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Vegan Meal Plan #1: Comfort Food for Everyone

Dive into 10 vegan comfort food recipes, including mac and cheese, Bolognese sauce, and BLTs!

Photograph by Olga Ivanova

I’ve been following a mostly vegan diet for heart-health reasons since 2017. It’s true that I eat a lot of quinoa, kale, whole grains, and beans. I got into this whole vegan thing for my health, after all. It definitely isn’t all veggies all the time, though. Sometimes, people wonder what I eat when I’m sad, stressed, or lonely. Like everyone else, I occasionally need a meal that’s essentially an edible hug, and I am not opening a bag of baby carrots at those times. 

The truth is, home-cooked plant-based dishes can be just as much a treat as those with meat and dairy. I've found vegan versions of all the best comfort food and enjoy them often. And I hope some of this Meal Plan's recipes will fit the bill for you, too.  

Contrary to what some people think, a vegan diet isn’t supposed to be all rabbit food. There’s a great deal of variety in plant-based home cooking. And every comfort food classic is eligible for a vegan makeover. By swapping meaty ingredients with wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, like beans, grains, and nuts, you can create filling and comforting vegan meals. Plant-based versions just happen to have plenty of the good stuff you want (vitamins, fiber) and a lot less of the stuff you don’t (saturated fat). 

There are many reasons to consider increasing the number of your plant-based meals. For one thing, eating little to no meat can add years to your life. The staples of a plant-based diet, like lentils and whole grains, are associated with improved health, especially heart health. Not to mention, shifting to veganism is the biggest way you can reduce your negative impact on the environment

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to put together a full week’s worth of inspired vegan comfort food to create a Meal Plan. Whether you want to take a short break from meat or try a vegan diet on for size, this Meal Plan gives you a chance to see how wonderfully comforting a plant-based diet can be. Mac and cheese? Obviously, I’ve included that. Pasta Bolognese? Yes, it can be vegan. “Meatloaf”? Trust me — you’ll be surprised how incredibly meaty chickpeas can be. Even your morning scrambled eggs can be made plant-based with the clever use of a block of tofu. 

Whatever your reason for wanting to eat more plants, this Meal Plan will help keep you on track and won't make you feel like you’re missing out.



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1. Vegan Banana Bread

Yummly Original

Very few things in life are as cozy as a slice of banana bread. Chock-full of ripe bananas, a slice of this loaf would be a wonderful breakfast alongside a mug of hot coffee or tea. Toast the bread before serving if you like to start your day with a warm meal. Omega-3 rich flax seeds stand in for the usual eggs here, binding the batter. Canola oil and dairy-free milk (such as almond milk) keep it vegan. This also hits the spot as a sweet and fruity afternoon snack.

2. The Best Tofu Scramble

Wake up with this high-protein breakfast scramble based on crumbled tofu instead of eggs (and consider it for weeknight dinners). A skillet of tofu cooks up as quickly and easily as a pan full of eggs, only without the saturated fat or cholesterol. A little bit of dried turmeric gives it a sunny, egg-like color, and nutritional yeast lends it its cheesy flavor reminiscent of Parmesan. This flexible recipe will accommodate whatever veggies you want to add. For this dish to hang together just like eggs do, finish it by stirring in a spoonful of vegan mayonnaise. Trust me — it’s a great idea! 

3. Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese

If you’ve never had it, prepare to be stunned by how rich, creamy, and totally cheesy a plant-based mac and cheese can be. How is this culinary witchcraft possible? A combination of a couple of secret ingredients (cashews, nutritional yeast) mimics the umami richness of cheese sauce. Pro tip: Unless you own a high-speed blender, for the most velvety sauce, soak your cashews in cold water for at least eight hours before making this recipe. Just drain them before blending.

4. Veggie Noodle Curry Bowl

Fragrant spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, and garam masala form the flavor base of these hearty veggie bowls. They infuse rich, creamy coconut milk to create a zesty curry sauce. Spiralized zucchini and sweet potato make a delicious, gluten-free alternative to the usual wheat or rice noodles. Peas add a wonderful pop of sweetness, but if fresh ones aren’t in season or available at your market, thaw the frozen kind instead — they’re every bit as good.  

5. Cauliflower Bolognese

Usually, ground beef or pork is what gives the classic meat sauce its heft. Here, you’ll work with a combination of minced cauliflower and mushrooms to achieve that same wonderful meaty texture. The sun-dried tomatoes add an extra layer of savoriness to this vegan Bolognese. If you prefer fresh thyme, basil, and oregano, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of each instead of the dried herbs. And though this dish calls for cremini mushrooms, any variety from plain button to fancier portobello can do the job.

6. Falafel

The humble chickpea is a star of many plant-based diets, and this recipe is one example of why that is. Combined with garlic, herbs, and spices, these hefty chickpea patties are tasty and versatile. You can slide them into a pita for a sandwich, set them on top of hummus to make them a meal, or put them at the center of a plate of salad for a Mediterranean-inspired feast. They also freeze well, so if you love falafel, feel free to double the recipe for a quick, healthy meal you can serve another time. 

7. Veggie Tanzia

Pro

Note: This recipe is available only to Yummly paid subscribers. Learn more here.

This Moroccan classic is often served for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It usually accompanies a meat dish, but this one's vegan and an entree unto itself. A variety of dried fruits adds an alluring sweetness. Hearty slices of butternut squash and turnip make it a substantial main course for a holiday or any day. Toasted almonds sprinkled on top lend crunch and richness. This recipe calls for serving it with couscous, but quinoa or rice would also work well on the side. 

8. Big Batch Chana Masala

Yummly Original

Opening a container of takeout can certainly be a special kind of comfort. With its delicious sauce and a blend of spices that layers complex flavor, this Indian dish will give you those happy takeout vibes. The combination of chickpeas and tomatoes is classic. If you don’t have a red onion on hand, feel free to substitute yellow or white.  

9. The Vegan BLT

If you thought you’d be saying goodbye to the pleasures of bacon this week, you'll be pleasantly surprised by this smoky, decadent, pork-free BLT. Here, coconut flakes are amply seasoned with smoked paprika, tamari, and soy sauce to replicate that fatty, salty, bacon-y flavor and crispy texture. And once you know how to whip up this coconut bacon, trust me, you’ll be sprinkling it on soups, salads, and any dish you might garnish with bacon — not to mention just eating it by the handful.

10. (Almost) Classic Chickpea Vegan Meatloaf

Real talk: A slice of meatloaf and a pile of mashed potatoes is the last word in comfort food. Luckily, this chickpea-based version delivers all the satisfying flavors and hearty textures of your favorite meatloaf, minus the meat. The aromatic mixture of onion, celery, carrots, and garlic provide recognizable background notes, and the combo of liquid smoke and soy sauce lends a distinct meaty flavor. No liquid smoke? Don’t worry — just use smoked paprika instead.

Keep exploring the vegan diet

Has this sampling of vegan comfort food whetted your appetite? From vegan black bean enchiladas to vegan tacos, vegan lasagna to meatballs, shepherd's pie to pot pie, and even Buffalo cauliflower to French onion dip, there are many more meatless dinner recipes and anytime dishes to explore on Yummly. Learn more with these next collections.

The Vegan Diet: How to Know if It's Right for You

10 Vegan Pantry Items to Kick-start Your Vegan Cooking Plan

Rise and Shine to a Satisfying Vegan Breakfast

How to Make Vegan Cheese, in 12 Easy Recipes

15 Vegan Grilling Recipes for Summer Cookouts

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