Vegan Cooking Without Recipes

I think one of the most intimidating things eating vegan is the idea that you’ll now need a recipe for everything. We’re used to being able to make foods without recipes–chicken and a baked potato, a cheese quesadilla, a piece of salmon with asparagus. As tempting as it sounds to keep eating that way, vegan cooking can actually be easier than you’d think.

I love looking at cooking blogs and cookbooks, but I’d also recommend thinking about what you already know how to cook and how you can “veganize” that. Start with a food you know you like that’s easy to make plant-based. Pasta, burritos, and stir fries are all good choices. Now, substitute vegan ingredients. Try nutritional yeast for cheese, and beans, tofu, or a meat substitute for protein. Before you know it, you’ve taught yourself to cook vegan, without following a complicated recipe.

A common meal for us to have in our house is pasta. We saute some crimini mushrooms in olive oil, then add a meat substitute (in this picture it’s Beyond Meat’s Beefy Crumble–which just happens to be gluten and soy free). We mix this with a jar of pasta sauce and perhaps some Kalamata olives. To add a little extra nutrition, we chop kale and add it to the last few minutes of the pasta’s cooking time. It can be sprinkled with nutritional yeast and served with a salad for a satisfying meal.

This can have endless variations–zucchini added to the sauce in the summer time, a homemade pasta sauce when you have some more time, fresh herbs from your garden.

Try it for yourself, and you’ll soon have at least one meal a week that’s both easy and vegan.