Ideas for vegan meals to serve your meat-eating/ flexi/ veggie friends that don’t taste like there’s “something missing” (the most common complaint about vegan food I’ve heard). I’ve also included how to turn these into just vegetarian meals (mostly by adding cheese).
Just a small disclaimer: I don’t personally feel like there’s “something missing” from vegan meals. I do, however, feel like there’s something missing from my meal when there’s no chilli involved. Hence the reason why there’s chilli in every suggestion below.
I’d recommend making 2-3 of the following, as the variety will confuse your meat-loving friends into eating more, making them feel like they’ve had a “full meal” and avoiding any complaints about things being missing. Personally I prefer having a few different options anyway – tapas style rather than an (often quite bland) slab of meat or fish with some carbs / steamed vegetables on the side.
Below are some of my favourite vegan menu items. Enjoy!
Starters / Sides
#1. A proper salad. Yes, I love salad. For more information on how to make your salads amazing (as opposed to a sad looking droopy lettuce leaf), check out my post on salads. I’d recommend my everything salad consisting of tomatoes, cucumber, orange and red peppers, avocado, fried mushrooms, green olives, and lettuce, drizzled with balsamic, olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
For a vegetarian option: add some feta.
#2. Soup. Also known as “the blended salad”, soup is my second favourite food, and the (second) most amazing thing ever. If you don’t believe me, check out my post on soup. There are so many different options for soup, but my personal favourites are gazpacho, or a classic vegetable soup. As I mentioned in my soup post, you can add coconut milk to mix it up a bit.
For a veggie option: cream can be added instead of coconut, but honestly I’d recommend coconut over cream (even for classics like cream of tomato – it just adds a little something-something).
#3: Bruschetta. Pick a nice bread, and top it with some ingredients – could it BE any easier? I’d recommend:
- Chopped tomatoes, red onion, parsley
- Hummus and fried mushrooms (a personal favourite of mine)
For a veggie option: add some mozzarella.
#1. Spaghetti Arrabbiata
Cook your favourite pasta (I love this with spaghetti). Meanwhile fry some chopped garlic, fresh chilli, and an onion if you fancy it.
Add chopped tomatoes, chopped black olives, and a dash of white wine – then serve. You can time this so it only takes around 15/20 minutes (I recommend pre-chopped garlic).
NB: You can make this with a shop-bought jar of tomato sauce instead of chopped tomatoes. However, I prefer not to do this due to all the added sugars and preservatives these sauces contain (although they do photograph better than chopped tomatoes, as you can see above – I promise it tastes much better than it looks!)
For a veggie option: add grated cheddar (highly recommended)
#2. Veggie Thai curry (warning: highly aromatic and delicious)
Fry some vegetables (mushrooms, courgette, aubergine etc) with fresh chilli, and garlic (throw in an onion if you’re feeling fancy!) Stir in some vegan Thai curry paste, then add ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander, and Thai basil. Stir in some coconut milk and simmer. Meanwhile cook some jasmine rice, and serve.
A word of warning: many Thai curry pastes aren’t actually vegan (they often contain fish sauce), but I managed to find one that was. Just make sure to check the label!
#3. Sundried Tomato Aubergine Linguine
Fry chopped aubergine with rocket, chilli, sundried tomato paste, and white wine.
Meanwhile, cook some linguine. Serve with more rocket drizzled on top.
For a veggie option: replace the aubergine with halloumi – this tastes amazing and I can 10/10 recommend.
Let me know if you have any more suggestions and I’ll try them out!!
P.S. If you’re going to add cheese, do it right: