7 Plant-Based Meals the Whole Family Will Be On Board With

Even meat eaters will be excited about these vegan options.

Related To:

Food Network Kitchen’s LentilMushroom Meatballs.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©© 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, © 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

If there’s one thing kids love to do it’s ask questions — especially where food is concerned. Why do the peels of bananas get all brown and spotty? Why do some cookies puff up while other ones spread out? How is cheese made? The list goes on and on.

In my case, I love it; there’s nothing I’d rather talk about. In fact, my daughter and I talk about food, nutrition and cooking so often that when she was 5 years old and her pediatrician asked her what foods she usually eats she (adorably) replied, "oh, you know, proteins, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates."

Not surprisingly, her questions have grown increasingly thoughtful as she’s grown up. She’s 10 years old now and recently asked me a question that ended up turning our family dinner routine on its head. She asked me why I’m always telling her not to waste meat. So I explained to her the amount of water and natural resources that go into raising an animal for food — and the environmental impacts of buying meat from a large supermarket rather than a small, local farm. She thought for a moment and then asked me, "so why do we eat so much of it?"

The only reason I could think of was that it was what she and my husband were used to — so we made the decision as a family to start incorporating more plant-based meals into our week, especially at dinnertime. I almost always eat a plant-based lunch so I immediately had some great recipes and meal ideas in mind, all of which they’ve loved so far! So much so that they’ve started (excitedly) pitching me ideas for more meatless meals.

If you’re looking for some delicious ways to add more fruits, veggies, beans, seeds and nuts to your family’s plate, these recipes will make it easy. They’re chock-full of wholesome ingredients — and I can say from experience that they’re guaranteed to get everyone excited about eating less meat.

Lentil-Mushroom Meatballs (pictured above)

Who doesn’t love meatballs? Serve them with sauce over pasta, tuck them into a roll for a hearty sandwich or pile them high on top of rice and veggies for a complete one-bowl meal — however you choose to enjoy them they’ll always be a family fave!

Weeknight Cooking Light!

Weeknight Cooking Light!

Photo by: RYAN DAUSCH

RYAN DAUSCH

We’re big fans of garlic, cilantro and cumin in my house, so these chickpea fritters fit the bill. Best of all, they come together quickly and without too much fuss, making it easy to eat a meatless meal on a busy weeknight.

It’s impossible to say no to mac ‘n’ cheese, even when it’s made with vegan Cheddar — and packed with pureed cauliflower!

Vegan Lentil Chili

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

This chili is every bit as hearty and comforting as its meat-filled counterpart, thanks to lentils beans and veggies. Pile it high with your favorite toppings (I highly recommend pickled chili peppers) for a quick dinner you’ll make again and again.

Photo by: Matt

Matt

Want a simple solution for a family-friendly, plant-based lunch? This chickpea salad sandwich is a good stand-in for the classic chicken salad. Serve it on toast, tucked into a pita pocket or rolled into a wrap for a snappy midday meal.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Tofu sometimes gets a reputation for being bland but that’s not the case with this stir-fry. A piquant marinade gives it plenty of flavor. If you have younger kiddos or family members that don’t like eating anything too spicy, use a little less grated ginger and garlic chili sauce on the tofu.

FNK_BBQ-Pulled-Jackfruit-Sandwiches_H

FNK_BBQ-Pulled-Jackfruit-Sandwiches_H

Food Network Kitchen’s BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches for Food Network One-Offs, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

This recipe will have everyone fooled! Simmered in barbecue sauce, canned jackfruit looks just like pulled pork. Stuff it in a potato roll and top it with a bright, easy slaw and you won't even miss the meat.

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