Cutting down on meat and dairy by moderating your daily intake of the two is connected to reducing your carbon footprint. In fact, cheese and beef are among the top three emission-heavy foods if you narrow in on production and post-production emissions. With that in mind, reducing consumption of these items has benefits, and some use these types of statistics to promote veganism and vegetarianism. A good way to ensure that you are indulging in an eco-friendly diet is to buy sustainably produced meat and dairy from a trusted farm or local shop.
Our Brightly Team and Scouts pooled together a recipe database of nearly 300 of their favorite eco-friendly recipes (with more on the way!). Below, you’ll find a taste of this database as we go through eight of our all-time favorite eco-friendly recipes. Access to the entire recipe database can be found at the end of the article. Happy cooking!
Eco-Friendly Breakfast Ideas
1. Vegan Pancakes
These pancakes are perfect for those looking to get a little more hands-on while making their morning meal. For this recipe, you’ll need:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup almond milk or dairy-free milk of choice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or sugar of choice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- More oil to grease your pan/skillet, if necessary
First, mix your dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside. Grab another bowl and combine your milk, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until well blended. Pour this mixture into the dry one and stir, adding toppings (i.e. chocolate chips, etc.) at this point if you wish. Leave your batter for five minutes, giving it time to fluff.
Now, oil your pan, and pour a drop of batter onto the oil as it heats up. Once the little batter splatter on the pan starts bubbling, your oil is ready. Use a ladle to pour your batter (about ¼ cup spoonfuls) into the pan. Cook each pancake until you see little bubbles forming on the surface. Then flip, cook until golden brown, and serve.
2. Smoothie Bowls
Who doesn’t love having ice cream for breakfast (especially if it’s healthy and guilt-free)? This decadent ‘Ntella’ smoothie bowl recipe will keep you happy and healthy for mornings to come.
This step-by-step video by @emilygracefood on Instagram guides you through the process of making your new favorite breakfast:
**Disclaimer: Avoid this recipe if you have a nut allergy.
Meatless Lunch Options
1. Vegetable Dumplings
This recipe is a bit more complex, so here’s a video guide to making the dough from scratch if you’re interested:
For the filling, you will need:
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- ¼ block firm tofu
- 1 ½ cups green cabbage
- 1 medium carrot
- 4-5 cremini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ tsp ground ginger
Put all your filling ingredients except the soy sauce, minced garlic, and ginger into a food processor. Then sauté this mixture and add in the remaining three ingredients. Roll out your dough, then fill with ½ a tablespoon of stuffing, and fold your dumplings (for more details on how to do this, click here).
Steam them for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the dumplings to a sauté pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. Line a plate with a paper towel to collect any excess oil. Place the dumplings on the plate and serve.
2. A Caprese Sandwich
Sometimes, all it takes to have a satisfying, delicious lunch is a simple sandwich. This mozzarella and tomato sandwich is the perfect simple sandwich option. All you’ll need is:
- 2 slices of bread
- 4 slices of fresh mozzarella
- 2 large slices of tomato
- 2 fresh basil leaves
- Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
Grab your bread and coat it with as much pesto as you desire. Then add your mozzarella, tomato slices, and basil. Put it into a sandwich press if you have one. Finally, drizzle some balsamic on top (if you want) and enjoy. Note that you can also make a salad using most of these same ingredients. All you have to do is eliminate the bread and add olive oil and salt on top of your sliced mozzarella and tomatoes instead of pesto.
Hearty Plant-Based Dinners
1. Homemade Chickpea Veggie Burgers
This recipe is quick, easy and leaves you with great, long-lasting leftovers. All you do is use a food processor or blender to combine:
- 2 cups canned chickpeas (or black beans if you prefer)
- 1 stalk celery, small diced
- 1 small carrot, grated
- ½ onion, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper, or more to taste
After all the ingredients are blended together, begin forming your circular patties (the thickness should be about that or a regular hamburger patty). Put these aside. Grab a pan and line the bottom with oil. Wait for it to heat up and then fry your patties, flipping them after they hold together nicely and have gained a golden color. Serve with any toppings you like and enjoy.
2. Homemade Pizza
You can’t go wrong with pizza. Plus, given its customizable nature, it’s easy to make it vegan. For this recipe, you will need:
- 7g of yeast
- 325 ml of lukewarm water
- 500g of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp of salt
The directions are as follows: dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the flour mixed with 1 tsp of salt. Mix until it forms a ball. Knead the dough by hand and add flour as necessary if it sticks. Split into four even balls. Cover with a damp cloth for 2 hours to let it rise.
Then take one of the four dough balls, stretch it onto a pizza dish or baking sheet, and add passata for the base with a little olive oil and salt. Add grated cheese or mozzarella balls if you prefer and cook in your oven at around 350 °F for 10-13 minutes. Add basil on top and dive in.
1. Buckwheat Almond Crust Tart
This recipe is for bakers interested in adding a new unique vegan recipe to their repertoire. We have to warn you though, sweet potatoes are involved. For this recipe, you’ll need:
- 1 cup rolled or steal cut oats⠀
- 1 cup raw buckwheat groats⠀
- ½ cup almonds chopped (used flaked and slivered ones)⠀
- 2 tbsp coconut butter⠀
- 3 tbsp agave or maple syrup⠀
- 1 tsp maca powder (optional)⠀
- ½ tsp pure vanilla powder⠀
- 1 pinch salt⠀
- Chocolate Ganache⠀
- 2 cups cubed and steamed sweet potato⠀
- ¼ cup melted cocoa paste (or cocoa butter)⠀
- 1 cup almond milk⠀
- ½ cup agave syrup⠀
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar⠀
- ½ cup cocoa powder⠀
- tiny pinch of salt⠀
- 1 tsp lemon juice⠀
- ½ tsp burbon vanilla powder⠀
- 1 tbsp cashew butter⠀
For the complete directions checkout the Instagram post by @letscookvegan here:
**Disclaimer: Avoid this recipe if you have a nut allergy.
2. Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Pound Cake
For less experienced bakers, this banana pound cake is a gem. All you need is:
- 4 ripe bananas, mashed
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup oat milk
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 °F. Mix the dry and wet ingredients in two separate bowls. Then combine them and pour the mixture into a lined cake pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Enjoy.