Restaurant owners and meat-eaters, this one's for you. I’d like to declare upfront that I agree that it’s the customer or guest’s choice to eat plant-based, and they are coming to your establishment or home so they should respect your space. I totally get that - that’s the main reason I’ve never been able to go fully vegan myself. I find it culturally difficult to ask people to cater vegan for me whereas vegetarian doesn’t seem quite as much of an ask. Perhaps every friend who has ever hosted me is rolling their eyes right now like, “Girl, you have no idea!”. I’m sorry for those times and for all the times going forward.
Perhaps I’ve been cooking this way for so long that now it seems like a no brainer to me. And restaurants, I’m in no way trying to hate on you, I just wanted to put this post together to show people how simple it is to make vegan meals or include them on a restaurant menu, without having to spend a fortune or go to too much trouble in deviating from your meat dishes. Plant-based eating is a new way of life for many people so it’s totally normal to be put off by all the new terminology and think that it makes it complicated. I promise it’s not. With a few basic staples added to any pantry - that will complement your meat dishes too - it can be really simple.
For restaurants in particular who do have vegetarian meals, I’ve always wondered, why go to all that effort and not just double up and make it vegan while you’re at it? That way you can please a wider audience with the same meal. For example, one of my favourite cafes in Malaysia offer smoothie bowls but they’re made with greek yoghurt. Simply remove the yoghurt and you’ve got a 100% plant-based meal that tastes pretty much the same.
Scrambled Eggs = Scrambled Tofu
Instead of scrambled eggs, make scrambled tofu. The tofu needs a little more seasoning than an egg but otherwise all the ingredients can be kept the same. The result isn’t the prettiest so you might want to keep some fried onions aside to serve on top and garnish with a sprig of time or spring onion. If you don’t have access to tofu, simply remove the tofu from the recipe below and do miso mushrooms on toast but half the quantity of the miso paste.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp miso paste - a delicious pantry staple that even meat eaters will love
2 slices of toast
Heat the oil in a pan
Cook the onion and garlic
Add in the mushrooms and tofu.
Scramble the tofu in the pan
Stir in the miso paste, salt and pepper
Garnish and serve on toast
Chicken Salad = Chickpea Salad
To replace a chicken salad, make the same salad but replace the chicken with pan fried chickpeas. In our home we call it chick salad. Make the salad for both meals in the same bowl and just keep the chicken and chickpeas separate. When in the mood for carbs, I like to pair this one with roast potato wedges.
½ can chickpeas, drained
Optional: Pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds
Heat oil in a pan
Add the chickpeas, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin
Chop all the salad ingredients
Garnish with pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds
Serve with basic vinaigrette or a tahini dressing
Beef Stir Fry = Edamame Stir Fry
One of the easiest most delicious and satisfying meals for both meat and plant based eaters. The options with a stir fry are endless. For meat eaters, chicken, beef or duck are good protein options while the vegan can enjoy tofu, tempeh or edamame beans. Since edamame beans are the quickest, I’m going to include them in this recipe. You can usually find a bag of edamame beans in the frozen section of the supermarket, near the frozen green peas. This recipe is so flexible that each time I make it the taste is different - all the measurements and ingredients below are just a loose guideline.
1 tbsp oil (olive or coconut)
½ bag edamame beans
Noodles/rice - I love making mine with buckwheat noodles
2 tbsp soy sauce
Chilli to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tbsp Ginger, grated
Optional: Dash of coconut milk and 2 tbsp peanut butter
Add a splash of water to a pot
Add frozen edamame and steam for 5 mins on high heat
Heat oil in a pan
Fry the onions for 2 min, then add garlic
Add soy sauce, lime, ginger, chilli and pepper
Add carrots and broccoli
Add all other veggies + peanut butter
While that's cooking drain the edamame, leave to cool and de-shell
Add edamame to veggie mix
If you need more liquid along the way, add coconut milk
Mix noodles with veggies & serve
And there you have it, I hope ingredients like tofu, tempeh and miso paste haven’t scared you into thinking these meals are complex to make. I promise they aren’t. I’d love to hear what you think if you do make one of these dishes - drop me a message if you do ;)