Vegan cooking 101 | Mastering the basics

Hello everyone!

I have eaten a mostly vegetarian diet my whole life and have been an ethical vegan for the last eight years. Today, I'd like to provide some vegan cooking tips for beginners. Whether you're a seasoned chef or just starting out in the kitchen, vegan cooking can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. You can benefit animals and the environment while improving your health simply by eating a plant-based diet. So let's get started!

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Essential ingredients for vegan cooking

The great news is that many of these ingredients are readily available and can be found in your local grocery store. First and foremost, stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. These will form the foundation of your vegan dishes and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Don't forget to include leafy greens like spinach and kale.


Next, make sure to have a selection of whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats. These grains are both nutritious and versatile. Grains can be used in a wide range of recipes. Besides, legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and black beans are excellent protein sources. Soups, stews, and even burgers may be made using legumes. 


To add flavour and depth to your dishes, keep a variety of herbs and spices on hand. Some must-haves include curry, paprika, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Lastly, don't forget about healthy fats. Stock up on avocados, nuts, and seeds, which can be used as toppings or incorporated into dressings and sauces. With these essential ingredients, you can create delicious and nutritious vegan meals. 


Beginner-friendly vegan recipes


Whether you're new to veganism or want to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet, these recipes will satisfy your taste buds. 


Let's start with a classic favourite: vegan spaghetti bolognese. Instead of using ground meat, use lentils as a flavorful substitute. For every 500g of ground beef, you can substitute 150g of dried, uncooked lentils. The result is a hearty and satisfying dish that even non-vegans will love. 


Another easy recipe to try is a chickpea salad sandwich. Mash up some chickpeas, add your favourite veggies and seasonings, and spread it on whole grain bread for a quick and nutritious lunch. This is also perfect for a vegan Maltese "ftira biż-żejt"!


If you're craving something sweet, how about some vegan banana pancakes? Just blend ripe bananas, oats, and plant-based milk. Cook them up like regular pancakes. Top them off with fresh fruit and maple syrup for a delicious breakfast. 


Time-saving tips for meal prep


Meal prep can be a game-changer. Not only does it save you time and effort during the week, but it also ensures that you have healthy and delicious meals ready to go. Here are some time-saving tips to help you streamline your vegan meal prep. 


First, plan your meals in advance. Take time each week to decide what recipes you'll make and create a shopping list accordingly. This will prevent last-minute trips to the grocery store and help you stay organised. 


Next, batch-cook your ingredients. Prepare large quantities of staples like grains, legumes, and roasted vegetables that can be used in multiple dishes throughout the week. This way, you'll have a solid foundation for quick and easy meals. 


Another tip is to invest in quality storage containers. Having a variety of containers in different sizes will make it easier to portion out your meals and keep them fresh. 


Additionally, consider preparing your ingredients ahead of time. Chop vegetables, wash greens, and marinate tofu or tempeh in advance. Then, when it's time to cook, you can assemble and go. 


Lastly, don't forget about freezer-friendly meals. Soups, stews, and casseroles can be made in large batches and frozen in individual portions for future use. By doing so, you'll always have a back-up meal on hand for those hectic days. 


How to substitute animal products in your favourite dishes


If you're switching to a plant-based diet, you might wonder how to replace animal products in your favourite foods. Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious alternatives available. 


Let's start with dairy products. Instead of cow's milk, you can use plant-based milks like almond, coconut, rice, hemp, oat, or pea milk in your recipes. These milk alternatives can be used in baking, cooking, or as a beverage. 


If you love cheese, several vegan options melt and taste like the real thing. Those cheese alternatives are made from nuts, soy, coconut, or tapioca starch. You can find vegan cheese blocks, slices, shreds, and spreads at most grocery stores. Also, nutritional yeast (nooch) has a nutty, cheesy flavour comparable to the taste of parmesan. Nooch is a staple in the vegan pantry!


For eggs, you can use ingredients like mashed bananas, applesauce, aquafaba, or flaxseed mixed with water as a binding agent in baked goods. These substitutes work well in recipes like muffins, cakes, and cookies. 


If you're craving meat, there are numerous plant-based alternatives available. You can try tofu, tempeh, seitan, or even jackfruit as a replacement in dishes like stir-fries, tacos, or sandwiches. These options provide a similar texture and can be seasoned and cooked to mimic the flavours of meat. 


Finally, for those who love seafood, there are plant-based alternatives for fish and seafood dishes. Vegan fish fillets, prawns and crab cakes produced from soy protein or konjac root are available. These alternatives offer a similar taste and texture without harming marine life. You can still enjoy your favourite dishes while embracing veganism. 



Whether you want to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle or incorporate more plant-based meals into your routine, now you know where to start. Happy cooking!


Talk soon,



I'm a vegan with a passion for sustainability and clean, cruelty-free products. I mainly write lifestyle, wellness and self-care articles. Since I'm a true crime enthusiast, sometimes I also write about true crime and post videos on my two YouTube channels.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! If you ask a question I will answer it asap. – Cosette

  1. I've been 80% vegetarian for almost 10 years and I've always wondered how vegans do it because I could never abandon cheese :D I do enjoy vegan food, but have no idea how to cook it myself, so this article was an eye-opener. The chickpea-sandwich is going on my lunch menu right now!

    Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog

    1. That's great! In my opinion, vegan cheese has gotten significantly better in taste and texture in recent years.

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