Vegetarian Comfort Foods That Won’t Make You Miss the Meat

Vegetarian Pot Pie; Aida Mollenkamp

Vegetarian Pot Pie; Aida Mollenkamp

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

America’s meat dependency deserves a break. Sure, meaty meals can taste great and satisfying, but eating less of it is a smart choice, both for your health and the environment. Eating less meat can help lower your risk of heart disease and your carbon footprint. But it can often be a challenge to figure out just how to transform your favorite meaty standards into enticing vegetarian alternatives that deliver on flavor and satisfaction. Here are several classic comfort foods and their vegetarian makeovers.

Instead of: Chicken Pot Pie

You might be surprised to find that chicken is not essential to a mouthwatering pot pie, as proven here.

Instead of: Shepherd’s Pie

Layers of spaghetti squash, lentils and vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes make this a five-star recipe.

Instead of: Meatloaf

Try:  Lentil Loaf 

Lentil loaf might scream '70s hippie, but Giada’s modern and elegant version will wow the meat-lovers at your table.

Instead of: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Roasting tomatoes brings out their rich umami flavor, while white beans give this dish filling protein and fiber. Or try pasta puttanesca, which features a tomato sauce that gets depth of flavor from capers and olives. While most recipes, like this one, use anchovy paste (making it a non-vegetarian dish), you could eliminate it.

Instead of: Beef Stew

Try:  Ratatouille

Root vegetables and mushrooms are the secret to making a vegetarian meal that’s hearty enough to stand up to a winter day. For alternative ideas, Emeril’s elaborate-sounding Portobello Sandwich with Mashed Root Vegetables and a Mushroom Stew sounds complicated, but really only requires 15 minutes of prep time. Or give this Moroccan-inspired Kidney Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Oranges a try.

Instead of: Grilled Fish

Nothing’s really going to be analogous to grilled meat or fish, but this is pretty darn flavorful and is a stand-out meal in itself.

Instead of: Chili

Veggie chili can be incredibly satisfying, in part because beans are one of the best meat replacements. They deliver protein, iron and zinc (just like meat), but then they add a heaping dose of fiber, which fills you up.

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