Unlike when I was in high school, Earth Day is no longer that anomalous day when you recycle and teach your parents about how important it for them to pay attention to their carbon footprint (our what?!). But while there’s much more awareness about our impact on climate change, the relationship between our eating habits and the health of the planet remains confusing to many of us.
Far be it from me to make claims about how you should eat (much smarter people like Michael Pollan, in his book In Defense of Food, have already convincingly done that), but I can say one thing for sure: Eating as much plant-based food as possible is good all around.
So, this Earth Day, when the kids come home and lecture you about something new they learned at school, listen to them and share this back: Learning to love fruits and veggies is good for the planet, too. Then serve up one of these kid-friendly vegan dinner recipes and, if you want, use it as an opportunity to talk about ways you can all commit to eating more delicious plant-based meals all year around.
CME is an Amazon and rStyle affiliate | Top: Spinach Basil Pesto Risotto by Heather Christo at Pioneer Woman
Traditional pesto is a great way to add flavor to vegetarian meals, but is made with grated cheese. Not vegan. This Spinach Basil Pesto Risotto by Heather Christo at Pioneer Woman (above), though, is different. Packed with flavor thanks to spinach, basil, and lemon, you get everything wonderful about pesto without the dairy.
If your family isn’t used to eating vegetarian, much less vegan, start with something familiar like this Easy Lo Mein at Damn Delicious. This will remind the kids of Chinese take-out, plus it only takes 15 minutes. I’d call that a win-win.
Kate recently shared the One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta that she found at Apron Strings (which can easily be served vegan) and it has inspired me to search for every version possible of this magical one pot meal. This variation, the Vegan One Pot Pasta at Crazy Vegan Kitchen, is a super quick version of pasta puttanesca. Who needs cheese when you’ve got big flavor from black olives, capers, and artichoke hearts. So good.
If your family loves sesame or peanut noodles, give these Tahini Noodles with Carrots and Chickpeas at Love and Lemons a try. This is packed with other veggies, too (though I’d skip the radish for my little one), which easily makes it a one-bowl meal. And, if you like it as much as I think you will, be sure to explore more of Jeanine’s recipes: She serves up tons of mouthwatering vegan recipes that have major omnivore appeal.
When in doubt, serve meatballs! There’s just something about them that kids (and, uh, moms) can’t resist—even when they aren’t made with meat. This delicious recipe for Vegan Eggplant Meatballs at Skinny Taste is adapted from Mark Bittman’s VB6 Cookbook, a great recipe source if you’re inspired to try more vegan cooking (from an author who still eats meats). Gina serves them over zucchini noodles, but pasta is vegan—go for it!
If your kids already love tofu, these Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps at Weelicious will be an easy sell. If they’re not used to tofu, well, dinner in a lettuce leaf! If nothing else, these are tasty and fun. Serve with a side of rice if you’re worried that these won’t fill everyone up served alone.
My family and I are obsessed with this 30-minute Chickpea Shwarma Sandwich at Minimalist Baker. I have to admit that I usually serve this meal with a cucumber yogurt sauce. Stick to the recipe as written, though, to keep it vegan with a tahini sauce—I’m sure it’s delicious. In fact, this is on our Earth Day meal plan, as it is nearly every week. Quick tip: Go easier on the black pepper if your eaters are sensitive to spicy foods.