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16 Vegan Recipes That Will Make You Forget Meat and Cheese

You won't miss it, we promise
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The verdict is in: Plant-based diets are more popular than ever, and with good reason. There's now convincing evidence that yes, bacon and hot dogs are bad for you — eating them and other processed meats in excess has even been linked to significantly higher chances of certain cancers. Evidence shows that choosing a plant-based diet can ward off high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even acne and wrinkles. At this point, it isn't really rocket science: Eating more fruits and vegetables, vegan or not, is definitely, definitely good for you.

Whether you're in it because you can't stomach the idea of, well...stomaching your favorite animals, or you're an environmentalist aiming to lower the CO2 emissions consuming meat produces, or, hey, if you're just after limitless clear-skin days and a svelte bod — going vegan, when done correctly, certainly has its benefits. But we're not saying it's not hard. No matter how many dollars you donate to PETA or times your good intentions pick up hemp seeds at Whole Foods, sometimes the scent of a burger or the sight of melted cheese on pasta (or bread...or broccoli...or tomato soup...or just a blob of melted cheese, really) can turn your vegan diet into a puddle of melted resolve.

That's where these vegan recipes come in. If you're craving animal products in a major way (as in, on your tongue), these vegan desserts, entrees and appetizers can satiate your desire. They're not just swaps; these vegan recipes are actually better than the real thing. Promise.

Image viaEnrique Díaz/7cero/getty

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger
2 cups mashed sweet potato (approximately 2 large sweet potatoes)
1 cup cooked salted black beans, rinsed and well drained (if unsalted, add more salt to the burgers)
1 - 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup walnut or pecan meal (or very finely chopped)
1/2 cup finely diced green onion
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar (for added sweetness)

For serving:
sliced avocado
sprouts, lettuce or parsley
sliced onion
barbeque sauce or ketchup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cut sweet potatoes in half. Rub with olive oil and place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake sweet potatoes until soft and tender to the touch -- about 30 minutes -- and set aside. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.

While potatoes are baking, cook rice.

Add black beans to a mixing bowl and mash half of them for texture. Then add sweet potato and lightly mash, then 1 cup rice, green onion, nut meal and spices. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add more rice or nut meal if the mixture feels too wet. It should be very moist but moldable.

Lightly grease a baking sheet and line a 1/4 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap. Fill the lined measuring cup with sweet potato mixture. Scrape down to pack, then lift out and transfer to the baking sheet and gently press down to mash. The thinner you press them, the faster they'll cook, but no need to go too far. Just a gentle press will do.

Bake burgers for a total 30 to 45 minutes, carefully flipping 20 minutes in to ensure even cooking. The longer you bake them the firmer and drier they will get - up to preference. Serve on slider buns (double stack for more bulk) or atop a salad with sliced avocado, red onion, greens, and ketchup or salsa.

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to a few days. Freeze for longer term storage.

Source: Minimalist Baker

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Country 'Meatloaf' With Vegan Gravy
Inarguably, one of the most difficult times to stick to your vegan guns is during Thanksgiving -- and a Tofurkey just ain't going to cut it. That's where this protein-rich, rice-and-vegetable alternative from vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli comes in.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 cups diced celery
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup cooked brown rice, warm
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Gravy:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup flour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large deep-sided skillet and sauté onion, carrots and celery until soft, about 15 minutes. If vegetables begin to stick, add a little bit of water to the skillet. Stir in garlic, thyme, basil and parsley. Let cook a few more minutes. Crumble the tempeh into the skillet and add soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Add warm brown rice and bread crumbs to the bowl and mix thoroughly with a large spoon. The more you mix it and mash it, the better it will hold together when you bake it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and pack it down very firmly using the back of a spoon. Cover the top of the loaf pan with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, covered, then remove foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before unmolding. Run a knife around the edges of the cooked loaf to loosen, then flip onto a serving plate to unmold. Slice and serve.

Golden Gravy:
In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion until soft. Add nutritional yeast and flour, and stir for about 1 minute. Add water, soy sauce, thyme and garlic powder. Continue to cook, whisking continuously, until mixture is very thick. Transfer gravy to a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Source: The New York Times

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Fluffy Vegan Dinner Rolls
Speaking of Thanksgiving, don't feel you have to give up all of your favorite traditional dishes. These rolls are every bit as fluffy and light as their non-vegan counterparts.

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Add the yeast, sugar, warm water and salt to a mixing bowl and mix. Mix in the vegan butter. Add the flour and mix using the stand mixers dough hooks for 10 minutes at medium speed.

Remove the batter from the mixing bowl, add more flour and knead it with your hands, adding more flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the ball of dough into a bowl, cover and leave for 30-45 minutes until it has roughly doubled in size.

Roll the dough into six separate balls and place them into a buttered round cake tin. Cover once again and allow to rise for 30-45 minutes until they have roughly doubled in size.

Place into a preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve right away.

Source: Loving It Vegan

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Chopped Kale Power Salad
Alternatives to your favorite non-vegan dishes aside, being vegan is really about cultivating a plant-based diet. And with a filling, colorful and flavor-packed recipe like this in your bag of vegan tricks, that won't be hard to do.

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (you should get about 5-6 cups)
2 teaspoons and 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch of curly kale, washed, stem removed and chopped (you should get 7-8 cups)
Juice of 1/2 a large lemon
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped red onion

Lemon Tahini Dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3-6 tablespoons warm water, depending on how thick you want the dressing

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. On a large sheet pan, toss together the diced sweet potato with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Bake sweet potato until fork tender, 35-40 minutes, flipping once.

Prepare the kale while the sweet potatoes are baking. Add the chopped kale to a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, juice of 1/2 a large lemon and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use your hands to massage the kale and make sure everything is mixed together, about 1 minute. Set kale aside until sweet potatoes are finished baking.

Make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a bowl and whisking until a creamy dressing is formed. Add the water slowly until desired consistency is reached.

There are two ways you can assemble the salad: You can add all ingredients to the bowl with the kale and mix until combined. Add desired amount of dressing to each individual serving. Or, you can add the kale mixture to separate bowls and evenly top with remaining ingredients.

Source: She Likes Food

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