Vegans and vegetarians both take a lot of heat from carnivores for not eating meat, but despite equal levels of derision they may experience, there are some crucial difference between the two groups.

In terms of dietary restrictions, neither group eats meat, poultry, or fish. However, vegans take things a step further than vegetarians and exclude all products derived from animals from their diet. This includes all dairy products, eggs, and honey.

If you’re concerned about protein intakes on vegan and vegetarian diets, rest-assured that proteins from plant-based products are just as abundant and effective as their meat-based counterparts. Chia seeds, quinoa, lentils, and leafy greens are all amazing sources of the nutrient (and they come without risk of clogged arteries). As long as nutritional requirements are met, both vegan and vegetarian diets offer an array of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease.

In terms of meat replacements, there’s a vast spectrum of options that are a far cry from tofu (Not that there’s anything wrong with tofu!).  Seitan, a wheat gluten-based food, is an amazing substitute, as is tempeh, a fermented soy-based food that’s less processed than tofu. Or you can splurge for a new high-tech Beyond Burger for a “fake meat that bleeds” option, which is perfect for a junk food-obsessed veg-head.

If you’re looking to make the plunge to a meatless lifestyle, be it vegetarian or vegan, the following recipes could be of delicious use along the way.

Teriyaki Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry

This stir-fry is hearty, healthy, and filling. It’s a quick and easy no-brainer loaded with lots of veggies. Get our Teriyaki Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry recipe.

Pad Thai

No matter what your diet entails, this classic Thai dish is perfect. It’s also incredibly adaptable; sub tofu for meat or eggs and you have a winner. Get our Pad Thai recipe.

Seitan Piccata

Let garlic, onions and lemon enhance the taste of seitan with this veg-friendly take on a classic piccata sauce. Get our recipe for Seitan Piccata.

Cajun-Spiced Tempeh Po’ Boys

A classic New Orleans sandwich made with a vegan twist. What’s not to love? Get our recipe for Cajun-Spiced Tempeh Po’ Boys.

Red Bell Peppers Stuffed with Seitan, Roasted Tomatoes, and Rice

With this recipe, you can fit an entire meal into a pepper. The sweetness of the bell pepper also complements the savory, cumin spice blend quite nicely. Get our recipe for Red Bell Peppers Stuffed with Seitan, Roasted Tomatoes, and Rice.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jessica is an Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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