Welcome to CraveVeggies!
I’m Karen Gibson, and I’m so glad you’ve landed here!
The purpose of CraveVeggies.com — and my simple goal for you — is to help home cooks incorporate more plant-centered food into their meals.
This is a vegetarian website, but you do not have to be vegetarian to use it. Whatever your veggie-strong goals — whether for one meal or a life-long change — I’m here to help. I have zero interest in preaching a particular lifestyle, or judging you for your choices, or shaming you on your fails (because, yo, I gots ’em, too!).
What I really care about is that you’ve made the decision to prepare and consume more veggies and fruit in a healthy recipe. If you’re just starting your journey, it can be hard, especially if your family is not completely on board. Food is visceral and emotional: we become deeply attached to what we know, and skeptical of the new and unfamiliar. That’s why creating meals that are both super-delicious and healthy, using familiar ingredients, is so important to me.
Through CraveVeggies, I’m devoted to providing plant-centered recipes and preparation tips, along with up-to-date and relevant information for successfully transitioning to or following a plant-based diet. You’ll find tasty dishes that are delicious and craveworthy to both the strictest vegan and the most skeptical carnivore.
And as you dive deeper into plant-based eating, I’m here to help you through things like vegan sour cream (it’s delish) and preparing tofu like a boss.
CraveVeggies is for you if:
– you want to learn to cook veggie-strong, meat-free recipes.
– you want to introduce more meat-free meals to your omnivore family, without freaking them out with scary-sounding things like bean curd.
– your college kid brings home a vegan friend, and you need reliable, crazy-delicious recipes, stat.
– your youngest decides to become a vegetarian, and you need help navigating the vegetarian food landscape (animal parts hide in the strangest places, like marshmallows, beer, and Worcestershire sauce).
– you know that vegetable-strong diets are healthy, but you’re just not a veggie eater (yet! #craveveggiesgoals), and you need help finding recipes that are comforting and familiar to smooth the transition.
– you’re already veggie-strong, but you need to up your cooking game, or you need a new source of inspiration.
All recipes on CraveVeggies are strictly vegetarian. That means that iffy ingredients, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano and sugar, that can go either way will be flagged for you with a note on sourcing vegetarian versions or using substitutes (such as delicious Vegan Parm). I live in a foodie city, so it’s easy for me find vegetarian ingredients, but that might not be the case for everyone.
While I in no way expect you to be a strict vegetarian, I want you to be confident that all recipes on CraveVeggies are 100% vegetarian. It’s super tough negotiating the food system today. Industrial producers are always seeking ways to cut costs, and that often means introducing strange filler ingredients or processes that (1) we would never use at home because they’re highly mechanized, and (2) are derived from animal meat, skins, bones, or organs.
But, again, I provide this information only in the spirit of knowledge-sharing and transparency. You have the right to make an informed decision about the food you eat — knowledge is power!
How to find recipes on CraveVeggies
The menu bar at the top of every page, as well as the recipe index, is always a great place to start!
First, a word about categories: Since all recipes on this site are vegetarian, it’s definitely overkill to have a Vegetarian category ;). However, there are sub-specialties under the vegetarian label that are worth separating out, and I’ve chosen to use lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegan, and WFPB (whole food, plant-based).
I know, whut-the-whut, lol. This might help:
– lacto-ovo vegetarian recipes including dairy products (cheese, butter, milk, cream, etc.) and/or eggs and/or honey.
– vegan recipes exclude any ingredient that is an animal by-product, so, no dairy products, no eggs, no honey.
– WFPB recipes are vegan and also exclude oils and added refined sugars.
All of my recipes will appear in at least one of the above categories, to help people looking for dishes that follow a specific set of guidelines.
A quick word about meat substitutes
Although some plant-based recipe websites reject meat substitutes (for among other reasons, they’re often highly processed), I’m fine with them, and you will find recipes using them on CraveVeggies.com.
In general, I don’t miss meat in my diet. I truly love vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains, so loading up my plate with whole foods is satisfying to me. However, meat substitutes do have their place. In fact, I’m not only not against them, but I believe they can help smooth the transition to vegetarianism (if that’s your goal), or even just a more plant-focused way of eating easier to stick to. And they can definitely help you get your family over that hurdle of vegetarian meals that seem too thin or lacking.
Why use meat substitutes? Flavor is not the only reason people enjoy steak, chicken, pork, etc.: texture plays a large role as well. Most Americans, and other western cultures, grew up consuming meat, so it’s what we’re used to, and the bulk it adds to dishes is what we expect.
In plant-based cuisine, we can handily compensate for flavor issues with the clever use of herbs, spices, acids, salt, and other seasoning techniques. But, what I’ve learned in chatting with vegetable-reluctant friends and family is that they believe they will miss the unique “chew” that meat adds to a recipe. I completely understand this. Now, meat substitutes aren’t the only way to get “chew” into a dish, but they’re useful options, and I’ll be adding lots of info about them, such as how to use them in recipes, what to buy, and who owns these brands (always an eye-opener).
Also, I love creating things from scratch, so be on the lookout for homemade versions of meat substitutes using non-scary, real food ingredients. 🙂
A word about substitutes in general
It’s important, I think, to emphasize that a vegetarian or vegan diet does not automatically mean healthy eating. Cakes, chips, ranch dressing, fudge brownies, and bread are all vegetarian — even Oreos are vegan — but switching your diet to focus on these foods would probably land you in trouble pretty quickly.
Likewise, simply switching to a vegetarian version of something to align with your goals does not mean it’s a healthier option. Most often, you’re simply trading one set of problems for another. Non-dairy milks are great examples. Giving up dairy is the right thing to do for many people, but when you switch to plant-based milks, a whole other set of issues crops up. Is your store-bought, plant-based milk loaded with sweeteners or carrageenan? Some even try to sneak in casein, which is a dairy protein.
It’s a tricky world out there: we all have to be conscientious shoppers and label readers.
But, as I mentioned above, I do love to make things from scratch, and condiments and sauces are no exception. Expect to find lots of easy-to-make plant-based versions of these favorites as this site grows.
A little more about me
I’m a life-long vegetable gardener and home cook, and I’ve spent my adult years creating meals that maximize the beautiful bits of food that pop right out of the ground (seriously, I never stop finding this miraculous, that a tiny seed grows into a huge plant that produces the lush tomatoes I adore).
I went vegetarian many years ago, in a split second decision, while cleaning out my freezer and discovering package after package of expired, frost-covered meat that had been overlooked for years. As an animal lover, it was a terrible personal moment: all those animals, wasted.
So, if you’re here looking to make a change, I’ve been where you are, and so have others. Let’s help each other, no matter our goals or our point in the veggie-strong journey!
Want to reach out? Follow me on social media, or email me directly at hello [at] craveveggies.com.