05/14/2012 09:21 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

What to Eat Instead of Meat: 10 Veg Recipes to Satisfy Your 'Meat Tooth'

We all know that saturated fat, the kind we find in most meats, is linked to many of the "lifestyle diseases" that plague us in our modern world, resulting in illness that is crushing our health care system and breaking the back of our society.

And now with "pink slime," hormones, antibiotics and steroids in our meat, people are wondering more and more about what's really in our food.

On the other hand, we love the satisfaction of meat. Try some of these vegan options and see if you are not just as satisfied. Your body with thank you with better health.

Portobello Burgers with Guacamole
Makes 4 servings

Extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise into half-moons, from top to bottom
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Balsamic vinegar

2 avocadoes, halved, pits removed, mashed
2 plum tomatoes, diced
Juice of ½ fresh lemon
Generous pinch chili powder

4 whole grain burger buns, lightly toasted
4 romaine lettuce leaves
2 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices

Brush mushrooms with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Lay mushrooms in the hot skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cavity side up, and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, place a small amount of oil, onions and garlic over medium heat. When the onions sizzle, add a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

While the onions cook, make the guacamole. Combine the mashed avocado with tomatoes, lemon juice, and chili powder with salt to taste.

Spread the guacamole on the bottom half of each burger bun. Lay a slice of lettuce on the guacamole, add a tomato slice and then the portobello. Lay the top half of the bun on top. Serve immediately.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Makes 4 burgers

1 (15-ounce) can of black turtle beans, drained and rinsed well
½ red onion, finely diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and diced
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup silken tofu, pureed
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Avocado oil for frying
Romaine lettuce leaves for serving
2 tomatoes, diced
3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Mash the beans with a fork in a large bowl and mix in onions, garlic, hot sauce, red pepper, cayenne, tofu, and salt and pepper to taste. Fold in bread crumbs in small amounts to hold the burgers together (you may not need the whole cup). As soon as the burger mixture holds together, stop adding bread crumbs or the burgers will be too dry. Form the bean mixture into thick patties.

Heat about ½-inch oil in a deep skillet and fry the patties until firm, about 4 minutes on each side. You can also grill them over medium heat on a gas grill.

To serve, arrange lettuce leaves on plates with the burger in the middle of the leaf. Mix together the tomatoes, parsley and olive oil. Mound the tomato mixture in the center of each burger and serve.

You can also serve these in the traditional manner on a bun with the usual condiments.

Pinto Bean and Mushroom Burgers with Salsa
Makes 4 full-size burgers or 8 sliders

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
4-5 scallionwhole green onionss, coarsely chopped
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
3-4 sprigs fresh basil, leaves removed, finely minced
Avocado oil
4 whole wheat pita breads, split open
Dijon mustard
Romaine lettuce leaves
2 tomatoes, cut into slices
Handful of broccoli sprouts (optional)

Place oil, red onion, and garlic in a deep skillet over medium heat. When the onions begin to sizzle, add the green onions, a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, chili powder and chopped mushrooms, another pinch of salt and sauté until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.

Mash the beans with a fork or potato masher until well smashed. Stir into the mushroom mixture and add basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix very well.

Form the mixture into patties that are traditional burger-size. Heat about ¼-inch oil in a deep skillet and fry the burgers for 4 minutes on each side, turning once to ensure even browning.

To serve, split pita breads and spread one side with mustard. Lay lettuce leaves and a tomato slice in each pita. Slide the burger into the pita, top with sprouts and serve.

Chickpea Cutlets
Makes 3-4 servings/patties

1 cup cooked or canned organic chickpeas
2 tablespoons avocado oil, plus more for pan-frying
½ cup high-gluten flour*
½-¾ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
Spring or filtered water
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
½ red onion, finely minced
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon rubbed, dried sage
Corn meal, for breading

Place chickpeas and 2 tablespoons oil in a mixing bowl and mash to form a creamy texture and break the beans. Stir in flour and, breadcrumbs. Slowly add water, mixing, until a stiff texture forms. Knead for 2 minutes to activate gluten. Fold in garlic, onion, soy sauce to taste, paprika, and sage.

Form the mixture into 4 patties and dredge them in corn meal.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a flat-bottomed skillet. When the oil is hot, pan fry the patties, turning them once to ensure even browning and a crisp crust at the edges, 6-7 minutes per side. Turn them when the edges are browned and the patties are firm. Drain on paper and serve.

You can also bake these if you do not want to fry, but they are not as satisfying. You simply brush the patties with oil and bake at 375°Fo for 20 minutes; flip and bake 8-10 minutes on the other side.

*High-gluten flour can be purchased in natural food stores or online at Bob's Red Mill.

Wise Guy Chili
Makes 3-4 servings

Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
Sea salt
3-4 teaspoons chili powder (or to your taste)
Scant pinch smoked paprika
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 (32-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 squares dark chocolate (non-dairy), coarsely chopped
½ cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 cup dried pinto or borlotti beans, rinsed well
1 bay leaf
Spring or filtered water
Cracked black pepper
2-3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Place a small amount of oil along with garlic and onion in a soup pot over medium heat. When the onion begins to sizzle, season with a pinch of salt, chili powder to taste (it gets hotter as it cooks), and paprika and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in celery, a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Add chilies, tomatoes, tomato paste, and chocolate and stir well. Add quinoa, beans, bay leaf, and 3 cups of spring or filtered water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour or until the beans are soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for 3-4 minutes more. Remove bay leaf and serve garnished with fresh parsley.

Veg Head Pot Pie
Makes 3-4 servings

1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
Pinch sea salt
⅓ cup avocado oil or vegan buttery spread like Earth Balance
Cold spring or filtered water

2 cups spring or filtered water
4-6 small new or fingerling potatoes, unpeeled and diced, do not peel
½ head cauliflower, broken into small florets
4 medium carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
½ cup frozen corn
2 slices packaged baked tofu
⅓ cup whole wheat pastry flour
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Generous pinch rubbed, dried sage
Generous pinch cumin

Preheat oven to 425°F and lightly oil four 10-to-11-ounce ramekins, including the top rim.

Make the crust. Combine flour with salt and cut in oil with a fork to create the texture of wet sand. Slowly add water to create a crust dough that just holds together. Knead a couple of times; gather into a ball and wrap in plastic. Set aside while preparing vegetables.

Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. In the same water, cook cauliflower for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain and transfer to the bowl with potatoes. In the same water, cook carrots for 3 to 4 minutes.

Drain, reserving the broth, and transfer the carrots to the bow with the potatoes and cauliflower.

Reserve broth. Gently stir in zucchini, corn and baked tofu. Set aside.

Place broth on low heat. Combine flour with salt and pepper to taste, sage, and cumin. Whisk flour mixture into broth and cook, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour thickened broth over vegetables and mix gently to combine. Spoon vegetables evenly into ramekins.

Divide the crust into four equal pieces and roll them out to be slightly bigger than the ramekins. Lay an crust over the top of each filled ramekin and pleat the outer edges of the crust. Make four small slits in the crust to allow steam to escape.

Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling it bubbling, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

*You can purchase ready-made whole wheat pie crusts and cut them into the sizes needed for these individual pot pies or use the crust as they are to create full-size pies.

Tempeh Reuben
Makes 2 sandwiches

1 cup vegan mayo, like Veganaise
⅓ cup natural ketchup (no sugar or artificial additives)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
Generous pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons natural sweet pickle relish

Avocado oil
8-ounce tempeh block, sliced in half and then in half thicknesses, making 4 pieces
4 slices whole grain rye bread
2 slices vegan Swiss cheese
2-3 tablespoons natural sauerkraut

Make the dressing, adjusting seasonings to your taste. Set aside.

Place oil in a skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay tempeh slices in the oil over medium heat and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. In the same skillet, lay the bread slices with the cheese on two of them. Allow the cheese to melt as the bread toasts.

Remove the bread from the skillet and spread with dressing. Place two pieces of tempeh on top of the cheese. Spoon sauerkraut on top of the tempeh. Lay bread with melted cheese on top to close the sandwich. Slice diagonally and serve hot.

Philly "Cheesesteak"
Makes 4 sandwiches

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons from top to bottom
Sea salt
3 roasted red peppers, thinly sliced
1 pound package seitan, shredded
4 whole grain hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
1 8-ounce package vegan "cheese," shredded
Almond or soy milk

Place a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion, with a pinch of salt until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in roasted red peppers, season with salt to taste, and sauté for 2 minutes more.

Transfer to a bowl and wipe out skillet.

Place a small amount of oil in the same skillet. Sauté seitan, with a light seasoning of salt until browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe out skillet one more time.

Lay rolls, cut side down, in the oily skillet and cook over medium-low heat until the bread browns lightly. Remove from skillet.

While the rolls brown, make the sauce. Place cheese, enough milk to cover, and salt to taste in small saucepan and cook, whisking, until cheese is melted and the sauce is thick and creamy.

To assemble, lay rolls open, mound seitan, pepper, and onion on each and spoon cheese sauce over top.

Beefcake Stew
Makes 3-4 servings

1 pound seitan, cut into 1-inch cubes
⅓ cup arrowroot
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 red onions, quartered
4 carrots, chunk cut
2 parsnips, chunk cut
1 large can (16 ounce) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Spring or filtered water
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 cup frozen peas

Cube seitan. Combine arrowroot with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Dredge seitan in arrowroot mixture and set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy pot and pan fry seitan pieces until the coating is crispy, about 5 minutes. Add onions, carrots, parsnips, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Season lightly with salt and pepper and add water to almost cover ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes.

Add potatoes, adjust seasonings to your taste, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes more. Add more water, if needed to keep a stewlike consistency. Remove bay leaves, stir in peas, and cook 5 minutes more. Stir gently to combine and serve hot.

Egg-less Salad
Makes 3-4 servings

1 pound extra firm tofu, hand-crumbled
2 roasted red bell peppers, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small carrot, shredded
4 whole green onions,, diced
½ cup vegan mayonnaise, like Veganaise
2-3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combine tofu with peppers, celery, carrot and green onions.

Make the dressing by mixing mayo, parsley, garlic powder, turmeric, mustard, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir into tofu mixture to combine. Chill completely before serving on bread or crackers.