Easy meal swaps for plant based eating

Be inspired to try a vegan diet with these easy and delicious ways to make your favourite dishes meat-free!

Sunday roast

Everyone loves a good roast dinner, especially in winter, and this very British tradition lends itself beautifully to a vegan makeover. Instead of the meat centerpiece, serve a wholesome and filling nut roast using a selection of nuts such as Brazils, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds, and pack it with herbs and spices. Alternatively, make a vegetable main dish such as marrow or squash stuffed with grains and herbs, or a creamy cauliflower ‘cheese’ using a blended cashew and nutritional yeast sauce and adding leeks and spinach for extra punch. Whatever the focus, go wild with vegetable sides (think roasted, mashed and steamed) and don’t forget the crunchy roast potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, sage and garlic.

Curry

Whether you’re making a North Indian style curry, with a tomato-based sauce, or a South Indian or Thai coconut-based dish, plant proteins such as chickpeas, lentils and mung beans can easily replace meat, poultry and fish, while a variety of oils can replace ghee (coconut oil is a great addition to Asian dishes). Try chickpeas with spinach and tomato, mung beans and coconut, and lentil dhal.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Use your regular recipe, making sure you start with plenty of onions, garlic, celery and carrots, and then replace minced beef with puy lentils before adding tinned tomatoes and tomato puree. Add in some extra vegetables for flavour, texture and nutrients – try courgette, mushrooms, spinach and chopped red pepper.

Shepherd’s Pie

You can pack Shepherd’s Pie with lots of vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, courgette) before adding green, brown or puy lentils, mung beans or chickpeas. Add flavour with plenty of chopped herbs, and depth with a splash of vegan red wine, and make it even more nutritious with a topping of sweet potato or mashed carrot and swede. Shepherd’s Pie made with these ingredients also lends itself well to being ‘spiced up’ with cumin, coriander and a sprinkle of turmeric.

Fajitas, burritos and chilli

Use tofu or tempeh in place of chicken, beef and prawns, along with red, green and yellow peppers, red onion and shaved carrots to make sizzling fajitas. Season with tamari and chilli, and serve with corn tortillas, guacamole and refried beans. Roll up a spicy mix of beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn, chilli, cumin, fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime for a satisfying burrito topped with guacamole. Chilli is super easy to ‘veganise’: the spicy sauce can host a wide variety of beans (kidney, mung, aduki, black, haricot) and lentils (puy, brown or green hold their firmness better than red). Add mushrooms, sweetcorn and peppers, and serve with brown rice and a dollop of guacamole, for a well-balanced and delicious meal. To accompany Mexican dishes, make a vegan sour cream by soaking and blending cashew nuts with vinegar, lemon juice and salt.

Burgers

A far-cry from the heart-unhealthy beef-based burgers, vegan burgers can really pack a nutritional punch. In its simplest form, a grilled Portobello mushroom can be the perfect ‘burger’ with a rich, earthy flavour. Beans, lentils and chickpeas are all ideal burger bases, and you can add chopped vegetables, herbs and spices in myriad combinations. Top your burger with salad, mashed avocado or guacamole, spicy salsa, cashew cheese or vegan mayo and serve in a wholemeal bun with sweet potato fries for a fabulously healthy fast-food makeover.