etc

3 Likes

I do most of the cooking in the house. My struggle is cooking for my partner who has stomach issues after consuming fake meats, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, and some other legumes. Most of the vegetarian protein staples. She can handle most beans, but will complain if I make them 2 or 3 times in the week. The limitations definitely make it tricky to cook meals that actually stick and leave us satisfied.

Anyone have suggestions for some other staples to experiment with, or similar struggles (the issues with legumes, not a pickier partner)?


Also, just got The Noma Guide to Fermentation, and excited to start building out a little fermentation zone in our (small) kitchen. Dreaming of the day when we have a bit more space to ferment and grow our own things.

1 Like

I’m economically mostly vegan; my weekly grocery budget is $20 (not counting coffee). My most typical meal is “hippie bowl.”

1 16oz bag Black beans (highest protein/$)
2 cups of rice
Some celery
Some collards
Maybe some oil of some kind
Whatever spices one likes

Put black beans in the pot along with just enough water to cover the beans. Cover pot.

Heat the water to boiling and boil two minutes (adjust lid so you don’t make a mess).

After it boils two minutes let it sit for an hour while you:

Chop the collards.
Chop the celery.
Play with a synth.

After the beans have sat for an hour transfer them to a frying pan with the oil if you want. Cook on medium-ish heat. Cover the pan. Stir now and then.

Clean/rinse the pot, put the rice in the pot along with twice as much water as rice (if you use the same scoop/cup for this it’s easy). Heat the rice to boiling and boil for two minutes.

After the rice boils for two minutes put the rice on the lowest heat you can manage for about 20-40 minutes depending on how like the rice. You can ignore the rice mostly from here out.

If you chopped the celery & collards you can play with a synth for 10mins. Otherwise put the chopped celery & collards in the fry pan along with the beans and cover. Stir now and then so nothing burns. Maybe turn down the heat. Add spices and/or oil if you want.

When the rice is the way you like uncover and stir/fluff, remove from hear, then cover and set for 10mins. Your beans should be soft to eat now, if so then turn off heat on fry pan. Otherwise keep heat on for the last 10 mins.

After the rice has rested 10mins dump the fry pan into the pot and mix it all up.

This usually makes enough for me to eat 2 days evening/afternoon. It is the least expensive way I have found to get: protein, a green thing, fat, and not feel hungry.

You can make many variations by including more vegetables depending on the season. Also you will note that the bean & rice stages are not that big of a deal. If you can afford a rice cooker it would probably help though.

9 Likes