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Vegetarian and Vegan Meal Ideas for Meat-Lovers / Meatatarians

So I am a bit of a meat-lover. I know it sounds like I am not, but I really do enjoy eating it when it is good quality.

That said, it is not something I eat for every meal, and about 90% of my meals are vegetarian, if not vegan.

I’d call myself a flexitarian.


Julie wrote in to one of my In the World of Save. Spend. Splurge. roundups asking:

So glad to hear about cheating vegetarians. Can you share what’s a typical weekly meal plan for your family?

And what are you go-to meals for Baby Bun?

We’re trying to eat a bit less meat in our household and could use some ideas.

I’m struggling because hubby needs his meat to be full, so what are some good alternatives to keep hubby happy. 

So my typical weekly meal plan is the same meal all 5 days of the week for lunch, and Baby Bun gets variations on that meal because one week we’ll do beans, the next something else, and we freeze one or two meals from previous weeks so that he doesn’t eat the same thing every day.

He gets bored if it’s the same meal and then riots by refusing to eat it at the daycare or at home, and throwing a little toddler snit fit because he doesn’t understand how busy Daddy and Mommy are to not be able to cater to him like some restaurant.

That said…

I’d rather give you ideas than actual meal plans, and then you can vary between them.

I’d also like to point out that if you MUST eat meat all the time, for every meal, consider eating less. You don’t need a 32 oz steak.. honestly if you think of meat and seafood as flavouring for your meal (10% of your plate), you’d be better off versus seeing it as 75% of your plate.

So cheese, mushrooms, eggs, eggplant, potatoes, and savoury sauces made from tomato paste and soy sauce will be your best friends.

Or at least, they are mine in times of vegetarianism.

For cheese, I don’t like going too heavy on it, it is hard on your body. I’d say a light dusting of Parmesan (the real stuff) goes a long way or some really flavourful blue cheese (Roquefort) if you are into that stuff, and then of course, mozzarella or good cheddar.



Put everything on there except meat. You won’t need it. Use sweet potatoes if you don’t mind a little sweet tang, or.. MUSHROOMS. Margherita pizzas are classic and vegetarian but I have a soft spot for wild mushroom pizzas.


Make it hearty with beans, lots of tomatoes and tomato paste, and don’t add beef (you won’t even really miss it to be honest).

Mushroom pot pie

Again, anything with mushrooms like oyster mushrooms, shiitake, will be sure to be tasty and a big hit.

Roasted or BBQ vegetables

A good hard roast on vegetables tends to be very satisfying. You get a nice slight crisp, a slight savoury crunch and it makes things taste so good. I like roasting sweet potatoes, turnips, beets and potatoes.

A BBQ of vegetables is good too, that BBQ smokiness tends to make things taste meatier or more filling I’d say. I like BBQ’d zucchini with a touch of salt. I could eat a bucket of it.

Burritos with lots of guacamole

Guacamole solves most problems in this case. If you make it flavourful with lemon juice, seasonings, tomatoes, cilantro.. and then put it on brown rice in a burrito with black beans, some chunks of tofu (if you kind of want a sort of meat-ish addition) and some mushrooms, it’s perfection.

Curries and Samosas

Go Indian. Indians know how to rock vegetarian food like no other. They have such a strong command of spices that curries will make you forget there is no meat and beans or lentils instead! I especially love potato samosas.


Eggplant pasta

If you are able to cook eggplant without making it mushy, and you put it in a spaghetti pasta with a tomato (or tomato cream) sauce, it will taste like there’s meat in there from the eggplant.

Noodles with vegetables and a cracked barely cooked egg on top

Stirfry noodles with vegetables, or eat Japanese-style noodles (ramen, somen, udon), and put some soy sauce on it with some grilled vegetables. I always like to add an egg at the end and make it barely cooked. Or I poach the egg or super soft boil the egg, and then split it on top, add some green onions and call it a day. Nommy.

I also like adding strips of roasted, seasoned seaweed on top. I could eat that stuff by the bucketful. It’s great as a crispy, super healthy garnish but is 100% vegan.

Potato gratin

Very French. Sliced potatoes with milk in between, with a touch of cheese on top. Super filling.


I love this cool tomato soup when it’s done well. Roasted tomatoes with fresh ones, and breadcrumbs blended into a smooth puree, topped with some basil, olive oil drizzle to give it oomph.


Chickpea and potato cakes

You can also google “latkes”.. I love chickpea and potato cakes.I grate potatoes into a big bowl with cooked chickepeas, mash it all together, add spices, and then make little patties out of them and fry it.

You can even use those cakes in between two buns and make it into a ‘burger’..

Black or pinto bean burgers

There is a killer recipe out there with corn and blackbeans, I am sure. I know this, because I ate a vegan burger the other day and it had blackbeans in there instead of meat and it was delicious, I didn’t miss the meat at all. I just couldn’t get them to give up the recipe but give it a shot on your end by Googling recipes.

Mushroom burgers

I have had two kinds, the shiitake BBQ mushrooms made into a patty and then eaten as a burger, or the whole Portobello mushroom cap grilled as the “burger” after it was cooked.


Put eggplant in it and/or mushrooms, add cheese, bake with some pasta and it’s nommy.


Roasted onion & red pepper mac and cheese

Roast those red peppers with some rosemary, and make some mac and cheese with it.

Onion soup or tarts

When onions are cooked down or caramelized, the taste is unbelievable. Put that on a tarte with other vegetables, or make the classic French onion soup and you can’t go wrong.

Congee (rice soup)

I like cooking rice down until it breaks and the starch releases a creamy texture (kind of like an Asian risotto), then I crack an egg in there, and/or add vegetables at the end, with a little drizzle of soy sauce, topped with green onions and some shaved scallions.

Battered parsnips

OK so deep fried stuff is not great for you but there’s this awesome recipe I am sure is out there of battered parsnips.

You create a batter (with or without egg), and then dip parsnips (cooked ones) in there, then fry it. SO GOOD. I eat it with white rice.

Don’t ask why. I treat it like a piece of ‘meat’, put some rice beside it, add some roasted veggies and done!

Any other vegetable-friendly ideas out there? Leave ’em in the comments for Julie!


  • Morgan

    I eat vegan most of the time (vegetarian when I eat out with friends) and my husband has been vegan for over 10 years. We cook vegan food at home, and I have to say I’ve got a few new meal ideas from your post. Thank you!

  • Julie

    Thanks so much for the post Sherri!! Lots of great ideas that I can use. Sorry haven’t visited your site in a while, been so busy. I know there is RSS feed, how does that work? lol

    Reading the above comments, I do want to look into tofu a bit more… if you find good non gmo tofu, let me know.

  • Xin

    I’m a total meat-lover, though I have a few low-meat dishes in my repertoire, all of them tofu-based. I really like Korean soondobu jigae and Chinese mapo tofu, and I’ve developed my own recipes for those that work well for me. I’ve also tried to reduce my meat intake when I do eat it. I was never great about portion control when I was younger, but now I try to stick as closely to a deck of playing cards sized serving whenever I do have meat as a main dish.

  • Sarah

    Great post! Thank you Sherry

  • Corianne

    I like to get my tofu fresh from the Asian store – can’t stand the tofu you find in the supermarket! Plus there’s silk tofu, firm tofu, smoked tofu… so many types.

    Congee! Yum! I love this Philippine congee called arroz caldo. Usually it’s made with chicken but I always make it without the chicken. It’s ridiculously easy and so great!

    I usually don’t eat meat either. It’s not a super conscious choice – I tend to cook Asian/Chinese meals and that usually is just vegetables and maybe eggs or tofu. Occasionally small amounts of meat for flavoring.

  • Sarah

    Flexitarian/Reducitarian here. My go to meat substitutions are: tofurkey sausages (Not really a low cost alternate, but they do go on sale), green lentils, or tofu. I find that they are typical low carb and high in protein. I’ve found that they are a good meat substitute in most dishes: pastas, stirfrys, curries, and salads. I am currently lifting heavy at the gym, so have a larger protein requirement.

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