Are you looking for healthy and nutritious vegan dinners to try in 2023? Here we’ve rounded up some fantastic vegan meal ideas for anyone looking to add more plant-based meals to their diet.
From creamy squash soups to protein-packed tacos and stir-fries, these clean vegan dinner ideas are worth including in your weekly meal plan.
There’re many myths surrounding the vegan diet. For example, some might say it’s restrictive or doesn’t have much protein. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Properly structured and well-planned vegan meals can provide a rich and diverse array of nutrients that are just as essential and wholesome as any other diet.
Principles of a Healthy Vegan Eating
Paying attention to what you put on your plate is essential to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients yet enjoying the variety.
One of the easy ways to build delicious and nourishing meals is to use The Plate Method. The American Diabetes Association originally developed this method as a visual aid to help individuals plan balanced meals.
To understand The Plate method better, imagine a standard plate. Now, mentally divide it into three sections:
- Fill one half with non-starchy vegetables
- Next, fill one-quarter of a plate with protein-rich vegan foods
- Finally, fill the remaining quarter with starchy or carbohydrate-rich foods
Now, let’s look at the examples.
These vegetables are low in carbohydrates and calories but high in fiber. They include leafy greens like spinach, arugula, kale, chard, and lettuce; tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, and asparagus.
These are considered superfoods, and including them in your daily menu might offer numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of obesity or heart disease.
There are so many delicious leafy green vegetables to choose from. You don’t have to love or buy all of them. Instead, pick 4-5 non-starchy vegetable varieties you enjoy the most and add them to your weekly menu.
You can enjoy leafy green vegetables in salads, smoothies, or simply sautéed. Luckily, these greens cook fast, which makes them a perfect addition to your dinner menu.
A healthy vegan diet has many options for protein. You don’t have to drink protein shakes or eat store-bought “meats.” Instead, you can find all plant-based proteins in plants:
- Lentils and beans (cannellini beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, navy beans, black beans): You can cook from soaked dried beans, or for a quick meal, use canned ones. However, if you’re on a low budget, buying dried beans and cooking them yourself is your best bet.
- Tofu: Depending on the purpose, there are three types of tofu to choose from. Silken tofu is good for vegan desserts or sauces like vegan mayo. Firm tofu is good for baking or stir-frying, while extra-firm tofu is an excellent choice for marinating and stir-frying. Firm and extra-firm tofu are also delicious in salads or with some rice or quinoa.
- Tempeh: Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is an excellent plant-based protein choice. It’s perfect for marinating, baking, or stir-frying. You can even make a tempeh “bacon.”
- Nuts and seeds: Some healthiest choices are walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Add nuts to your morning oatmeal, or throw in a smoothie. Nuts such as cashews or macadamia also make an excellent sauce for lasagna or frosting for vegan cakes.
Whichever plant-based protein you choose, I recommend reducing or limiting your consumption of processed vegan “meats” like burgers or sausages. They’re good as an occasional treat but not a part of a healthy plant-based diet.
Starchy and Carbohydrate-rich Foods
There are simple carbs (soda, fruit juices) and complex carbs. To make the most of healthy plant-based eating, consume more complex carbohydrates. They tend to raise blood sugar gradually and provide a lower, more consistent release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Complex carbs include whole grains like quinoa, wild or brown rice, oats, millet, and bulgur. Try them in salads or pair them with stir-fried tofu or tempeh.
Starchy foods and vegetables include white pasta, white bread, white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and squash.
When possible, try to prioritize complex carbs and vegetables over starchy foods. They provide sustained energy and will keep you full longer.
Easy Vegan Dinners for The Whole Family
It’s not always easy to satisfy the pickiest members of the family. As a result, family meals often turn into a battle. Thankfully, it’s not the case with these delicious vegan ideas.
All the recipes are easy, flavor-packed, and are sure to turn mealtime into a moment of connection and enjoyment.
If you love hearty and comforting dishes, you’re in for a treat with this easy vegan mushroom stroganoff. The combination of creamy sauce, earthy mushrooms, and flavorful seasonings creates a scrumptious and nutritious dish that’s sure to please both vegans and non-vegans alike.
This slow cooker chickpea curry is packed with protein, vegan, and gluten-free. A healthier take on the favorite Indian dish – butter chicken but made with chickpeas. This is such a simple dish; the perfect make-ahead healthy weeknight dinner.
Acorn squash soup with turmeric will warm your bones this winter. It’s so creamy and delicious that you won’t realize how healthy it is. Full of veggies and made dairy free with coconut milk.
Enjoy this quick, easy vegan tofu broccoli stir fry recipe for a wholesome, restaurant-style Asian meal! Crispy tofu is cooked with tender broccoli in an aromatic and flavorful sauce, then topped with sesame seeds and served over rice.
Vegan Mexican rice is an easy and delicious side dish you can whip up quickly. Serving it with your favorite Tex-Mex foods like tacos or burritos is an excellent option.
If you’re looking for a quick and cozy vegan dish, this portobello pot roast is the recipe for you. Make it in the Instant Pot in only 12 minutes and enjoy a colorful and nutritious stew. All you need for this easy vegetarian pot roast is red wine vinegar, spices, and your favorite vegetables.
Photo credit: Lavender & Macarons
This comforting and hearty eggplant and potato recipe has tender potatoes, chewy eggplants, and flavorful aromatics. It’s the best vegan stew, made in under an hour. Perfect for busy weeknights or meal prep.
This vegan, gluten-free, low FODMAP pot pie is that and so much more. It is jam-packed with root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, parsnips), greens, meaty mushrooms, miso for umami, a light thyme-scented sauce, and unsweetened almond milk. It’s perfect for parties, potlucks, or when you need a little comfort food.
Take the taste of Chipotle home with you! Vegan copycat Chipotle tofu sofritas tacos, just like the real thing. If you’ve tried their sofritas tofu before, you must try this copycat version. Braised tofu in a spicy adobo sauce with pinto beans and spices. This delicious vegan meal can be easily made gluten-free.
This vegan mushroom wellington dish is fit for a holiday feast! Portobello mushrooms replace meat in this hearty wellington, resulting in a stunning, succulent, flavorful centerpiece. This recipe is easy to follow, and you can make it ahead of time, making it perfect for a stress-free holiday dinner party.
Find out how amazing vegan ratatouille is! Eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes unite in a humble yet mouthwatering fresh dish guaranteed to satisfy. It’s perfect for a casual weeknight dinner or a special gathering with friends or family.
Twelve minutes, five ingredients, and one pot – dinner doesn’t get much easier than this! This super creamy hummus pasta is naturally vegan and nut-free and can be made with either homemade or store-bought hummus.
This mejadra recipe (also known as mujaddara) is a humble dish but pure comfort food. It’s simple in its preparation, inexpensive in its ingredients, but with very complex flavors, some very familiar to me (like rice and lentils), and some lovely spices (cumin and turmeric) to improve on some old favorites.
Photo credit: Lavender & Macarons
This plant-based vegan Caesar salad is so delicious and flavor-packed you’ll never go back to the original. Made with crunchy romaine lettuce, oven-baked chickpeas, croutons, and easy Tahini dressing, this simple yet festive salad is perfect for any occasion.
Carrots, parsnips, and potatoes all come together for a silky smooth puréed soup that is easy to make, healthy and so satisfying. Make a big batch of this soup to enjoy for dinner while freezing the leftovers for a quick midweek meal.
Quick and easy red lentil curry, also known as Masoor Dal, is made in the instant pot and stovetop. You can make this super delicious, healthy, and budget-friendly vegan meal in less than 30 minutes!
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