Through college, I taught myself to cook my favorite meals from growing up - kung pao chicken, meatballs and noodles, spaghetti bolognese. After I learned that the highest-impact thing I could personally do for the planet would be to cut out meat from my diet, I decided to try stopping, just to see how long I could hold out.
I rapidly realized the hardest thing for me: I had gone from maybe 20 different recipes I knew and loved, to none. Meat was the centerpiece of every single one of my favorite recipes. I was now starting from zero.
Since then, I’ve built up a new repertoire of favorites, and learned how to add, swap, and sub veg into some of my old meat-based staples. I want to share them here, for anyone who might also need some inspiration and a starting point to move more plant-based. These are my top picks, recipes that easily hold their own against any meat-based dinner - so good, you won’t miss meat.
Remember, it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have to commit to going full vegan, and if you do, you don’t have to reset the counter if you eat a quarter pounder. But if you can add one or two plant-based meals into your recipe mix at home, the planet will thank you. And I will be very excited to hear your reviews!
Last updated: April 20, 2021
⭐ Star ratings
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - exceptional, one of my top meals. These meals are in frequent repeat rotation at Chez Quigley.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ - great, delicious and satisfying. I revisit these once every 3-6 months.
⭐⭐⭐ - good, would happily make again, but haven’t revisited since first cooking.
⭐⭐ - fine, would make again if I had the ingredients, but might not go out of my way to make them special.
⭐ - would not make again. (You won’t see any of these on the list, because I don’t share them!)
🖥️ Recipes from the interwebs
There are so many recipes out in the wilds of the blogosphere, it’s impossible to know which are high-quality and which are just kitchen bloggers. I’ve tried many so you don’t have to. Here are some of my top recipes from around the web, including family recipes that I’ve adapted to delicious (dare I risk saying, more delicious?) vegetarian versions. More being added all the time!
📖 America’s Test Kitchen: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
This is my #1 recommended cookbook for the green chef. Of course not all recipes in a book can be winners, but I would say 4 out of 5 of the recipes I try from this book are delicious, 1/5 become new favorites that we return to over and over, and there have only been a small handful of duds. This book is absolutely worth it.
To avoid transcribing out full recipes, I’ve listed the name, page number, and my notes. I’d say that out of all the recipes on this page, most of my favorites are from this book. 3
America's Test Kitchen recipes