It may still be debatable whether eating meat is living in accord with the Buddha’s teachings (see Are Buddhists Vegetarian or Vegan?). However, there seems to be a growing sentiment that a vegetarian or vegan diet is more in line with keeping with the Buddhist values of non-violence and wanting to reduce the suffering of the world. Many prominent Buddhist teachers are now actively encouraging their followers to adopt a vegetarian diet. Even Tibetan Buddhist teachers, who have grown up almost exclusively on meat, are inspiring others to eat more vegetarian food.
If you’re considering changing to a vegetarian diet, often the most daunting task is deciding what meals to make to replace your non-vegetarian ones. Most of us have grown up on a non-vegetarian diet, with the meat making up the majority of the meal. So what are we meant to eat if we remove the centerpiece of the meal and the portion that normally fills us up? Being confined to eating only salads for the rest of our life is usually not very appetizing.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced has been finding vegetarian recipes that are easy to prepare and use ingredients that I’m already familiar with. Cookbooks are full of lovely pictures, but the recipes always seem to have at least one or two ingredients that I’ve never heard of, and they often mention using appliances and techniques that, again, I’ve never heard of! Needless to say, I don’t tend to look at recipe books anymore. I’d much rather look over the shoulder of someone cooking and learn this way, but of course that can take time.
The good news is that these days you can find many short demonstrational videos often less than 2 minutes long on Facebook showing how to make simple, tasty vegetarian meals (as well as some slightly longer ones on YouTube). And the best thing is that they actually use common shopping ingredients with simple cooking utensils! So they don’t make cooking any more complicated than it needs to be. Hooray! For some of us, watching these easy-to-prepare meals might be the cornerstone for helping us to start making easy, tasty vegetarian meals at home that can please all the family.
Below are a handful of the short instructional videos that I’ve come across and saved. I’ve tried a couple of them and REALLY enjoyed them. In fact, I was so excited to come across a Tofu Bolognese recipe. I haven’t eaten spaghetti bolognese since I stopped eating red meat over 5 years, and I have really missed the taste. I grew up eating spaghetti bolognese, but it’s something I thought I could never enjoy again – until now! This tofu bolognese is seriously the best meal ever! I normally eat vegetarian food because my husband is vegetarian, but he cooks Indian food all the time and I personally love Italian flavors.
So without further ado, here is the recipe from The Buddhist Chef for the tofu bolognese.
Tofu Bolognese Recipe
I wanted to share with you a slight variation I made to their tofu bolognese recipe, which I feel made it even better. These were the ingredients I used (pictured below).
The recipe suggests using 450g of tofu (we used 250g). We also added these ingredients: 1 tub x 140g tomato paste, 1 red and 1 green bell pepper (capsicum), 6 tomatoes (instead of bottled or canned ones), and 1 tablespoon of Thyme.
The recipe in the video above suggests using celery, but I found that the bell peppers (capsicum) gave it a really nice flavor. Actually, the bell peppers, thyme and tomato paste are what my mum used to use when she cooked spaghetti bolognese, so I wanted to include them. In fact, if you use the bell peppers, you don’t need to add the sugar shown in the above video. I have a really sweet tooth and our recipe tasted really sweet without adding sugar.
Some other variations we made were to fry the garlic after cooking the carrots, and we added the bell peppers at the same time we added the chopped tomatoes. Also, I only added a quarter of the soy sauce recommended. And we didn’t need to cook it uncovered for that extra 30 minutes; it was already cooked and thick enough after 40 minutes of cooking (10 minutes uncovered, 30 minutes covered). Actually the second time we tried making this I blended the tomatoes thinking it might cut down on the time they took to soften, but it actually added more cooking time because there was more liquid so it took longer to thicken. So my tip would be to add chopped tomatoes if you want to reduce your cooking time.
And this is how it turned out!
It was SO delicious! I didn’t miss the red meat at all. With the ingredients we used (remember 250g tofu) we were able to make enough dinner for two and have some left over for lunch the next day.
Of the other recipes, I’ve also tried these Ratatouille Boats.
Ratatouille Boats Recipe
This was really tasty too, but it seemed to take a lot longer to cook. I didn’t quite get the zucchini right as I had the oven fan on the wrong setting, and I found the mozzarella too overpowering. So in the end, I ate the ratatouille with rice instead, which was actually really tasty. I think it would have tasted great with cubed tofu as well.
I’m yet to try the rest of the recipes below, but they all look great. I think I need to try the Lentil ‘Meat’ Balls next! Let me know if you try any of them out, I’d love to hear which ones you enjoyed.
Happy vegetarian/vegan cooking and eating everyone!
P.S. A lot of the meals shared here are actually vegan. I used to think of vegan meals as being tasteless, boring, cardboardy meals. But I’ve been happily surprised to have my misconception blown out of the water! It has certainly made it much easier to add more vegan choices to my diet. After recently learning about what happens to baby male chicks in the egg industry (can you believe they put them through a grinder while they’re alive!), I would love to make a vegan diet work for me.
If you know of any great video recipes for easy, tasty vegetarian/vegan meals, please share the links below. I’d love to check them out!
P.P.S. If you would like the written recipes, just click on title above the video. Where indicated, some recipes are posted in the comments of the video.
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe (in the comments of the video)
One-Pot Basil Pasta Recipe (in the comments of the video)
Enchiladas Recipe (another alternative)
Quiche in a Sweet Potato Crust Recipe
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