Delicious Plant-Based Dinners

Anything I know about living vegan, I learned from somebody else. In this collection, I point you towards some people and places that I found useful when figuring out what to eat for dinner.

Dinner is the principal act of the day that can only be carried out in a worthy manner by people of wit and humor; for it is not sufficient just to eat at dinner. One has to talk with a calm and discreet gaiety. The conversation must sparkle like the rubies in the entremets wines, it must be delightfully suave with the sweetmeats of the dessert, and become very profound with the coffee.”

Alexandre Dumas

Or….. you can do none of those things and eat your dinner on the couch while watching Jane the Virgin, from the seat of your car or bus on the commute home which I did for three years, or skip it entirely and just eat a ginormous bowl of popcorn–something I do more often than is maybe normal.

The only requirement for a plant-based dinner is that you leave animals (both their actual body parts and their secretions) off your plate. Conversation that sparkles like rubies is extremely optional. As the Buddha probably once said, “Silence is better than bullshit.”

“Buddha Bowls”

Okay okay. That was a lazy way to transition into talking about Buddha Bowls, but here we are. Onwards!

When I first became vegan, grain bowls or power bowls–whatever you want to call them–gave me a foolproof formula to follow when I didn’t know where to begin. More than a year later, I still eat buddha bowls every other week and love coming up with new versions of the sorta same thing.

Buddha Bowls are a great way to:

  • Meal-prep a week’s worth of dinners in advance
  • Create nutritionally-balanced meals that are endlessly adaptable
  • Make use of whatever you have to hand in the fridge or cupboard
Late Winter Buddha Bowl, by Occasionally Eggs

So what exactly goes into a Buddha Bowl?

Buddha Bowls are more of a general blueprint than a specific recipe.

Typically, plant-based bowls include a grain, some form of protein, a variety of vegetables (cooked and/or raw), and a dressing of your choice. I like to add toasted seeds, a dollop of hummus, pickled vegetables or sauerkraut, and some micro-greens whenever I remember to sprout them in advance.


  • Brown Rice
  • Wild Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Bulgar
  • Millet
  • Farro
  • Wheat Berries
  • Cous Cous


The grains, seeds and vegetables in your bowl also contain varying amounts of protein, but I also like to add a generous helping of the following:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Falafel
  • Marinated Tofu
  • Marinated Tempeh
  • A plant-based meat alternative such as Field Roast Italian Sausages or Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo crumbled on top


Since becoming vegan, my meals are more varied, vibrant, colorful and beautiful.

Plants derive their colors from various phytochemicals found in them, and certain colors indicate an abundance of specific nutrients in a fruit or vegetable. For example, yellow and orange plant foods (carrots, citrus, pumpkin) are rich in vitamins C and A, while green fruits and veggies (spinach, kale, asparagus, avocado) are high in vitamins K, B and E.

Buddha Bowls are a great way to “eat the rainbow” and get a range of vitamins and minerals into your diet simply by eating a variety of colorful produce.

  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Radishes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

The list goes on an on. Here are some recipe ideas to get you started:

Vegan Buddha Bowl, by Simply CeeCee

Easy Does It

Buddha Bowls are just the beginning.

As you’ll soon see, I may have gone a little overboard in this jam-packed bumper-blog-post. I couldn’t help myself! Every time I thought I was done, I’d think of another dish I just had to include, and I found it so affirming to find so many delicious, nutritious plant-based dinner ideas. There truly has never been a better or easier time to embrace a vegan lifestyle.

There has never been a better or easier time to embrace a vegan lifestyle.


Speaking of which: many of the recipes mentioned in this post can be made in 30 minutes or less and are easy for beginner or busy cooks alike, but to make things even easier I figured I’d dedicate a section to some especially quick and simple meals.

Ready-Made Meals

I find cooking from scratch with ingredients I’ve bought in bulk to be tastier and less expensive than ready-made or frozen meals, but I enjoy cooking and have the time to do it. Not everyone wants to spend their precious evenings that way, or those that do may not have the luxury of wide-open evenings like I do.

Too, many people have nothing more than a microwave or a hot-plate to work with, and people with disabilities or depression may not have the physical or mental energy to always or ever prepare their own food, so I dislike when this option is framed as laziness or perceived as some sort of flaw.

Veganism isn’t about eating tasteless tofu nor is it about spending hours making elaborate meals with exotic ingredients. Veganism is an ethical response to violence and exploitation. However you express those values in the kitchen is up to you.

Baked Potatoes

Baked potatoes are easily veganized and take just 5-7 minutes in the microwave. Super simple and endlessly adaptable in terms of toppings.

Two Bite Vegan Baked Potatoes {Loaded & Tex-Mex} w/ @LittlePotatoCo Creamers - #vegan #glutenfree #potatoes #creamers #littlepotatoco
Two-Bite Tex-Mex Baked Potatoes by I Love Vegan
Drizzling Vegan Sour Cream onto a loaded sweet potato for a delicious plant-based meal
Cultured Vegan Sour Cream Recipe by Minimalist Baker

30 Minutes or Less

For consistently delicious recipes, Minimalist Baker is one of my go-to food bloggers. They’re no longer fully plant-based which is a bummer, but they have an incredible catalog of vegan-friendly dishes, all of which require 10 ingredients or less and/or 30 minutes or less to prepare. Here are a few of my favorites:

Cutting board with Kale Falafel Hummus Wraps made with pita bread and fresh greens
Kale Falafel Hummus Wraps by Minimalist Baker
Picking up a platter of our Grilled Corn Salad drizzled with Vegan Chipotle Ranch Dressing for a refreshing summer side
Grilled Corn Salad with Vegan Chipotle Ranch Dressing by Minimalist Baker
Two bowls of our Lentil and Black Bean Chili for a protein- and fiber-packed vegan meal
1-Pot Red Lentil & Black Bean Chili by Minimalist Baker

And if that’s not enough, here are some more quick and easy vegan dinner ideas!

No Meat & Two Veg

Buddha Bowls are the exact opposite of the “Meat & Two Veg” dinners I grew up on. These days, I mostly make one-pot meals like curries, soups and stews but, every so often, I’ll crave something resembling those childhood dinners of yesteryear.

In Ireland, it’s not uncommon for both of the two veg to be some sort of potato! Here are a few of my favorite spud recipes, followed by some other veggies sides and a selection of plant-based meat options for when you’re hankering after a comforting run-of-the-mill weeknight meal.

The Best Damn Vegan Mashed Potatoes by Minimalist Baker
Rosemary Roasted Carrots Recipe
Rosemary Roasted Carrots by Oh My Veggies


From plant-based pasta and bolognese to risotto and lasagne, there are so many vegan versions of our favorite Italian comfort foods to be found. Here are a few of my favorites.


On an average weeknight, I just heat up a store-bought jar of pasta sauce and call it quits. Make sure to read the labels though: dried pasta is generally vegan, but animal products make their way into the most seemingly unlikely foods; even a jar of tomato marinara can contain milk for reasons that are beyond my understanding.

Here are my go-to recipes for when I feel like cooking from scratch (plus a few more ideas for you carbaholics):

Lentil & Mushroom Bolognese by Lazy Cat Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese by Post Punk Kitchen
Dinner plate filled with 30-Minute Vegan Alfredo and topped with freshly roasted tomatoes
30-Minute Cashew Alfredo by Minimalist Baker


Risotto is another of my favorite comfort foods and, even before I became vegan, I always found the vegetable versions more interesting and flavorful. Having said that, I admit I spent a long time in comparison mode when I first eliminated cheese from my diet, and I couldn’t believe that a vegan version of risotto could taste good without Parmesan.

As I learned more and more about the realities of animal agriculture, however, my taste-buds and personal preferences became increasingly irrelevant. Veganized versions of our favorite foods can and very often do taste just as good or better than the meat, egg and dairy versions we’re used to. These days, I’m eating some of the best food of my life, but that really isn’t the point, and I wish I’d understood sooner that this really isn’t about me. It’s about them.

Caramelized Onion & Roasted Tomato Risotto by Connoisseurus Veg
Vegan Mushroom Risotto by Lazy Cat Kitchen


My go-to blog for plant-based Mexican recipes is Dora’s Table.

Born and raised in Mexico, Dora graduated culinary school in New York City and recreates traditional Mexican recipes as well as creating new vegan classics.

Check out her long list of Best Vegan Mexican Recipes, including these favorites:

Another great source for authentic recipes is Vegan Mexican Food, by the Food Empowerment Project–a vegan food justice organization that was founded by Chicanx and activist Lauren Ornelas.

More Mexican Recipe Ideas

I can’t guarantee they’re authentic, but I can promise you these plant-based Mexican meals taste damn good:

Two bowls of delicious vegan Black Bean Tortilla Soup topped with avocado and red onion
Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup by Minimalist Baker


Obviously, ‘Asian’ is too simplistic a term to encompass the diversity of cuisine in a region that is home to 48 countries. I guess what I really mean is Thai, Korean, Chinese and Japanese, but even that’s an oversimplification…

Sometimes it be that way, especially in a blog post that’s practically a novel already! In the absence of a better term, I offer you veganized versions of some classic noodle, curry, stir-fry and fried-rice recipes, plus some tips for transforming the blank canvas that is tofu into something as delicious as it is nutritious.

What To Do With Tofu


From Pad Thai to Pho and Instant Ramen, here are a variety of delectable vegan noodle recipes!

15-Minute Hot Oil Noodles (You Po Mian), by
15-Minute Chinese Hot Oil Noodles (You Po Mian) by The Woks of Life
Vegan Pad Thai with Yellow Tofu
Pad Thai Jay with Yellow Tofu by Vegan Miam


I mostly make Indian-style curries but increasingly I’ve been branching out and making other versions of vegan curries, like these:

Vegan Japanese Curry
Vegan Japanese Curry by Vegan Miam
vegan thai green curry pot
Vegan Thai Green Curry by Lazy Cat Kitchen

Stir Fry & Fried Rice

Fried Rice and Stir Fry are quick, easy and endlessly adaptable. Here are my go-to recipes:

Dinner bowls filled with our General Tso's Tofu recipe alongside broccoli and rice
General Tso’s Tofu Stir-Fry by Minimalist Baker
Two bowls of Almond Butter Tofu Stir-Fry with rice for a gluten-free vegan meal
Almond Butter Tofu Stir-Fry by Minimalist Baker
Bowls of our healthy fried rice with crispy tofu for a vegan meal
Easy Vegan Fried Rice by Minimalist Baker

Buns & Dumplings

Last but not least, here are some great Asian-inspired bun and dumpling recipes for the more experienced home cook.

vegan bao buns single
Vegan Bao Buns with Pulled Jackfruit by Lazy Cat Kitchen
Vegetable Dumplings, by
Vegetable Dumplings, a Healthy Potsticker Recipe by The Woks of Life
vegan char siu bao cross section
Vegan Char Siu Bao by Lazy Cat Kitchen
Tibetan vegetable momo served with a spicy sesame chutney
Tibetan Vegetable Momos with Spicy Sesame Tomato Chutney by The Curious Chickpea

Middle Eastern

Until I stumbled across Nada at One Arab Vegan, my knowledge of Middle Eastern food was essentially limited to hummus and falafel. Nothing wrong with hummus at all, but variety is the spice of life and I’m excited to branch out and try some of these new-to-me vegan Middle Eastern meals.

Apart from the delicious recipes, Nada’s blog makes fascinating reading as she writes about leading a vegan lifestyle in the Arab world and the stigma it faces in Middle Eastern culture. Plus she also introduced me to the amazingness that is caramelized onion hummus, cause you can’t have too many hummus recipes in my humble hummus opinion.

Vegan Kousa Bechamel by One Arab Vegan
Caramelized Onion Hummus by One Arab Vegan

More Vegan Middle-Eastern Recipes!


Before becoming vegan, I went through phases of being incidentally vegetarian–initially when I was a broke-ass student and again when I spent six months in India. Indian food is my very favorite and not a week goes by where I don’t make some sort of curry or Indian-spiced vegetable dish.

I’ve been cooking Indian food for years but it wasn’t until I became vegan and discovered the amazing Vegan Richa that I discovered some of the best Indian dishes I’ve ever eaten.

It’s hard to choose my favorites, but as I near the end of this verrrry long blog-post, I’ve narrowed it down to these five:

More Vegan Indian Dinner Ideas!

When writing this post, I stumbled across a couple of other bloggers creating amazing vegan Indian food.

Vaishali over at Holy Cow was born in Mumbai and has dozens of authentic plant-based Indian recipes that bring back great memories of my time there.

And Eva, over at The Curious Chickpea and who is half-Sindhi, makes a lot of Indian and Pakistani meals in addition to creations from other cultures.

A serving of Sindhi vegetable biryani
Sindhi Vegetable Biryani by The Curious Chickpea
Restaurant style chana masala served with garlic naan and green chiles
Restaurant Style Chana Masala by The Curious Chickpea
vegan palak tofu paneer with a drizzle of coconut milk and served with basmati rice and extra tofu paneer on the sie
Vegan Palak Tofu Paneer by The Curious Chickpea
vegan dal makhani with a swirl of coconut milk and garnished with cilantro served with a bowl of basmati rice
Vegan Dal Mahkhani by The Curious Chickpea
Vegan malai kofta (Indian dumplings in curry tomato cream sauce) in a kadai pot served with chapati
Vegan Malai Kofta Indian Dumplings in Curry Tomato Cream Sauce by The Curious Chickpea

That’s (Not) All Folks!

When I set out to compile a collection of plant-based dinner recipes, I had no idea it would be so long or that I would find it hard to stop!

I am excited and encouraged to realize the abundance and variety of vegan options available to us–the recipes listed here are truly the tip of the iceberg–and I hope that everyone from beginner to experienced cooks will find something to inspire and tempt them to try a plant-based diet.

Feel free to contribute your favorite plant-based recipes in the comments and continue the conversation–I’d love to hear from you!