Even if you have armed yourself with a million reasons why you want to be a vegan, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. Dinner can suddenly feel like the most difficult thing in the world to serve and to serve well. It can feel like you have to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare something nutritious, healthy, and vegan. However, you don't. In fact, you can start trying new things, exploring food in whole new ways, and finding some of the most delicious recipes.
Salads don't usually make a good meal or full meal. However, they are a great way to add vegetables to your daily life. They can also help you eat less if you are trying to lose weight. You can experiment with all sorts of tasty salads including those with lettuces and spinach, cabbage (sort of like cole slaw), and broccoli slaw. You can try all sorts of great dressings. There are some that are bottled, but you can also mix your own with vinegars, citrus juice, oil, and seasonings. You can also add vegan mayo, vegan sour cream, and vegan cream cheese to make a creamy dressing.
The best side dishes are those that are full of vegetables. Steam your favorite vegetables add seasonings, sea salts, herbs, and even lemon juice. Skipping the oil will make them fat free. You can also grill or roast vegetables or serve salad as a side dish.
You can enjoy a lot of Mexican or at least Tex Mex with a vegan diet. You can use beans, tofu, or fake meats to replace the normal meats. You can have chips with salsa and other toppings, tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. Top them with lettuce, spinach, peppers (sweet and hot), herbs (check out the cilantro), onions (don't forget green onions and leeks), avocados and guacamole, sour cream (vegan), and cheeses (vegan, make sure that you read the labels because many soy and rice cheeses have casein in them which is made from milk).
Pasta dishes are very easy to make vegan. You can make pasta salad with all sorts of vegetables and pasta. Top it with vegan dressing or vegan mayonnaise. Spaghetti, goulash, and other tomato based pastas can also be made really easy. Add veggies for lots of good stuff. Creamy pasta dishes can be made with alternative milks such as almond milk and soy milk. If you want alternative foods you can use vegan burger, sausage, and cheeses to make your pasta dishes as well. Remember that whole wheat and whole grain pastas are best and 100% whole is way better than a little bit of whole grain.
Pizza isn't often thought of as a vegan option. However, with a vegan crust (no eggs, honey, or cheese) can easily be made into a delicious vegan pizza. If vegan cheese isn't your favorite then you can skip the vegan cheese and go with a cheeseless pizza. Put pizza sauce on the crust. Your options can be tomato sauces, cream sauces (use alternative milks and creams), and even dressings. Top it with lots of vegetables and or fruits. You can also use vegan cheeses and vegan meats (including bacon, ham, and or sausage).
Rice or Quinoa
There are a lot of rice dishes that also work well. You can make risotto, rice pilafs, southern or Mexican rices, beans and rice, or just vegetables on a pile of rice. Experiment with brown rice, red rice, and wild rices. You shouldn't stick with just white rice.
CousCous is a wheat pasta that is really small. It cooks up with a texture similar to a grain. It can be cooked with lemon juice, garlic water, or vegan vegetable broth. This can give it a lot of flavor. You can then mix in whatever vegetables that you want for a very tasty dish. Asparagus, spinach, and tomatoes work wonderfully in a whole wheat couscous that has been cooked in vegan vegetable broth.
In the West, Chinese (we often group all Asian flavors into this one category) is a lot of meat, a lot of oil, some delicious sauce, a few veggies (very few), put on top of some rice (either steamed white rice or fried white rice) or some white noodles. The good news is that you can enjoy healthy, tasty, and vegan Asian recipes. Getting creative can often make the difference. You can try your favorite flavors without the meat. Dishes such as Kung Pao chicken can really be fantastic shy the chicken. You can also make stir fry with any of your favorite vegetables and sauces. You can also use tofu and faux meats in your Asian dishes. Don't forget giving beans and chick peas a try.
You can make fried potatoes, hash brown dishes, baked potatoes, and mashed potato dishes. You can also try Shepherd's pie. While we usually think of these sorts of dishes (except Shepherd's pie) as good side dishes, they also make great centerpieces to the meal. You can mix in veggies into the main dish and add a good side veggie for a fantastic vegan meal.
Soups, Stews, and Chilis
There are also some days that you just want soups, stews, or chili. Each of these dishes can easily be made vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, and loads of vegetables. Rice, barley, pasta, and beans can be added as you see fit. Spices and seasonings can be added to give them whatever flavor you want. This allows you to add chili powder and cumin to make your chilis, fresh herbs or dried herbs for soups, and hearty flavors for stews including soy sauce for a rich taste.
When you first go vegan you should try to eat some meals that are somewhat familiar. However, you should also try to explore new recipes. Choose one new meal option a week and when you like something, keep it in your recipe box. This will let you grow yourself a larger pool of recipes and you will be able to enjoy more foods, more often.