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When people find out I’m vegan the first question tends to be: “So what do you eat?!?” This is especially true here in Greece where people cannot imagine having even one meal without meat.
In fact, it’s not difficult at all to be vegan, and I’ll share some vegan meal ideas here today. First of all, I don’t usually follow specific recipes. I just work with what I have at home. I think one of the reasons people find veganism to be an expensive endeavor is that they try to follow exact recipes which often call for more expensive or rare ingredients. Keep in mind that you can adjust most recipes to your own liking. Unless you really want to get a specific result you don’t have to follow recipes precisely.
Vegan Breakfast Ideas
For breakfast, we usually have a smoothie. There are tons of recipes out there for you if you've never made a smoothie yourself. While I like to experiment (especially in the summer) our go-to smoothie for two people is made as follows:
1 cup of water
2 scoops of Terranova Life Drink
2 ripe bananas
½ cup (100-125g) frozen berries (raspberries are my favorite, but we also use strawberries or blackberries)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 rotab dates (Iranian, very juicy and sweet dates)
We also add flax seed or cacao nibs sometimes. You can change this recipe as much as you like. Instead of water, you could use plant milk, for example, and the dates could be replaced by maple syrup or even omitted completely if you don’t want to add any sweetness. You could replace the berries with any kind of fruit or even vegetable. Spinach is particularly nice in smoothies. Now, if you’re not used to smoothies yet you will find the idea of adding spinach strange. Once you’ve made the first spinach smoothie you will realize that the flavor of the banana is so strong that you will not even taste the spinach. You will simply get all the great nutrients from the spinach, but from drinking a sweet smoothie.
In any case, smoothies are entirely based on your taste. The key is to experiment as much as possible to get exactly the result you want. I’d suggest a glass or metal blender because, to me, the plastic ones just don’t seem very stable, but once you have a decent blender, smoothies will be the easiest meals to create.
If you want to be a bit fancier you’ll make what is known on Instagram as a smoothie bowl. You use less liquid when making the smoothie, put it in a bowl, and add some fruit and maybe rolled oats. Rolled oats are extremely filling, and even a constantly hungry person such as myself will be full for about two to two-and-a-half hours after having a breakfast which is based on rolled oats.
Vegan Snack Ideas
As far as snacks go, fruit and vegetables are obviously your best friend. If you want to eat them at work the easiest ones to have are, of course, ones that don’t need to be peeled. Carrots, apples, and celery are really good options because you can cut and wash them at home and then eat them wherever you like. Dried fruits and nuts are also really nice snacks, though not quite as filling in smaller quantities. Of course, there are also tons of vegan granola bars or similar products (Complete Cookie, I’m looking at you).
Vegan Main Dish Ideas
One of my favorite ingredients is coconut milk. It instantly gives an Asian flavor to your meal.
I like adding some vegetables and legumes to a wok (I love broccoli, but anything works really: spinach, tomatoes, peas, mushrooms, chickpeas, kidney beans) with some garlic and onions (plus ginger, if available), then add some spices and coconut milk. You could also add tofu. This fits really well with any kind of rice (personally, I prefer wild rice) or even noodles. Again, I don’t have a set recipe for this, I just combine whatever vegetables I like with the coconut milk and spices, but the end result is really delicious.
Of course, pasta is one of the fastest things you can cook whether you’re vegan or not. If you check organic stores you will find a variety of pasta and noodles that you cannot find in normal supermarkets and that can make it easier to incorporate different food groups into your diet. For example, there are excellent noodles made of black beans, so if you don’t want to spend time cooking a dish with beans, or you don’t particularly like the taste, you can still get some of their nutrients from the noodles.
It can be a good idea to add nutritional yeast to any pasta sauce you might be making, as it will provide you not only with vitamin B12 but also add some texture and a cheesy flavor to the sauce. Depending on the nutritional yeast you can even use it as a replacement for Parmesan cheese to top off your dish.
Another great ingredient to use, especially in sauces, is tofu. You can crumble it or cut it into pieces and it will instantly add texture and protein to even a simple tomato sauce. For more “sophisticated” sauces, minced soy meat can be used to create vegan Bolognese sauce or to make amazing Chili sin carne (I definitely plan on posting a chili recipe in the future).
These are just some basic ideas, but I’ll pay more attention to what exactly it is I usually cook, so I can post some more precise recipes for those that are interested.
What are some of your favorite vegan meal ideas? Are there any specific recipes you would like me to post? Let me know in the comments below.
Half Bulgarian Turk, half German living life as an expat in Greece.
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