How to Plan Vegan Meals When Meat is No Longer the Center of the Meal

It took me a little bit of time to understand how I should plan our meals without meat being the center of it.

Before starting this journey, I always saw dinner as:

Meat + Vegetable + Starch + A piece of fruit (ocassionally) 

The idea of not having chicken, steak or fish as the center of a meal left me wondering what to put in its place.

How the heck should you plan delicious and filling meals that you family will actually eat without the meat?

Think of it like this - protein aka "what most of us think of as meat" is still the center of your meal. You will now replace the beef, chicken & seafood with a plant-based alternative that is better for you. 

Once you start a vegetarian or vegan journey, the meat portion of the meal is now tofu, tempeh, quinoa, eggplant, vegan sausage (like this brand), vegan chicken or taco meat made out of walnuts.

This shift can seem overwhelming, but I promise it will get better as you start meal planning for your family.

To put it in perspective, here are 5 different vegan dinners with protein still being the center of the meal:

Lentil Soup with rice and a side salad - lentils are the center of the meal and is a great source of protein

Vegan Fried chicken, mac & cheese & steamed broccoli vegan chicken (this one is a Gardein soy product) is the center of the meal and is a great source of protein

Taco salad with pico de gallo, guacamole, romaine, vegan sour cream and cilantro The "meat" in this taco salad is made out of walnut & sun-dried tomatoes; which is the protein center of this meal

BBQ tofu, rice & broccoli - Tofu is the protein center of this meal 

Chili, vegan Texas toast & steamed vegetables or a side salad - Kidney beans is the protein center of this meal 

As you can see, you're still following the meat + vegetable + starch formula but in a more compassionate, plant-based way.

It's all about shifting your mindset and seeing where the protein is in your meal.


Here's a chart with several more plant-based sources of protein

I hope this is helpful!