Magazine Recipes

Vegan Versions of Classic European Recipes


By Lora O’Brien

Let’s face it: Europeans are usually pretty uptight about their traditional foods. Pineapple on a pizza? Ha! An Italian will laugh you out of the room. Soya milk substitute for cream in a French mushroom soup? Mais, sacre bleu! 

While we get that classic recipes are prepared over the generations for a reason (i.e. they’re delicious!), the reality is that perceptions of health are changing thanks to our knowledge about food and its relationship to our bodies. Sure, the French may be thinner than Americans, but did you know their cancer rates are higher than those living in polluted China? Italians in the south live longer than those in the north – because their diets are lighter on the meat and dairy, higher on the healthy Med foods and olive oil.

Indeed, a bit of veganism never hurt anyone – or any recipe! So it’s with great pride we present some great vegan twists on classic European recipes.


It’s not easy to do French cuisine as a vegan. Cheese, meat, cream and milk are everywhere, even salads and veggie soups. And don’t even get me started on all kinds of nastiness like frog’s legs, foie gras, goose fat, and even horse meat. Aaggh! No wonder so many vegans find themselves eating nothing but bread when on holiday in France. But there are some variations of traditional French dishes you can make, like these below.

1. Mediterranean Terrine

This updated version of a classic French terrine brings back the flavors of summer in a way that doesn’t feel out of place on a harvest table. Agar powder, a vegetarian substitute for gelatin, is available at natural-food stores and Asian markets.

Get the recipe here.


2. French Lentils and Kale

This dish actually is pretty traditionally French in the sense that like most French dishes, this looks simple but actually has a load of ingredients. Most of them are spices, so prep time is pretty low – but vitally, this is bursting with not only flavour, but healthy protein, vitamins, zinc and selenium.

Get the recipe here.


3. Avocat Tartine

The open-faced sandwich or ‘tartine’ is sooo French. Mainly because it involves French bread, preferably a bit stale. You toast it, and then add a delicious topping, like avocat. Ok, ok, I’ll admit it – basically, this is avocado on toast. But nothing wrong with that!

Get the recipe here.



This is the Hollywood of cuisines; the Starbucks. The one that is truly found all over the world. Problem is, it has dairy in it. Like, everywhere. Think about it: pizza – mozzarella. Pasta – parmesan and cream. Eggplant – parmesan. It’s hard to escape. But Italian food is so beloved, there have been plenty of vegan spins on it – which would, of course, make any proper nonna roll her eyes and make loads of gestures with her hands, but hey, such is the price of saving the animals…

1. The Best Vegan Pizza

The first food I think of when Italian food is mentioned is pizza. I love pizza. The doughy base, the tomato base and the layers of hot, melted ingredients. But you may have thought that since ditching the dairy, you’ll never enjoy a decent pizza ever again. Well, think again! This pizza not only looks delicious, it also has vegan parmesan cheese, a garlic-herb crust, tomato sauce and layers of divine sauteed veggies – yum!

Get the recipe here.


2. ‘Creamy’ Carbonara Pasta

Traditional carbonara pasta is a favored dish by many, but it’s one that contains eggs, cheese and bacon, three foods you should definitely try to avoid eating if looking to clean up your health and food. And when you can enjoy the same dish in a vegan friendly way, why wouldn’t you? This recipe has all of the ingredients that make a carbonara great; ‘bacon’ pieces created from shiitake mushrooms, creamy sauce made with almond milk, nutritional yeast and lots of veggies and it even has parmesan cheese made from hemp hearts and nutritional yeast. And how gorgeous does this dish look?

Get the recipe here.


3. Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

Spag bol is another family favourite. Usually one that contains beef mince, it’s definitely not vegan-friendly. So I’m so happy Sami took the time to perfect this spaghetti bolognese with the use of lots and lots of veggies. Most spaghetti bolognese is kind of boring; just tomato sauce over spaghetti, not exactly a flavour explosion, huh? Well this dish certainly is. There’s onion, garlic, carrot and chunks of mushroom which work as a great meat sub due to their texture. And you can keep this fully vegan by taking the time to make your own parmesan cheese.

Get the recipe here.


4. Green Risotto with Mushrooms

I know, risotta isn’t usually green, right? Well this risotto is because it’s green from the spinach and herbs used in the recipe. It’s also topped with a handful of pan-seared mushrooms. This is a healthy risotto recipe for those of you that miss your Italian dish which is usuallt made creamy due to the addition of butter, cheese and even wine in some recipes, so this is definitely winning in the health department. And I think green risotto looks pretty cool . . .

Get the recipe here.


5. Green Minestrone

Green food means healthy food, and I love it. Especially when said greenness comes from the addition of spinach pesto! Can I get a hell yeah? This is a brilliant re-invention of a comfort recipe for many, and is packed full of ingredients that are not only good for us but taste delicious, too.

Get the recipe here.



Spain is famous for its tapas dishes, but whilst most people are under the illusion that tapas foods are just bar snacks or tiny portions of food, they’re a little surprised to find that tapas comes in different variations throughout Spain. A tapas can be a small piece of food or a larger portion that is more a meal than a side dish. Tapas dishes are typically served day and night in bars and cafes throughout Spain, and alternate from things like small chunks of tuna, olives served on cocktail sticks or slow-cooked beef with sweet potato puree. But as with many dishes, it’s so easy to turn even those meat and dairy recipes into ones that are vegan friendly, healthy and still holding their Spanish roots.

1. Petrifying Vegetarian Paella

I’m not so sure about the title of this paella dish as there’s nothing actually petrifying about the contents…puzzling! This popular Spanish dish usually features seafood and sometimes chunks of chorizo, but this paella is only full of good things, such as parley, chestnut mushrooms and peppers. And that gorgeous yellow tone of the rice? Turmeric!

Get the recipe here.


2. Patatas Bravas

This native Spanish tapas dish is usually found served up in restaurants and bars throughout Spain. It’s base is white potatoes that have been cut into irregular shapes and then fried in oil and served up warm with a spicy tomato sauce, or a garlic mayo. It’s a pretty simple dish to make, and to make it vegan by choosing the spicy tomato sauce this is a real winning side you could serve up with your dinner, or as a group of tapas with friends.

Get the recipe here.


3. Spanish Potato Tortilla

When we think of tortilla, we automatically think of those crunchy corn snacks we’ve been eating for years. But in Spain, a tortilla is a savory omelette made with potatoes and eggs. Which is a pretty tasty option for veggies, but what about vegans?  Well, this is a vegan replica of that classic recipe and I can’t wait to get my pan out and try this. You could play around with the flavours of this, and maybe throw in some onion and peppers. The world is your oyster.

Get the recipe here.


4. Banderillas

Whilst the name has distastefully originated from the darts used in bullfighting, these snacks are actually vegan friendly. It’s basically pickles on a cocktail stick. Traditionally it’s an assortment of treats, from onions, gherkins, pimento stuffed olives, pepper and artichoke hearts. Just alternate them on a stick and serve them up as a simply little tapas dish. Simples!

Still want a recipe for this? Get one here.


5. Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a popular dish – especially in summer. It’s basically a cold Spanish soup made up of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. It’s a really refreshing dish, and it’s super simple to make. Oh, and did I mention it’s packed full of tasty flavours?

Get the recipe here.



Greece is a undoubtedly a stunning location, and their food is just as gorgeous as the country. But let’s face it: there’s a lot of meat, seafood and cheese in those dishes. If you’d like to explore the Greek cuisine in a healthy, vegan style then I’ve found five popular Greek dishes to satisfy your tastebuds.

1. Vegan Tzatziki

Tzatziki sauce is a famous greek dipping sauce, and I absolutely lived off of it when I visited Greece. It’s cooling and refreshing from the cucumber with a nice minty edge. Dip strips of toasted pitta bread into it, but you can dip vegetable crudites into it, gluten free crackers. It’s a refreshing dip, so if you’ve yet to try it, you must!

Get the recipe here.

2. Vegan Kolokythoketdes (Courgette Balls)

This Greek dish uses comes serves as little balls, but occasionally they’re flat patties. They’re a lightly fried starter that is made up of grated or pureed courgette which is then blended with dill and mint, and paired with a side of tzatziki for a gorgeous cooling combination. The originally recipe isn’t vegan friendly with the addition of eggs, so this courgette fritter recipe is pretty darn similar. You can make your own tzatziki to dip them in too, delicious!

Get the recipe here.


3. Grilled Veggie Gyros

If you’ve been to Greece you’ve probably heard of – or tried – a gyros, typically a flatbread or pita that is filled with rotisserie meat, chips, tomato, onion and tzatziki or a creamy sauce. It oozes juices and sauce and they’re a fairly cheap go-to meal when on holiday. Unless, of course, you’re vegan. So why not make your own healthier, and animal-friendly version? The creamy cucumber and dill sauce in this recipe is insanely good! You’ll be wanting to drizzle it on everything you eat, trust me.

Get the recipe here.


4. Vegetable Souvlaki

Souvlaki is a typically meat dish on skewers with vegetables and sometimes halloumi cheese in between. And it’s pretty easy to make it vegan friendly; just take out the meat and add lots more veggies! And don’t think grilled vegetables on a stick are at all bland: this recipe has a gorgeous marinade for the veggie souvlaki skewers. You could serve these up for a BBQ, or just as a side dish for dinner.

Get the recipe here.


5. Vegan Greek Salad

A basic Greek salad will normally consist of tomatoes, olives and lots of feta cheese, but it will also be heavily coated in some form of oil. I know a few times whilst in Greece I struggled with the sheer volume of olive oil they used in foods. I’m not anti-oils, but I’m more of a drizzle type of gal. But this Greek salad is oh so easy to re-create in a more nutritious way. It’s got kale, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and kalamata olives with pine nuts tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. And it even has feta cheese! Well, kinda. By ‘feta cheese’, I actually mean cauliflower that’s been marinated and then crumbled over this salad, but hey, Greek salads have never looked so enticing!

Get the recipe here.


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