Home Cooks Share How They Make Their Favorite Meatless Meals

Photographed by Alexandra Gavillet.

There are so many reasons to eat less meat. Whether you're looking to do your part to help out the environment, making a change for health reasons, or just challenging yourself to give up something you love eating for a specific period of time, you're going to need an arsenal of ideas to make the switch a lot more accessible and sustainable. In order to help with that, we asked real home cooks to share their go-to meatless meals.

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From fancy-sounding harissa tofu dishes to super-easy Trader Joe's veggie burgers, these recipes have helped real people eat less meat. You can follow their lead by recreating these dishes, which are shared below.

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Lentil Bolognese

Molly, 25
Why do you like this meatless meal?
It's easy to make, tasty and doesn't require a heap of fresh ingredients. Plus, lentils are a good source of protein if you're trying to eat less meat.
How do you make it?
You'll need an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, two cans of brown lentils (or equivalent dried lentils, soaked for 2-4 hours), a can of tomatoes, carrots/zucchinis/capsicum or whatever other veggies you want to throw in, basil, salt, pepper, and 500g of pasta. Finely slice and cook the onion and garlic, then chop the veggies and throw them in. Add the canned tomatoes and lentils and cook until the lentils are soft (around 30-45 mins, for dried lentils, less for canned.) Add seasoning, cook the pasta et voila! Serve with parmesan and more basil.
How did you come up with the recipe or where did you find it?
I'm found a recipe online like five years ago and I've kept refining it, depending on which ingredients I have access to and my current taste.
How often do you make this meal?
At least once a fortnight! Usually when I'm craving comfort food but can't be bothered going to a lot of effort.

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Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric

Anabel, 25
Why do you like this meatless meal?
Because it's delish, filling, cheap, and easy to make!
How do you make it?
Chickpeas, coconut milk, chicken stock, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and that's basically it!
Where did you find the recipe? 
It's Alison Roman's NYTimes recipe. You may know it simply as "the stew."
How often do you make this meal and when do you eat it?
Probably once a month. I make it on a Sunday and eat it for dinner and then a few lunches that I bring to work.

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Mapo Tofu

Michelle, 23
Why do you like this meatless meal?

It is the perfect comfort food — a good balance of flavor and very easy to make. I love mixing the meal with other staples — such as rice!
How do you make it?
Add tofu, sesame seeds, green onions. Stir in a big pot or wok. Add garlic and black bean sauce (optional). Finally, add the LKK mapo tofu sauce. Extra red peppers for taste. Voila — you got yourself a perfect meal.
Where did you find the recipe?
I saw my parents cook it at our restaurant growing up. I revised the recipe a little based on what I had.
How often do you make this meal and when do you eat it?
Once or twice a month, sometimes more! I eat it for lunch or dinner.

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Trader Joe's Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burger

Karina, 26
Why do you like this meatless meal?
It's SO yummy, easy, and budget-friendly.
How do you make it?
I cook the veggie burger in a conventional toaster oven, then toast both sides of a multigrain English muffin before adding lettuce, tomato, avocado (if I'm feeling fancy), ketchup, mustard, and Tabasco chipotle hot sauce.
How did you come up with the recipe or where did you find it?
Shockingly enough, the burger was love at first bite when I had it at a TJ sample station, and I'm a big fan of using English muffins as burger buns since one of my favorite restaurants (Roebling Tea Room, which has sadly closed) used to do that for their menu items.
How often do you make this meal?
I'll make it maybe once a month, or whenever I'm craving it. And another thing I love about it is that it makes an easy quick dinner or at-home late breakfast/mid-day meal on a lazy Sunday.

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Cauliflower Adobo & One-Pot Turmeric Coconut Rice with Greens

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Kathleen, 29
Why do you like this meatless meal?
The cauliflower adobo has a great savory/sour flavor that isn't typical for a lot of dishes I cook. It is super easy to make. The rice is the best rice I have ever had; such great flavor, and it's a great way to get your greens in! The two pair well together and they are filling. You don't even miss the meat!
How do you make it?
I follow recipes from NYT Cooking. Ali Slagels created the Cauliflower Adobo recipe and the One-Pot Turmeric Coconut Rice With Greens recipe.
How did you come up with the recipe for or where did you find it?
I found both recipes in the Cooking section of the NY Times website.
How often do you make this meal?
I tend to eat this meal during the fall/winter, maybe once every few months during that time period. But the recipes make a lot, so I have leftovers for at least a few days after I cook as well.

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Harissa Tofu, Steamed Kale & Tahini, with Tandoori Masala Quinoa

Robert, 28
Why do you like this meatless meal?
It's packed with flavor, incredibly easy to make, and once you have the ingredients, you can make a lot of it. Plus it sounds all fancy when you talk about it or tell your friends, but the title is legit the ingredients (like a Vodka Soda)
How do you make it?
First, you rise the tofu cube (I prefer extra firm), then slice into "steaks" or slabs. Then you put them onto a sheet greased with olive oil and stick them in a very hot oven (like 450 or 500 degrees). I tend to put two skewers through them, so they stand on the pan, but this isn't necessary. Then fill a pot with 2-3 cups of water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating up, get a small bowl and put a decent squeeze of Harissa paste, the juice from half a lemon, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Whisk together, and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the tofu from the oven and brush on the harissa mixture on every tofu surface. Place back in the oven. Rinse 3/4 cup quinoa in warm water and then put into boiling water to cook. Check on tofu and reapply harissa mixture when looking dry. Once the water cooks down significantly in the quinoa put in a pinch of garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of tandoori masala powder, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook until water is gone, stirring frequently. Once all the harissa mixture is on the tofu and the tofu looks browned on the edges, remove from the oven. Pour 1 cup of water into a new pot with a steamer attachment and steam kale. Serve with 2-3 slabs of tofu, 3 scoops quinoa, and steamed kale with a drizzle of tahini (I recommend getting the squeezable kind!)
Where did you find the recipe?
My roommate taught me harissa tofu based on a salmon recipe. The rest I made up because I wanted a flavorful, plant-based, low sodium dinner.
How often do you make this meal?
Two to three times a week for dinner!

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Roasted Broccoli, Kale & Black Bean Tacos, with Aji Verde

Mary, 31
Why do you like this meatless meal?
It's versatile because you can sub in cauliflower or anything. It's satisfying, and depending on how much veggies and beans you prep, you can extend to multiple meals (any of them).
How do you make it?
Make aji verde sauce (roughly: 1 bunch cilantro, 2-3 jalapenos with or without seeds depending on heat threshold, juice from 2 limes, ~2 teaspoons aji amarillo sauce if you can find it, ~3 tablespoons mayonnaise, and salt to taste; run in a blender or food processor until blended and smooth-ish); spice and roast a choice vegetable(s); saute kale or pop some in the oven for last 10 minutes as the other vegetable are roasting; saute a couple of shallots and garlic, add black beans and heat through; heat soft taco tortillas in a pan; assemble and enjoy!
How did you come up with the recipe or where did you find it?
I started making these regularly as an excuse to make/eat aji verde — my favorite, favorite part of eating late-night empanadas, to the point of ordering more empanadas so I could justify getting more sauce. It is great on anything, ANYTHING. Ok, maybe not a cake, but honestly I'd try it. I think it's lightly adapted from this Serious Eats recipe, but I skip the cheese/garlic/fussy specifics.
How often do you make this it?
Usually once a week or every two weeks, not even on Tuesdays

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