The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegan Dishes to Prepare for Non-Vegans

Posted on September 08, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Laneece Hurd, VRG Intern

I feel that one of the best ways to spread the message of veganism is by sharing appetizing and satisfying plant-based meals with non-vegans to show just how easy and delicious a vegan lifestyle can be. A common misconception about veganism is that vegans only eat meals like salads and smoothies. When cooking for non-vegans, I always try to prepare dishes that are familiar to them and show how they can eat similar versions of everything that they currently dine on, just without the animal products. Another concern that I’ve heard many non-vegans express is that they are worried about not getting adequate protein if they remove meat from their diet. So, in addition to making sure that the dishes are familiar, I try to choose protein-packed ingredients so that the meals are also full of plant protein to prove that you can easily meet your protein needs without consuming animal products.

Black Bean Burritos
For the black beans (yields five 2/3 cup servings)

These black beans are flavorful, versatile, and very simple to prepare. They are great served in a burrito or burrito bowl, but can also be blended into a black bean soup or even puréed to form black bean burgers. When served with rice and/or in a tortilla, this creates a hearty meal that is full of plant-based protein. On multiple occasions, I have prepared this recipe for meat-eaters and it has been a hit every time. Many have expressed that they did not even miss the meat and are surprised that vegan food can be so satisfying and filling. A few of my non-vegan friends have enjoyed these black beans so much that they prepared this recipe on their own and have even commented how easy it is to make.

½ lb. of dry black beans, soaked for at least 8 hours
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

For the burritos/burrito bowls:
flour tortillas
white/brown rice or even quinoa
sautéed vegetables such as onions, bell peppers, or mushrooms
guacamole or avocado
shredded romaine lettuce

After soaking, rinse the beans under cool water and set aside.

In a large pot, sauté bell peppers and onion in about 1-2 tablespoons of water or oil for about 5-7 minutes or until translucent and slightly tender. Add garlic and spices and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes until fragrant.

Add the soaked beans, vegetable broth, and enough water so that they are about one inch covered.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 1½-2 hours or until beans are soft and tender, stirring occasionally and always keeping about an inch of liquid above the beans.

Serve with rice in burritos or burrito bowls with sautéed vegetables and desired toppings such as salsa and/or guacamole.

Baked Spaghetti Casserole
(Serves 6)

This baked spaghetti casserole has been a favorite amongst my non-vegan friends and family for quite some time now. I think everyone loves a great bowl of pasta and this is a fun twist on your classic spaghetti, in which the noodles are layered with chunky, tomato-basil sauce and melty vegan mozzarella cheese. It is then baked into a mouthwatering casserole that is almost reminiscent of a lasagna. The vegan sausages, beefless crumbles, or lentils combined with the whole wheat pasta make this dish very hearty and high in plant protein that would satisfy any meat eater. When preparing this dish for non-vegans for the first time, I typically just prepare the recipe as is, but if preparing it for veggie lovers like myself, I love to layer in broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, and/or mushrooms, in addition to the spinach.

1 (16 oz.) box whole wheat spaghetti pasta
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 vegan Italian sausage links, chopped (I recommend Field Roast Italian Grain Meat Sausages), or vegan beefless crumbles (such as Gardein Beefless Ground), or 1 cup cooked lentils, if meat substitutes are not preferred
1 (15 oz.) can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 (24 oz.) jar of pasta sauce
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil or 2 tbsp. fresh basil, minced
4 cups fresh spinach
¾ cup of shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (recommended Follow Your Heart)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large sauté pan, cook bell pepper and onion in about 1-2 tablespoons of water or oil for 5-7 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add vegan sausage, vegan beefless crumbles, or cooked lentils and continue to cook for about five minutes.

Pour in diced tomatoes and pasta sauce and season with nutritional yeast, oregano, basil, and any other desired spices/seasonings. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

In a large casserole dish, place about a ½ cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the dish.

Next, add about one-third of the pasta followed by a layer of the sauce mixture, a layer of spinach, and a layer of vegan cheese.

Similar to a lasagna, repeat these steps and continue the layers until all the components are used up, finishing with vegan cheese on top.

Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Then, uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown.

Serve with a side salad or steamed vegetables.

The last dish that is great to prepare for non-vegans are these Almondy Oatmeal Cookies with Raisins and Chocolate Chips. I use this recipe from the Jazzy Vegetarian and they taste just like traditional chocolate chip cookies that everyone knows and loves. I often bake these cookies during the holiday season and take them to family gatherings and cookie exchanges. Initially, I don’t tell anyone that they are vegan. After tasting them and expressing positive feedback, such as how soft, chewy, and absolutely delicious they are, I proudly reveal to them that they do not contain any animal products. The response is usually always surprise and some have even asked for the recipe. I love this recipe because not only does the taste of these cookies appeal to non-vegans, but it’s also really easy for a vegan or non-vegan to prepare because all of the ingredients are familiar and easy to find.

The recipe can be found here:

This recipe is great as is, but I have found that grounding the oats into a flour, using a food processor or blender, makes the final product more closely mimic regular chocolate chip cookies rather than oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, I substitute organic cane sugar for the brown sugar and if I don’t have vegan margarine, I just double the amount of nut butter and the results are practically the same. I also really like to get creative and make different variations of these cookies by using peanut butter instead of almond butter and a variety of nuts and dried fruits according to the preferences of whomever I am preparing them for. Because these are such a hit amongst my non-vegan friends and family, I usually prepare a large batch and freeze the dough so I can bake them for various occasions on request.

Whether you are vegan or not, I hope you give these recipes a try and see just how easy and delicious vegan cooking can be. Enjoy!

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