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Crafting Vegan Meals Even Carnivores Will Love

vegan quinoa bowl

Do any of these questions sound familiar to you?

  • "What do you eat?"
  • "Do you eat enough?"
  • "Where do you get your protein?"
  • "Doesn't vegan food taste awful?"

If so, you've faced some of the most common questions and misconceptions about following a plant-based diet. A vegan diet is known for its health benefits, including lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. But refraining from eating meat, dairy, and processed products doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the taste, flavor, and enjoyment of food.

Here's a look at how even carnivores can enjoy tasty vegan meals.

What Goes into a Vegan Meal

fruits and vegetables in a basket

Fruits and vegetables are major staples of the vegan diet, along with nuts and seeds. One ingredient you'll find in many vegan meals is quinoa, a little seed that contains lots of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Other popular nutrient-dense foods include beans, lentils, and brown rice.

Because meat and dairy products are excluded, you can swap them out for other sources of protein and essential nutrients. Fortunately, many plant-based proteins like quinoa are just as filling, and they're far healthier than their animal-based counterparts because they cut out the sodium and saturated fats found in red meat. Dairy is a common source of vitamin B12, which helps maintain nerve and memory functions. But you can turn to fortified vegan-friendly dairy alternatives, such as almond milk or soy milk.

Vegan Cooking Methods

knife and vegetable on chopping board

Unlike meat-based dishes, many vegan meals don't require a lot of time spent in front of the stove. Steaming and boiling are two common cooking techniques for a plant-based diet, but there are a variety of other preparation methods to make your favorite vegan dishes.

Chopping and Mixing

quinoa veggie wrap

This quinoa veggie wrap is easy and quick to make because all you have to do is mix some quinoa (which you can boil ahead of time) with some chopped veggies, wrap it all up in a whole wheat tortilla, and you've got a protein-packed meal. It's so good you won't even realize it's vegan.

Chopping and mixing are also the best ways to create a fast and easy salad. For the most part, a simple salad can be thrown together quickly by pairing whatever veggies and fruits you have lying around the kitchen. The best way to ensure that you can always have a salad ready-to-go is to keep your favorite leafy greens — whether it's kale, spinach, arugala or any other variety — as a standard staple in your fridge. We also recommend keeping good vegan-friendly dressing ingredients on-hand, such as balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

For a simple vegan salad recipe, we recommend trying our hearty buckwheat salad.

Baking

healthy quinoa fritters

You can pop these healthy quinoa fritters into the oven—they pack enough protein that will satisfy even the biggest meat lover. This recipe uses quinoa as a base, combined with black beans, gluten-free oats, eggs, and spices to pull it all together. To make this dish vegan, replace the egg with a "flax egg"—a mix of flaxseed meal and a few tablespoons of water.

Baking can also be a great way to create vegan confections like this recipe for our coconut oil and brown rice based apple crisp. Simple substitutions for those pursuing vegan baked goods are abundant, including olive oil for butter (¼ cup & 2 tbsp of olive oil per cup of butter), bananas for eggs (1 banana per egg), soymilk for regular milk, and chilled coconut milk or cashew cream for heavy whipping creams. Similar techniques can also be used to bake healthy snacks like our homemade granola bars.

Frying

farro veggie burgers

While you'll still need to fry these farro veggie burgers in a pan, you won't have to spend too long before they're ready for you and your friends to enjoy. Don't let the name "veggie burgers" scare your carnivore friends; this dish will change their minds. In fact, make some extras because you're going to want seconds.

For another take on a commonly carnivorous dish, try cooking this quinoa veggie casserole, which gives you all the warmth and comfort of a traditional casserole—but with quinoa, tofu, tomatoes, and peppers. You won't even notice there's no cheese or meat.

The recent popularity of vegan diets has spawned a host of creative recipes that replace meat and dairy products with plant-based proteins. We hope this look into vegan meals helps you fuel your lifestyle in a delicious and satisfying way.

Interested in prepping a week's worth of vegan meals? Our guide makes it a simple and convenient process.

Photos: Elena Veselova / Shutterstock.com, Bruna Rico, Brooke Cagle