Ever since my decision to go vegan, I’ve been getting a lot of misconceptions about what it is I can eat. While I’ve learned to debunk them as best as I can, I find that a lot of people still assume that going vegan means only eating salads and whole fruit for the rest of your life. Granted, that sounds like a very boring lifestyle for anyone, and I’m the person who enjoys a good meal.
But part of my decision was the research that that is not what vegans are left to eat. So, to my family relatives who tried to serve me a bowl of steamed, unseasoned vegetables decorated in the shape of a turkey leg last Thanksgiving, this article is for those who want to know about the delicious meals that vegans are still allowed to eat despite their dietary restrictions. And it’s never just bland vegetables.
Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese
Eating cheese (or at least, something that tastes like cheese) without dairy is still possible in this vegan mac ‘n cheese recipe from Oh She Glows. Butternut squash, when pureed, seasoned with salt and pepper, baked, and processed, can pass for cheese sauce you would expect in this creamy dish.
There are pre-made vegan pastas that don’t use eggs available in grocery stores. Simply boil it the way you normally would, drain it, and then add your cheese sauce. For flavor or added texture, you can add vegetables, herbs and spices. I like to taste it first before adding more salt and pepper to taste, and then sometimes adding a little hot sauce. Add some non-dairy milk if you find it too thick.
If you want your mac ‘n cheese to be in a casserole, bake it with turmeric and breadcrumbs. This gives it a thicker and heavier texture.
Baked Onion Rings
Some foods are known as “accidentally vegan,” meaning they weren’t made to cater to vegans, but they were surprisingly made without any dairy products or animal ingredients and can fit into a vegan diet. Oreo Cones, Cracker Jack, Lay’s Potato Chips, and Sour Patch Kids are just some examples. But one of my favorite accidentally vegan snacks is the crispy baked onion rings. They taste like the ones you’d find in fast food restaurants but are much healthier and do not have eggs in the batter.
Instead of using eggs, breadcrumbs, and flour, your batter consists of flour, broth, and cornstarch to help it stick. Your coating ingredients include cornmeal, breadcrumbs, yeast, salt, sesame seeds, garlic powder, and your favorite herbs.
Tofu Chicken Nuggets
Your kids will love eating tofu as a chicken substitute with this tofu nuggets recipe from The Spruce Eats. It tastes like chicken and has the same consistency as real processed nuggets, as long as you use extra-firm tofu that’s well pressed.
Mixing the tofu with panko breadcrumbs, spices, soymilk, and yeast, you get tofu that’s just like your everyday chicken nuggets with around 175 calories. If you want to go even healthier, skip the frying pan and bake your nuggets instead.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting
These cupcakes don’t have butter, milk, or eggs in them, making them vegan-friendly. Instead, this vegan chocolate and avocado cupcake recipe from Love and Lemons uses alternatives such as agave syrup, almond milk, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil in its ingredients. The frosting won’t come out green though, since you’ll be adding cocoa powder and baking chocolate into the recipe.
It’s a very simple recipe, like the way you’d make normal non-gluten cupcakes. Pre-heat your oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, mix your dry ingredients, mix your wet ingredients, and then gradually mix in your wet ingredients to get an even mixture. For the frosting, melt the baking chocolate and combine everything in a food processor before letting it chill. Never frost your cupcakes while they’re still warm or the icing will melt.
Vegan Mushroom Alfredo
A creamy and cheesy alfredo is still possible in a vegan lifestyle if you know how to make its substitute. This vegan mushroom alfredo from Food Republic, for example, uses a blend of cashews, water, vinegar, and lemon juice as the cream and peanuts and yeast as the parmesan replacement, and it tastes just as good.
It’s the same set of steps as making your own alfredo – boil the pasta, sauté the onions, garlic, and mushrooms – but you need to blend the parmesan and the cream substitutes beforehand.
Vegan Mozzarella Sticks
Nuts make a good substitute for cheese that, with the right combination, you can make substitutes for various types of cheeses. Take vegan mozzarella, for example, which you can get pre-made at some grocery stores or you can make your own using this vegan mozzarella recipe from Minimalist Baker. All you need are cashews, coconut yogurt, lemon juice, almond milk, sea salt, yeast, and tapioca starch.
Once you’ve made your own mozzarella, why not turn it into a delicious restaurant staple, mozzarella sticks? HellYeahItsVegan.com has a vegan mozzarella sticks recipe where you don’t need to use eggs for your coating, just water, flour, cornmeal, and cornstarch. You can make your own breading with lots of spices to make it more flavorful.
Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
Yes, ice cream is still possible to eat as a vegan. While our options are a bit limited, you’ll find some brands offer vegan ice cream. I like Trader Joe’s chocolate chip ice cream, so even if Keep It In Kind’s vegan brownie ice cream sandwich recipe calls for vanilla ice cream, I like to make it even more chocolatey by replacing it with chocolate chip.
The brownies have no eggs or butter (it uses vegan butter), and there’s an option to go gluten free in the recipe. The instructions are fairly easy enough for someone with the materials and a bit of experience understanding baking instructions.
These are just some recipes you’ll find online that show going vegan does not mean eating salads and fruit for the rest of your life. Food can be delicious while still being animal-free, you just need to find the right substitute for animal products.