Some people might choose to cook vegan-style out of the desire to cleanse their bodies. Some may eat vegan meals out of necessity due to food intolerances. Others choose to eat a meatless, dairy-free, egg-free meal a few times a week in an effort to limit their own environmental footprint. Whatever the reason, there's no shortage of delicious vegan meal ideas among today's culinary delights.
Lunch options are endless considering the multitude of dairy-free and egg-free products on the supermarket shelves. Even specialty stores sell vegan bread and pasta, and each traditional dairy product has its non-dairy twin: soy milk and soy cheese, for example. The typical sandwich can become vegan with these products. Non-substitute options often make use of other cultures' dishes, like the burrito. A simple tortilla with beans, tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and corn provides a filling lunch. Moroccan couscous, spiced and with dried fruit, is another experience. Vegan pasta can take on a delicious sauce of roasted tomatoes and basil, and can even turn "meaty" with the addition of roasted eggplant or portabella mushrooms. For those who eat breakfast for lunch, saute firm tofu and scramble with traditional omelet vegetables and seasonings for a vegan take on scrambled eggs.
Dinner always seems more complicated than lunch, but it doesn't have to be, even in the case of vegan dining. Asian vegetable stir-fry is a simple way to avoid meat, eggs and dairy: Cook rice and stir fry onions, bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn and tofu in peanut oil, then serve with soy sauce. Pizza is another main course that can be vegan and as tasty as the original. Make a vegan dough from scratch, or buy a pre-made vegan crust. The secret is in good sauce and texture---mushrooms bring a lot to a pizza, but so do ingredients like pine nuts. Season a variety of ingredients like chickpeas, lentils and quinoa and make into patties, then serve like a hamburger. Homemade fried potatoes are always vegan and make a nice accompaniment.
Soups and Salads
The wonderful thing about soups and salads is that they can be either hearty or light, paired together or eaten on their own, increased in size for dinner or kept on small plates for lunch. Salads without meat, dairy or eggs can be just as satisfying and nutritious as the traditional fare. Excellent ingredients to boost a salad include quinoa, black or garbanzo beans, tofu and roasted vegetables (think sweet potatoes, eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes). Roasted nuts and seeds add a whole other layer of nutrition and texture---sunflower seeds, crushed roasted almonds and pine nuts are a few options. There are easy-to-make vegan vinaigrettes, as well---avocados can lend a creamy texture to dressings, and lemons or limes can add a nice kick. Hemp is an ingredient used to boost nutrition in many vegan recipes, and several vegan vinaigrettes call for it. Soups also provide a wonderful vehicle for the vegan meal. In fact, many non-vegan recipes can become vegan with creative substitutions. Soups with bean or root vegetable bases can be made "meatier" with the addition of soy products like tofu. Lentils are an excellent soup base and are delicious with a nice combination of herbs and spices.