Easy Vegetarian Meals for Families

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, it makes sense that you would want to raise your children with a vegetarian diet as well. The vegetarian diet is very healthy, and in many ways it’s better for the planet as well. However, there are some challenges that can come with raising vegetarian kids. Here are some of the easiest vegetarian-friendly meals to make at home.

How do you go vegetarian

In the most basic sense, vegetarians are people who abstain from eating meat (pork, beef, chicken), fish, seafood and the flesh of any other animal. Some also opt not to eat by-products of slaughter, mostly out of respect for sentient life.

A vegetarian diet includes vegetables, fruits, grains, eggs, seeds, dairy products, honey, and nuts.

A vegetarian diet does not include meat or poultry, fish or seafood, insects, animal rennet or gelatine, and fat from animals.

Benefits of being a vegetarian

Health

People who are vegetarians have lower risks of heart disease and diabetes as the veggie diet is naturally low in saturated fat and high in fiber.

Environment

Going vegetarian is said to be one of the most helpful ways to address climate change. Eating a vegetarian diet means fewer carbon emissions (by 2.5x) than if you’re eating a meat diet. It also saves a lot of water as less water is needed to grow plant-based protein than protein from meat.

Animals

Related to environmental benefits, going vegetarian means lesser carbon emissions and water waste. An 8 oz of chicken breast, for example, requires at least 540 liters of water to grow. A vegetarian diet also needs 2.5x less land than growing hogs, cattle, and poultry.

Easy Vegetarian Recipes

Being a vegetarian, or wanting to serve meatless dishes for your family can be difficult sometimes, especially for the kids. Here are some vegetarian dishes that are balanced, healthy and also delicious:

Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of the easiest vegetarian meals that is totally kid friendly. It’s very satisfying and rich but doesn’t contain any meat. You can also easily make vegan mac and cheese with cashew cheese or other nut-based product. Mac and cheese is a great vegetarian option when you are dining out because many places have it on their kids’ menu.

Parfaits

This is a classic vegetarian breakfast that’s super delicious and healthy. Start with your favorite brand of yogurt (with or without dairy), and then add granola, fruit, and any other toppings you like. You can easily make these ahead of time and store them in the fridge, and they are also very portable, so your kids can take them to school. They are a great alternative to more sugary desserts, and they are completely customizable to your diet.

Veggie Tacos

Instead of making chicken or fish tacos, put your favorite vegetables and cheeses (or dairy substitutes) inside for a delicious summer dish. These are very easy to make and fun to snack on, and you can adjust the recipe to suit your child’s taste. If you want to include meat flavors in this dish, try jackfruit or other meat substitutes – your kids won’t be able to tell the difference.

Veggie Pasta

Instead of using the meat for your pasta, why not substitute it with tender cauliflower bites, broccoli bits, mushroom or more cheese? Not only will it make the kid’s favorite pasta healthier, but it’s also going to taste delicious. You may opt to use a white or red sauce with pesto and garlic to enhance the taste. This dish could also be prepped in 10 mins.

Vegetable Curry

Curry is always a great idea for both kids and grown-ups. It’s easy to make, flavorful and also great for stocking. To make preparation easier, opt to use ready-made curry paste, enhance the flavor with herbs and spices, and add your favorite vegetables in the pot including squash, potato, cauliflower, lentil, and even chickpea for an enjoyable family meal.

Pizza

Everybody loves pizza. A healthy pizza? Even better. Instead of usual toppings of sausage, chicken, bacon, and other meat products, use mushroom, roasted cauliflower, herbs, and spices, with some creamy base and cheese for that easy midweek meal for your family.
The best thing about pizzas – there are endless options and combinations for toppings that you can do and all of these can be prepped in just 5-10 mins.

Veggie Burger

This is one of the food that could never go wrong with kids. A vegetarian go-to recipe is to use spinach mashed with onion, nutmeg, cheddar, and breadcrumbs for the patty. Throw in some sweet tomato and hummus and serve with chunky potato or sweet potato fries for that tasteful meal that your kids will surely not be able to resist.

Veggie Stir-fry

Stir up a fresh bowl of egg noodles or wheat flour noodles with mushrooms, string beans, carrots, some green vegetables in less than 20 mins for a meal that your family will love. Add some soy sauce, scallion, and paprika for a sweet-spicy kick.

Chili Dip

Use different veggies to your liking to make this chili dip. A favorite option is to mix onions, scallions, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, black beans, and cheese. Pair it with tortilla chips for that meatless chili dip that’s a sure hit for a snack at home.

Cauliflower-carrot cheesy tater tots

Instead of using the usual potato to make tater tots, you may opt to use cauliflower and carrots as a substitute for that healthier, vegetarian tot. Use air fryer instead of deep frying to avoid all the oil too. Your family will thank you for a healthier, but equally flavorful tater tots.

Roasted Kale Chips

Kale is among the most nutritious plant food loaded with different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Toss some kale in the oven with herbs and spices for a flavorful and healthy snack. Dip it in cheese or stir into soup for a twist.

Barbecue-Flavored Chickpea Bowls

Combine some romaine and cherry tomatoes, with chickpeas stir-fried in barbecue sauce and black beans for this pita sandwich or bowl. Eat with fried sweet potatoes on the side or steamed corn for a quick and hearty food for the family. Substitute pita with pilaf for a fuller meal.

Wonton Soup with Mushroom-Zucchini “meatballs”

Instead of stuffing the wonton wrappers with meat, try combining chopped zucchini, mushroom and breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Toss the prepared wonton balls in clear miso soup and garnish with scallion and roasted garlic for a simple weeknight vegetarian soup.

Tofu and Veggies Lo Mein

Lo Mein is another recipe that won’t disappoint in taste even if you go ahead without meat for your vegetarian variation. Cook as you would other stir-fry noodles but add air-fried tofu and edamame for a double protein punch. You could add bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots for the main veggies and season with soy sauce, some sesame oil, and ground black pepper to taste. With this super tasty meal, nobody will miss the meat.

Paella with Tomatoes and Eggs

Paella need not be served with a variety of meat and seafood, another go-to weeknight recipe for vegetarians is to substitute the usual paella meat with rainbow vegetables that are not only healthy but also very flavorful. Asparagus, baby artichokes, beans, cherry tomatoes, peas, and summer squash are great for holding the flavor and handling cooking time. And did I say you can add eggs on top for a hearty paella? No meat required.

While raising vegetarian kids can be challenging, it gets easier with time. Once vegetarian eating becomes a habit, you and your kids won’t think twice about it. Serving meals that appeal to their taste buds is one of the easiest ways to get kids on board with vegetarianism. There are so many different options that kids love, and the great thing is you can easily switch out ingredients to make their favorite meals vegetarian.

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