Veganism is a growing dietary trend, and for those unaccustomed, can be one of confusion. Put simply, a vegan is someone who has decided not to eat or use any ingredients derived from animal products or their byproducts. Dairy, eggs, honey, meat, and gelatin are all foodstuffs vegans stay away from. Many vegans also practice this in other aspects of their lives, choosing not to wear leather, wool or silk.
Cooking for a vegan for the first time can be daunting when you’re used to basing your menu around meat, and even vegetarian meals often still rely on dairy and eggs for flavor. However, vegan dishes can be as flavorsome and inventive as any other. Here are five simple ways to make it enjoyable and tasty for all.
1. Start With a Staple
Build your dish around an easy to cook staple, and half the work is done.
Quinoa shows up in a myriad of vegan dishes because it’s full of plant-based protein and is simple to cook. It’s great at catering to dietary requirements as it’s gluten-free, vegan-friendly and high fiber option. Use it as you would rice or get inventive and treat it like an ingredient. Quinoa can make everything from pizza bases and falafel to decadent desserts. Throw it in a salad to bulk up the greens.
GoGo Quinoa pasta is another great staple to try out. Made with a blend of chia, quinoa, sorghum, and amaranth super grains, it’s higher in protein and fiber than traditional wheat pasta. Mixed up with a vibrant Napolitana sauce, roasted veggies and a healthy dose of olive oil, you have a delicious and hearty meal.
2. Jazz Up An Old Classic
Sometimes vegan dishes seem far removed from the meat filled dishes many of us were brought up on. To cater for vegans without alienating anyone else at your dinner, try a new twist on an old favorite. Burritos are delicious, and when filled with beans, quinoa and plenty of crunchy greens, they’re a great shared lunch option. Macaroni and cheese is a cheerful dish for when friends come over, and a vegan version can be tastier than you can imagine. Get the creaminess from blended cashews and coconut water, and add punches of flavor with chili.
3. Ask a Vegan
Rather than start from the beginning, look for the tried and true, and recipes you know people will love. Get online and check out vegan blogs, chat with friends who are vegan and ask for their favorite recipes. The more you cook for vegans the more naturally it will come, so learn from those with loads of experience.
4. Serve a Stellar Salad
Rather than having some token greenery pushed to one side, create a salad to be the main event. A perfect salad is all about the texture, quality of ingredients, and balance. Follow the 4 components rule for a salad to impress:
- A green base — crunchy or lush greens such as rocket and spinach.
- A variety of veggies — raw, steamed, roasted.
- Protein, fats and substance — Roasted nuts, rice or quinoa, avocado, lentils or beans, olives.
- An awesome dressing to bring it all together.
5. Just Skip to Dessert
Make the fun part of the meal. Bake some perfect brownies your guests will be wowed by, or create individual parfaits. Coconut oil and cacao can work wonders for a sweet tooth, so give your favorite treat a makeover and create it for vegans.
Once you’ve done it a few times, cooking for vegans becomes simple and enjoyable. Planning a vegan dish is usually much harder than actually cooking it, as sometimes it is difficult to break the habit of using butter for frying, or learning what ingredients make up certain sauces or packet items. It does get easier. Your vegan friends will appreciate the effort and even if you love meat, some of these vegan dishes are so tasty they will likely become a goto for a weekly meal.
Just remember to always read the label as you’ll be surprised how many foods have egg or dairy in them.
Let us know your favorite vegan recipes below!