Four meat-free meals for meat eaters

Last week Danielle Martin wrote a great post about her transition to vegetarianism, and the challenges she has received about her choices. I thought I’d put together a follow-on post with some meat-free recipe ideas to:

  1. Help people start making changes to their diet if they were inspired by Danielle’s article but don’t know where to start
  2. Give a few ideas to anyone still skeptical – proving it’s not all rabbit food, and providing a few ideas to try – treat this as a challenge!

Whether you’re going veggie overnight or just want to cut down a bit, when starting from a meat-based diet it can seem a really big challenge, but lots of vegetarian meals are simple and tasty – whether you’re veggie or not. These meals are ones which I think will help make that change less daunting, with no lettuce in sight. I’ve also included how you can adapt them to meet vegan requirements.

Shepherd’s without the shepherd

This classic comfort food is incredibly easy to reinvent meat free, and is one of my go-tos. I’d give you a recipe but I don’t have one – this is a versatile meal you can change every time and whip up out of more or less whatever you have in. You can use meat substitute mince for the classic taste, or replace with lentils for a similar texture. Alternatively one of my favourite options is to just load it with finely chopped veg, having softened it up in a saucepan. Whatever you go for, be generous with herbs and make sure you add the Sheffield classic, Hendo’s.

If you do want to make this meal vegan you’ll need to alter the mash as well – a dash of olive oil can replace the butter, and soy or oat milk will replace cows’ milk. Be careful with substitute mince as not all are vegan.

For even more flexibility, these ideas can be applied to include bolognese and chilli (sin carne) too.

Curry

Instead of chicken, you can fill delicious curries with:

  • Chunks of sweet potato, squash, peppers, courgette or aubergine
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Runner beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Quorn

They’re simple to make and really tasty and textured, with almost no changes to your normal recipe – sauce, rice, spring rolls and the like need not be changed. If you want to make this vegan choose your sauce carefully – make your own, choose Free From ranges, or inspect ingredients lists carefully for dairy.

Meat that’s not meat

I’ve always been a strong believer in not wholly relying on Quorn (et al), and use vegetables for most of my meals as its cheaper and encourages me to be more creative but it’s convenient, a great source of protein, and a good way to adapt otherwise meaty meals, so I do eat it quite regularly and would recommend it. Just throw them in whatever recipe in place of the meat you would have always used. There are hundreds of meat substitute products out there, my favourites are:

  • Linda McCartney Red Onion & Rosemary sausages
  • Quorn chicken nuggets
  • Tesco veggie mince
  • Linda McCartney pulled pork burgers

I’ve never got on particularly well with Quorn chicken pieces or with tofu, but with both I’ve heard that there’s a knack to cooking them, which I’ve just not got right yet! Vegan ranges are on the up but a lot of meat substitutes contain small amounts of egg and dairy so pick carefully if you’re after the vegan option.

Falafel

Versatile and delicious, the dense texture reminds me somewhat of meatballs, and they’re a filling, fibrous and tasty filling for wraps, pitta, burgers and baguettes. Alternatively eat them alone with dips, or use in tagines, salads, tabbouleh and more.

You can buy falafel in shops as pre-made balls or as a batter to put together at home, or you can make your own using chickpeas, oil, and a blend of herbs and spices. Falafel should be fine for vegans but it’s always worth a quick check with store-bought products.

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