Full-time veganism isn’t for everyone, but even eating the occasional meat-free meal can benefit your body and the environment. Whether you’re dipping a toe into veganism or have fully committed to a plant-based lifestyle, these cooking tips will help you get excited about vegan cooking!
Learn Different Ways to Cook Vegetables
Does anyone get excited to eat a vegetable that is soggy, flavorless, or gray? Doubt it! Certain preparations are great for some vegetables but not advised for others. For example, sturdy veggies like green beans and broccoli can be steamed to retain their vibrant color. But more delicate foods like mushrooms and zucchini may turn mushy in the steamer. Mushrooms will retain more of their flavor, appearance, and consistency when they are sauteed or baked on a sheet pan. When you learn the best ways to prepare your favorite veggies, you won’t be stuck with bland flavors and textures.
Don’t Give Up Your Old Favorites!
Any home chef who wants to cook more vegan meals should start with what they know. Your favorite meals can probably be made vegan easier than you think! You can replace meats with plant-based proteins like tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, and legumes. Mushrooms are great for bulking up vegan pastas, tacos, and soups. Eggs and dairy products can be replaced with store-bought vegan versions, such as cashew cheese and soy milk, or you can use your own ingredients to make flax eggs and other homemade substitutes.
Using spices and seasonings to imitate a meaty flavor is a great option when using soy-based faux meat or seitan. Mushroom powder lends a great umami flavor to meat substitutes that may not otherwise be very flavorful. Herbs like sage and thyme are also great for creating savory flavors. You may need to adjust the amount of seasoning in your existing recipes to ensure they taste the same even without the meat and dairy.
Dream Up Your Own Dishes
There are some delicious vegan recipes out there, but you don’t always need to follow a recipe to create a great meal. There are plenty of ways to combine your favorite flavors on the fly to create unique dishes. If it’s time to cook dinner and you’ve decided to wing it, don’t just rely on the “(fake) meat and potatoes” formula! Take a look at the ingredients you have on hand and consider how you can throw them together to make something delicious. Dishes like tacos, soup, sandwiches, pizza, and stir frys are all easily customizable. Once you have gotten a little more comfortable making your own recipes, you can break away from this framework and invent new ways to use vegan staples.