Knowing that youíll be able to indulge in your favorite comfort foods is a large part of staying successful when youíre in the process of going vegan. So it wonít come as any surprise to those that know me that vegan tacos were high on my priority list when we first started exploring a plant-based diet. Here are some of the options you have at your disposal when making vegan tacos part of your familyís menu plan.
STEP ONE:† CHOOSE A VEGAN TACO FILLING
Until now, you may have thought your only non-beef options were shrimp tacos, or those filled with chopped chicken or cooked ground turkey. The truth is, there are a number of full-flavored solutions for vegan taco filling.
Lentil Tacos Are Meatier than You Might Think
If you want loads of fiber in your vegan tacos, then you may want to consider brown lentils as your filling of choice.† They are extremely inexpensive, have a similar color to ground beef and prepare easily in a stock pot or slow cooker. Just remember to add tomato sauce and traditional seasonings to your lentil tacos in order to maximize the experience.
Try a TVP Taco for a Hearty, Vegan Meal
If you want a shelf-stable vegan taco option that wonít break the bank, try making them with TVP.† Hydrated with a little Tamari, garlic powder and water, this texturized vegetable protein plumps up into a homemade version of those vegan burger crumbles you see various brands of at the grocery store.
Tofu Tacos Might Surprise You
Granted, a few years ago, I might have laughed this idea off as just shy of completely lame. During that time however, Iíve encountered several tofu recipes where the cooking method more than made up for any previous texture concerns. This Korean-Mexican fusion recipe for tofu tacos from Former Chef appears to be just such a recipe.
Bean Tacos Are a Healthy and Budget-Friendly Option
Similar to the lentil tacos mentioned above, bean tacos are incredibly filling and just as healthy. Whether you make them with black beans, pintos or even tiny seasoned mung beans, the result will be a vegan taco that will leave you satisfied for some time. The key to making them feel familiar is to season them as you would regular tacos.
Tempeh Tacos Make for a Stick-to-Your-Ribs Vegan Taco
While there are several vegan recipes used in our home that just wouldnít be the same without tempeh, the truth is if you are making a large batch of something for a meal that isnít a special occasion, you might find it to be a bit pricey. That being said, it is incredibly similar to ground beef and has a texture most meat lovers find favorable. Also, if vegan tacos are only something you make once a month or so and you have a small family, then the cost might not be much of an issue for you.
Want Vegan Tacos in a Hurry? Try Store-Bought Solutions
If time is of the essence, there are several store-bought solutions suitable for use as a vegan taco filling. Granted, most of the other ideas come from the store as well. For the purposes of this article however, this section deals with those grocery items that are lightning quick. Namely, the vegan burger crumbles from companies like Morning Star Farms and Boca, as well as canned beans and lentils you can put immediately into the pan with your canned tomato sauce and taco seasoning.
STEP TWO:† IDENTIFY TOPPINGS FOR YOUR VEGAN TACOS
Substituting non-dairy options for your vegan taco toppings is another major hurdle. Itís also nice to have some additional veggie items to include in the mix in case youíre out of lettuce or just want something different. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Go with Guacamole
This is actually our go-to option most of the time when we have a vegan taco night at home. Itís also what we do for other Tex-Mex food when sour cream would normally be used as a condiment. Now donít get me wrong. Iím not trying to say that guacamole tastes anything like sour cream. What I am saying is that you get a similar ďfull flavorĒ experience thatís comparative in taste quality without having to include dairy. I also like that itís something we can use that isnít a fake substitute for something else. Bonus? If someone with food sensitivities is coming for dinner, guacamole allows us to have a meal thatís also soy free. Not always easy, especially for new vegans.
Itís difficult for me to get Tofutti sour cream in my neck of the woods, although I can find it at Whole Foods when I feel like driving that far. Granted, itís one of those food substitutes that is rarely on sale can result in a cost increase for your grocery budget if you use it frequently. But if you want an occasional splurge, the flavor is pretty comparable.
Dairy-Free Shredded Cheese
There are several brands on the market, for those that feel they absolutely must have it on their vegan tacos. Find one that works for your family and use it for your vegan taco bar, as well as on pizzas, vegan nachos and more.
Flex Your Veggie Muscles
In addition to the expected chopped tomatoes, lettuce and onions, consider alternative veggies for your vegan taco add-ons. Organic baby spinach, sauceless slaw mix and chopped cilantro are all worthy toppings, in addition to roasted corn kernels, scallions and other items. As long as the flavors blend with your other fillings, youíre in business.
STEP THREE: TRY SOME TASTY TORTILLA OPTIONS
Itís getting to the point where there are almost as many options for tortillas as there are for vegan taco fillings. Spinach, tomato and multi grain varieties are all available in grocery stores, but there are simpler options available as well.
For those who enjoy a basic flour tortilla, making your own is a great way to keep vegan taco night fresh and exciting for the fam. Try whipping up a bulk batch of this dry tortilla mix to have on hand for easy use. Youíll be able to create a small batch of fresh tortillas in a reasonable amount of time. This homemade solution works well for those selecting the crock pot lentil tacos suggested above. Since most of the lentil prep time occurs inside the slow cooker, youíre left with counter space and time to† deal with freshly-made tortillas if you choose.
Large bags of premade corn tortilla mix are available in the ethnic grocery aisles of stores like Save a Lot, Sweet Bay, Hannaford and others. They are also fairly affordable to purchase premade. Popular with traditionalists and the gluten free crowd as well, corn tortillas are a nice, simple option for vegan tacos.
Go the Extra Gluten Free Mile
For those that prefer flour tortillas, yet still have to deal with wheat sensitivities, you may want to try out a recipe or two for homemade gluten free tortillas. Yes, they will take a little time. But if you find yourself regularly cooking for kids who enjoy the ďcreate your ownĒ dinner experience that comes with having a variety of toppings on hand, these tortillas will at least be more affordable than dishing out at the gourmet deli for the premade ones.
Hopefully, new and experienced vegans alike will find this comprehensive resource for vegan tacos helpful. No matter how far along you are in the transition process, itís nice to know that your favorite international cuisines donít have to be out of reach. As usual, Iíd love any additional ideas for things like vegan taco filling and bean tacos that any of you might have to share. So please feel free to sound off in the comment section below.