Easy. Healthy. Cheap. Vegan. This vegan “chik’n” lo mein with stir-fried veggies recipe is all of those and more: it’s delicious!!
If you’re looking for a quicker way to sneak some Asian food into your family’s menu, or even a quick lunch for yourself, this recipe is for you! (Honestly, the word “recipe” is a stretch, this dish is so stinkin’ EASY!)
Not a vegan? No problem! This recipe is totally doable with chicken. (Just replace vegan “chik’n” product with chopped, cooked chicken breast and you’ll have yourself an easy Chicken Lo Mein recipe! )
But if you’re curious about adding a “Meatless Monday” to your menu rotation, read on for the benefits of less meat consumption and a healthier diet.
Family Food Feud
Ok, I ain’t gonna lie: The main reason I came up with this dish was rather selfish. See, I’m the only one in this family who LOVES Asian food. One will barely tolerate it, one is a big “nope!” and one is the polite, “no thanks, not my favorite.”
What’s a girl to do? I could drive by some local Asian eateries to get my fix, but A, that would get expensive, B, that’s a lot of extra effort, and C, restaurant food tends to be less healthy as I’d like to eat on a regular basis.
So I figured a way to throw together some foods from the grocery store that made something yummy, nutritious, and quick. How quick? Quick enough to get me in and out of the kitchen FAST, even while cooking a pot of mac and cheese for the kids on the side!
After all, we moms sacrifice enough in our lives already for our little ones, right? We shouldn’t have to give up our favorite dishes, especially those that are actually healthy, just to please the simple palettes of our families. (And yes, we should also bring them on board sometimes, too, introducing them to new flavors a little at a time, but that’s another article.)
This vegan “chicken” lo mein recipe makes at least two servings; I even stretch it to three, so there’s enough for 3 lunches! Now I look forward to lunch time, instead of just choking down another mouthful of mac and cheese and snacking on the kids’ leftovers the rest of the day.
Why Go Vegan?
Like I said earlier, you can totally make this with regular chicken nuggets or cut up chicken breast. But for those of you who are maybe just a little curious as to why even consider cutting back on meat, here’s a few good reasons:
- Lose weight or maintain a healthier weight: Vegans are on average 20 pounds lighter than meat eaters. Think of how much more energy you’ll have when you’re at a healthy weight, and not weighed down with a diet heavy in extra calories and saturated fat!
- Live well with a lower risk of cancer!
- Enjoy life with a much lower risk of heart disease. Meat, eggs and dairy products all contain cholesterol and saturated fat, which builds up in arteries and obstructs blood flow to the body. But there is not a single plant in the world that contains cholesterol!
- Enjoy the benefits of plant nutrition as you learn to eat more fruits and vegetables. You will naturally meet your nutritional needs of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals as you learn to cook vibrantly with more colorful fruits and veggies and satisfying grains.
Save the Planet
The meat industry is a major cause of pollution. From farming huge amounts of grain to feed the animals, disposing of animal waste, to transporting and processing the animal flesh into products, this massive meat production contributes to climate change.
In fact, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), “meat and dairy specifically accounts for around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.” Even reducing our meat and dairy consumption, not going entirely vegan, would bring agricultural pollution down to safe levels.
Feed the World
925 million people, mostly in underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia, are suffering from hunger. This number of people is more than the United States, Canada, and the European Union, combined!
Much of this starvation is due to our prioritizing our natural resources to the consumption of animal products. While there is enough plant-based nutrition to feed the entire world, most of these crops are fed to livestock for the wealthier nations. This includes the crops grown by the people in underdeveloped countries.
Imagine how many starving people we could feed just by reducing our animal consumption and redirecting those plant resources to those in desperate need!
Not ready to go cold turkey? Try Meatless Monday!
(No pun intended there, by the way.)
Another reason I love this dish, Vegan “Chik’n” Lo Mein with Stir-Fried Veggies, is because it’s a great transition meal for vegan wanna-bes or Meatless Monday newbies.
What’s Meatless Monday?
This campaign was actually started back in the early 1900’s, by Herbert Hoover, before his presidency. Many people overseas were starving due to farmland being turned into battlefields during World War I. Farmers became soldiers and food became scarce. As an effort to conserve resources and help our allies in Europe, Americans were encouraged to go meatless one day a week. Originally this day was Tuesday, Meatless Tuesdays.
Meatless Monday is a great way to start the week with the good intentions toward better health and a cleaner environment. Use this opportunity to experiment with tasty recipes that don’t include animal products, or at least not meat.
Tips for Cutting Back on Meat
- Begin using meat sparingly, as a flavor, rather than the main dish of the meal. For example, a few chunks of chicken breast in a stir-fry or rice bowl. A small amount of ground beef in a spaghetti sauce that’s also chock full of garden veggies.
- Bulk up your protein with beans. Substitute refried beans for some or all the beef in tacos.
- Introduce the healthful benefits of tofu. Add to your favorite stir-fry and you’ll love how its mild flavor blends wonderfully with your go-to Asian sauces.
- Experiment with all the great plant-based protein products at your grocery store. A few popular meatless brands that offer amazing meatless entrees and meat substitutes include:
That last one there, Tyson, the nation’s largest meat producer, now has a scrumptious line of plant based options! Who’d-a-thunk?!!! Check it out!
By the way, most of those vegan brands listed above include a link to stores that carry their plant-based products. Just click on a link that says “”Where to Buy” or “Find a Store” or something like that.
(No, these aren’t sponsored links, I’m just really excited that there’s so many great vegan options out there! Gotta share the news!)
The Recipe for Vegan “Chik’n” Lo Mein with Stir-Fried Vegetables
I created this recipe as a way to enjoy healthy vegan Asian food without spending a lot of money on Chinese takeout or time chopping in the kitchen. Frozen stir-fry vegetables are just as healthy as fresh, and they save time from all that slicing and dicing.
While regular chicken lo mein with vegetables is still a healthy choice, keeping the spotlight on those fresh vegetables and tangy sauces, give plant-based chicken substitute products a chance in this tasty vegan Asian recipe. “Chik’n” nuggets can be found under a variety of brands. At least some of those that I listed above should be available in your favorite grocery store.
One more thing:
I know that Asian stir-fry recipes are traditionally cooked in a wok, but not having one, I used what we have: a big ol’ cast iron skillet. Blame it on living in the south, I don’t know, but I LOVE cooking with this thing! It takes a few minutes to heat up, but man does it get HOT, and it stays hot for quite some time afterwards, too. That’s great if you’re ever interrupted while cooking (any other moms out there know what that’s like?!!), because you can just slide the pan off the heat and it will keep on cooking!
So two words of caution: (ok, maybe a few more than 2..)
- Watch out for splattering hot oil! Keep a matching sized lid handy, or use a splatter screen if you like to give your food some “air” while it cooks. I bought this one on Amazon, and find it very helpful when I want to let the steam out but keep the grease splatters in.
- Since the cast iron pan stays hot so long, be sure to remove your vegan chik’n lo mein with vegetables immediately so they don’t overcook.
Now onto that recipe…!!
- 2 servings Lo Mein Noodles
- 8 Vegan Chik'n Nuggets (Morningstar brand or others)
- 1/2 bag frozen stir-fry vegetables (about 8 oz.)
- 2 T Sesame sauce or other Asian sauce of choice (more sauce if needed, to taste)
- 2 T Olive oil
- Cook noodles as directed on package (usually about 5 minutes in boiling water).
- Drain and rinse noodles, set aside.
- Heat oil over medium high heat in wok or large cast iron skillet. (my favorite!)
- Cook vegan chik'n nuggets in oil, about 4 minutes each side. Stay close by to prevent burning, and watch out for hot oil! Cover with lid to avoid dangerous splatters.
- Remove nuggets from pan, set aside.
- Cook vegetables in hot oil. (Add more oil if needed.) Cook uncovered one minute, then 3 minutes covered. Stir occasionally.
- Add nuggets and noodles to the pan. Pour sauce over noodles, stir gently to heat through.
- Remove food to serving dish. Turn off heat.
- While pan is still hot, (cast iron skillet keeps its heat!) sprinkle sesame seeds in a small puddle of oil. Cook till lightly toasted. Sprinkle onto veggie lo mein dish.
- Eat and enjoy! Makes about 2 servings. Store leftovers in covered container in fridge. Tastes great reheated!
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Now get cooking!
Are you ready to try this easy veggie lo mein? Stir-frying a heap of healthy veggies on a steaming hot pan is actually a lot of fun, and the results are even better!
I especially like pairing this dish with a cold glass of iced green tea. If you also like playing with fruity flavors when mixing up your tea, hop on over to my post, Blueberry-Pineapple Green Iced Tea !
I hope this simple recipe has summoned your Asian cooking goddess and inspired you to add a healthier version of your favorite Chinese lo mein recipe to your mealtime routine. Adding a few meatless meals to your menu is great for your health, the environment, and the world, so let’s get cooking!