Vegetarian-Friendly Food Ideas for the Whole Family, Even Picky Meat-Eaters
Vegan and vegetarian food has come a long way since the days of bland tofu and steamed veggies. Still, embracing more plant-based foods can be intimidating. But you know what makes it much easier? Having a solid plan. And more than that, having a plan you’re actually excited about.
To that end, we’re sharing some of our all-time favorite vegan and vegetarian-friendly food ideas. They have become our go-to, and we know that whether you’re flexitarian, vegan, or simply in search of a yummy meal for your next Meatless Monday, you’re going to love them too.
Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly Breakfast Ideas
Ah, breakfast. Easily the most beloved of meals. But if you’re not used to starting your day with a meatless, veggie-based brekkie, you might find yourself staring into the fridge, scratching your head, and asking: If there’s no bacon and there’s no sausage —and (gasp!) there are no eggs — how can there possibly be breakfast? Not to worry. Here are some crave-worthy vegetarian recipes that are sure to wake you up before you go-go.
Chicken and Waffles
You don’t have to be from the South to appreciate the goodness of this sweet and savory dish. And if you’re looking for a veg-forward version, you’re going to need an amazing substitution for that crunchy, crispy chicken.
That’s where this recipe for vegan chicken and waffles comes in. While it’s the main attraction for weekend brunch, we won’t blame you for whipping it up as a weeknight dinner too.
Black Bean Breakfast Burrito
There isn’t much that compares to the breakfast burrito. With its perfect mix of form, function, and flavor, this Mexican-based favorite is the ultimate breakfast comfort food.
This recipe for the ultimate vegan protein burrito packs a protein punch with quinoa, black beans, and hemp seeds. (Although if you don’t have black beans handy, you can easily use pinto beans, white beans, lentils, or chickpeas.) For added nutrition, fold in some sautéed cubes of sweet potatoes or squash.
Finally, finish your creation with fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream, and you may forget that you’re actually eating your veggies!
Simple Southwest Tofu Veggie Scramble
For a Southwest spin on an old-school classic, this tofu scramble has you covered. The recipe calls for sautéing red onions, red peppers, and kale in olive oil, but use whatever veggies you have around — think zucchini, spinach, yellow squash, or butternut squash.
Top it with mozzarella or cheddar cheese, and serve with gluten-free toast or up the ante with a side dish of Southwest sweet potato hash.
Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes
Flapjacks, pancakes, hot cakes. Whatever you call them, we call them delicious. And there’s no reason you can’t treat your taste buds to the delectable sweetness of this vegan-friendly food. We’re particularly smitten with the gluten-free, vegan-friendly banana walnut pancakes from Minimalist Baker. No eggs, no dairy, no problem!
Vegetarian Recipes for Lunch and Dinner
You can recreate virtually any recipe and transform it into a delicious vegetarian meal. Check out these plant-based lunches and vegetarian dinner recipes. Although truth be told, you can enjoy them anytime!
Caesar Wrap With Avocado
We made this Ceasar wrap recipe using our delicious Nowadays nuggets, so rest assured these are taste-tested and approved! After all, we don’t want you thinking you live in a world where you can’t have a deliciously vegetarian-friendly chicken Caesar wrap.
Bonus: The total time from start to finish is less than 30 minutes, and there’s even a recipe for DIY plant-based parmesan cheese? You’re welcome!
Meatless, Gluten-Free “Spaghetti”
If you’re looking for a gluten-free, lower-carb alternative to your regular weeknight pasta, look no further than spaghetti squash. This magical vegetable is grown in the shape of spaghetti and can take the place in your fave Italian dishes from pesto linguine to spaghetti with marinara. (Seriously, if someone unfamiliar with spaghetti squash saw you removing the stringy flesh with a fork, they would probably think you were a sorcerer!)
If one of your weeknight go-to meals is pasta with meat sauce, fear not. You can use spaghetti squash (or zucchini noodles, aka zoodles) as your base. Then, simply replace the meat with walnuts and mushrooms — portobello, shitake, cremini, whatever you like. We love this mushroom walnut bolognese from Delectable You.
Crispy Tacos With Fresh Pico de Gallo
Ready Tacos just might be our favorite Mexican vegetarian-friendly food. And for good reason: all you need is a taco shell and anything you put inside it shall be considered a taco. Case in point: Nowadays crispy tacos filled with crispy nuggets, fresh cilantro, shredded cabbage, and pico de gallo. It’s a perfectly easy weeknight meal the whole family will crave.
We know what you’re thinking: chickpea what? Yep. We thought the same thing when we first heard about it, but we promise, it’s a thing. You can use plain chickpeas or even a combination of chickpeas and cashews as the base to create a tuna-like texture, and then add in all the usual suspects: onions, celery, vegan mayo. But this "chickpea of the sea" tuna sandwich has a secret ingredient you might not suspect: hummus.
Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili
Nothing quite beats a good chili, especially on a cold day. But just because there’s no meat doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in this hearty dish. With the right veggies and seasonings, you can take your chili over the top.
This black bean sweet potato chili recipe brings together a mix of garlic, cumin, chili powder, chipotle pepper for maximum flavor, plus black beans, sweet potato, tomatoes, and quinoa. Serve with avocado, cilantro, cheese, and sour cream, and you’ve got yourself a vegetarian dinner to keep you warm and full.
Walnut or Lentil Tacos
Tacos have got to be one of the most versatile Mexican foods. All you need is a taco shell (or even just a lettuce wrap) and anything you put inside it shall be considered a taco! It’s the perfect weeknight meal for any busy family, but what can you use instead of meat or cheese?
For starters, consider using Nowadays nuggets (seriously, they go with everything). Or try something maybe you hadn’t considered before — like walnuts or lentils. Walnut “meat” tacos offer plenty of texture (and protein) while lentil tacos are a delicious meat-free way to get in your protein, fiber, and flavor.
Of all the vegan and vegetarian recipes — from Mediterranean, Indian, and Italian to Greek, Thai, and beyond — the veggie burger is a go-to American classic. Far from junk food, it can be a nutritious meatless main dish any night of the week. Simply swap out your regular meat patty with a veggie burger and the rest is the same: ketchup, mustard, pickles, bun (or lettuce wrap) and boom! Dinner is served.
There are plenty of pre-made veggie burgers available, but if you're feeling creative, you could also try your hand at making your own veggie patty. Even easier: use a portobello mushroom as a burger patty. They’re relatively high in protein for a veggie and their meaty texture makes for a perfect meat substitute.
Vegetarian Recipes Made Easy
As you can see, finding vegetarian-friendly food to create meatless meals for the whole family is a lot easier than you might’ve thought. You just need to know where to look. (That’s what we’re here for!)
Rather than a chore or challenge, adding more plant-based dishes to your family table is an opportunity to enjoy more flavors, colors, and textures your tastebuds were just waiting to discover.
We hope this veggie-centric guide will serve you well in your meatless meal planning. For more ideas, be sure to check out our ever-growing list of taste-tested Nowadays recipes.