Most food trends are fleeting, generally (these days) driven by social media; Instagram triggered the unicorn Frappuccino® — and a thousand swirly purple unicorn foods after it — and TikTok recently brought us a roasted feta and tomato pasta that’s actually pretty fantastic. But some trends are deeper, slower-moving evolutions of the way we eat, like the shift toward more plant-based foods in our collective diet. Food manufacturers and fast-food chains are hopping on board, noting that whether they consider themselves full-blown vegetarian or vegan or not, more people are eating less meat more often.

Veggies, fruits, grains and dairy products have so much potential — but often, those who are just easing into eating more of them seek out versions of dishes that are typically meat-heavy, like burgers and wings, butter chicken and ginger beef. Here are a few classics to help bring you down that garden path.

Check out Julie’s other recipes in our Plant-Based Dishes series: Butter Paneer and Cauliflower Fritters with Hollandaise Sauce.

Ginger Not-Beef

Soy curls are miraculous things — rehydrated and fried in oil, they have the texture of the crispiest ginger beef. They make the perfect vehicle for that sweet-sticky, gingery sauce.


  • 2 cups soy curls, (4 oz or 500 ml)
  • Canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking
  • 1 tsp cornstarch, 5 ml
  • 1/3 cup water, 80 ml
  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce, 80 ml
  • 1/4 cup sugar, 60 ml
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 30 ml
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger, 15 ml
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes, 3 ml
  • 1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced at slight angle
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • chopped green onions for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish


  • Put the soy curls in a bowl, cover with water and let sit for about 15 minutes, then drain well and lightly squeeze out any excess moisture.
  • In a heavy, shallow pot, heat about an inch of oil until hot, but not smoking. (If you have a thermometer, aim for about 175 C or 350 F.)
  • Fry the curls for a few minutes, until crisp; transfer with tongs or a slotted spoon to a bowl or plate. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir the cornstarch into the cold water. Stir in the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, ginger and chili flakes.
  • Set a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a drizzle of oil (use a ladle to add some of the warm oil you just cooked the soy curls in if you like) and cook the onion, pepper, carrot and garlic for a couple of minutes, until starting to soften.
  • Add the sauce to the pan and bring to a simmer; cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, until thickened. Add the soy curls and toss to coat. Serve immediately, on its own or with steamed rice.