It’s that time of year again, friends! It's time for my It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken annual year-end round-up of my Top 10 Vegan Recipes of 2021!! *Queue Award Show Music* 🎶
I LOVE doing these year-end round-up posts. It's so fun to see what recipes were fan-favorites, and also to take a little time and reflect on all the things that happened on the blog and in my life in 2021.
If you were new to It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken this year, hi 👋 welcome, you're awesome! I hope I've helped you see that a vegan diet is SO much more than salad and quinoa. In fact, there isn't a single salad or quinoa recipe in this post! Drop a comment below and let me know how your year went, what some of your favorite recipes are, and if you have any recipe requests for 2022 (I love recipe requests). After all these 8 years of writing and posting, I truly feel we have created a very warm, inclusive, and supportive community which is probably the best thing to come out of any year!
Ok time to take a look over 2021. For me, there were a LOT of memorable moments over the year.
Here's a snapshot of what happened in 2021:
I released my second bestselling cookbook called Fast Easy Cheap Vegan
On March 30th, my second cookbook, Fast Easy Cheap Vegan was published. The crazy part: it was declared a bestseller before its publication date on pre-orders alone! Wow. I was shocked and humbled and am so grateful to all who continue to support my work. Writing these books is a labor of love and takes oodles of time getting the recipes and photos juuuust right. It was so exciting to see my book on the charts ranking alongside huge books such as Barack Obama’s memoir! Surreal is an understatement. Fast Easy Cheap Vegan also won 3rd prize at the Vegan Film Festival (IVFF) in the category of “Best Cookbook”. How cool is that?!
We launched The Easy Vegan Meal Plan
On August 11, 2021, we launched the Easy Vegan Meal Plan! Conceptualized and designed by Adam and I and then brought to life by the amazing team at Blue Flamingo, this project took a ton of work and attention to detail by the whole team. I'm so proud of what we have made and I love that I'm able to help hundreds of amazing subscribers make delicious plant-based food all week long. The Easy Vegan Meal Plan subscribers (or EVMP's as I like to call them), have also provided invaluable feedback since the launch that has helped us further shape the program to be the best and most customizable vegan meal planner out there! I love you EVMP's! Learn more about The Easy Vegan Meal Plan by clicking here.
I worked with my favorite brands and got some amazing press!
I had the privilege to work with some of my favorite brands:
- Earth’s Own -I use their Barista Oat every single morning in my coffee.
- Sunrise Soya Foods - my go-to tofu brand.
- Gardyn - I'm in love with this amazing hydroponic garden! (Use code: SamTurnbull for $100 off)
- Bowflex - the best home gym equipment ever.
- Beyond Meat - my go-to plant-based burger!
- and Wuxly - the warmest and best-designed vegan winter coat ever!
I was also lucky enough to get a ton of press including:
- CBC Radio featured me on a cross-country syndicated show to speak about veganism during a lockdown, which was a super-interesting topic to discuss with them
- CTV Morning Live Edmonton
- Global News Morning Kingston
- CTV Morning Live Vancouver
- CTV Morning Live Calgary
- and VegNews, Impact Magazine, Inside Hook, and Wander Magazine all were kind enough to feature me and my newest cookbook.
- And to top it off, I had the great honor of being on the cover of Canadian Vegan Magazine! Crazy!
I taught virtual cooking classes in The Ultimate Vegan Kitchen
In collaboration with Kim Constable (@thescuptedvegan) we launched The Ultimate Vegan Kitchen. This venture launched in December of 2020, but the majority of the live online cooking courses and Q&A sessions ran through early 2021. I had never done live cooking courses before, (or even filmed live video content) so I was a little nervous at first, but before I knew it, I found my flow and I found it so, so much FUN!! I can’t wait to do more cooking courses again very soon! I already have oodles of new ideas and concepts I want to bring to the next round. If you're interested in joining my next cooking course sign up below to be on the waitlist!
We started a free cooking club
Sometime in early-to-mid 2021, I also launched a new Facebook Community called, Sam Turnbull’s Recipe Club. This is a place for people to come and cook their way through my books and blog posts, share recipe ideas, photos, offer support, and basically just come together as a community of vegan recipe enthusiasts! I have so much fun checking in and chatting with the group, offering guidance where I can and my amazing digital community planner, Jess, has been a true super-star guiding that group along. Honorable mention goes to Milton Shields aka Julie for her weekly recipe challenges and being one of the group leaders! Join the group for free here.
We grew the It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken team
My team also grew this year! It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken has been growing so quickly that I realized this year I needed some (or a lot) of extra help. If you're in my Facebook groups you may already be familiar with the amazing Jess who has been with me since 2018 and is an invaluable member of the IDTLC team. But even with Jess's help, I realized there was just too much to do to handle it all by myself. Enter: Adam! Yes, my Adam decided to leave his long-time career in the music industry to join the team. And thank goodness he did! Without these two amazing people, I wouldn't be able to get it all done. Also, here is a ridiculous pic of Adam, Jess, and I on a zoom call going over important work stuff. Thanks for the photo, Jess! 😂
And the biggest news of all: I GOT MARRIED!!!
On June 19th, 2021, Adam and I tied the knot. Woo-hoo! I literally couldn't be happier or feel luckier. We had a tiny wedding of just 13 people (Adam and I included). And this made for the most special and unique wedding. We've officially been husband and wife for just over 6 months now, and every day feels like the best day I've ever had. I feel so incredibly lucky to have this man by my side for the rest of my life, and I will continue to chase him around the kitchen, giggling like teenagers as long as we both shall live. ❤️
If you want to see more photos and learn about all the details of our vegan wedding, click here.
Now on to the top 10 vegan recipes of 2021
And now back to VEGAN FOOD! Every year I collect the recipes that YOU loved most. You voted by reading my recipes, sharing them, making them, commenting on them, and giving them a star rating. The results are in: here are the most popular, fan-favorite vegan recipes of 2021!
We're getting fishy in here. With the release of the documentary Seaspiracy, I decide to make a ton of vegan seafood-inspired recipes, and many of them made the top 10 list! These vegan scallops are the perfect companion to a simple, buttery, garlicy pasta, or to just have on its own. Vegan Garlic Seared Scallops are made using king oyster mushrooms and when cooked up, they become so much like scallops it's actually kind of shocking. The texture is PERFECT, and the flavor? All-around amazing.
Ooooh this was a really interesting day in the kitchen when I made this. It is the most bacon-y vegan bacon I've ever made! My Vegan Wheat Starch Bacon even out baconed my rice paper bacon which formerly held the position of “most bacon-y” (yes, this is an actual title and badge of honor). This starch water bacon is crispy, chewy, fatty, smoky, salty goodness. And, well, just look at it!! The starch is leftover from my 2 ingredient vegan chicken recipe (see below), but I plan to make a version using store-bought starch as well in 2022.
I gotta admit, I love my Vegan Jackfruit Salad Sandwich more than most. It’s quick and easy and delicious and is number 8 on this top 10 list. You can’t beat a solid, easy-to-make sandwich. It’s flakey, brine-y, and totally scrumptious, this recipe is like a vegan tuna salad sandwich but better! Just 10 minutes to make and only 10 ingredients, and it tastes even better the next day so it's perfect for making ahead. Win win win win win!
Easy Vegan Crab Cakes are flaky, tender, and creamy, and next-level good! The nori (seaweed) adds slight fishiness to the taste. Just look how moist and delicate they are! A perfect option for an appetizer or a main, these are sure to please the seafood lover in your house, all the while leaving our fishy friends alone!
I mean, are we surprised that my Easy Fudgy Vegan Brownies made their way onto the list? And these aren't sad cakey brownies (does anyone actually like cakey brownies)? These are super rich, super lush, super chocolatey, and incredibly FUDGY. This vegan brownie recipe is easy to make, and it also freezes very well. So I love to whip up a batch, toss 'em in the freezer, and then I have a brownie to grab whenever chocolatey cravings strike!
Now entering the top 5! How about some Vegan Lobster? Yup, you read that right! Rich, tender, and served with a buttery lemon garlic dip. Oh, and get this - it's just 7 ingredients and takes just 10 minutes to make. I mean, just look at how good this Vegan Lobster looks! I have to confess: after taking these photos, Adam and I devoured this dish in record time. We only paused every so often to say things like, "Holy moly, this is good!" or "Yummmm, oh my goodness!" or "I can't believe this is VEGAN!"
Fourth place goes to a dish that came out of a quest to recreate an old favorite back from my non-vegan days: Teriyaki Chicken. But I decided to replace the chicken with my best friend: tofu. The key to making Easy Sticky Teriyaki Tofu irresistibly delicious is to prepare the tofu correctly- and in this recipe, I share all of my best techniques.
I had so much fun making this and during the process, was unsure of how it would turn out. Needless to say, I loved it- and so did you! This is the most chicken-y vegan chicken I have ever tasted!! Washed Flour Seitan is chewy and juicy. The seitan pulls apart into shreds that are perfect for snacking on alone, or you can add them to practically any dish- pasta, sandwiches, salads, soups, wherever you like!
The number 2 position is dedicated to my never-ending quest to make things as simple and quick as possible while never missing out on flavor and texture. And I gotta say, I really love this recipe. Just 20 minutes to make, and only 7 ingredients, this is by far the Quickest and Easiest Seitan Recipe ever! This vegan chicken alternative is simple to whip up and perfect to add to any meal. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, and tender chewy in the middle. The perfect meaty texture to amp up any vegan meal! If you are new to making seitan this is the perfect recipe for beginners to try.
And coming in a number 1… *drum roll*….wait, no need for a build-up. You can see what it is already. Congratulations go to my Vegan Salmon! After googling vegan salmon recipes, I really couldn't find anything that fit the bill so I knew I needed to invent my own. This took a lot of experimenting and testing but I finally nailed the recipe. I'm so thrilled it was met with so much success and rave reviews. I received messages and emails from people saying they almost burst into tears when biting into this recipe, as it satisfied cravings they had had for years. Recipe writing success!
I saw a lot of vegan salmon taste tests and recipe variations inspired by my vegan salmon recipe in the form of Tik Tok videos, Reels, Youtube videos, Stories, and Blog Posts, and that just made me so happy to see! I love when one of my recipes strikes a chord and inspires so many people to try it themselves. It just equates to more and more people eating vegan, and that's what I'm all about.
I'm so happy to see a vegan seafood dish take the top prize this year as our oceans and waterways need all the help, they can get! Take a bow, Vegan Salmon - this was your year!
Finally, as we continue to wrap 2021 up, I thought it would be fun to list some of my vegan-friendly favourites of 2021! These are ranked in no particular order but are they are some of my most favorite vegan-friendly things, brands, finds, restaurants, and businesses from 2021. I hope you find some inspo here and check them out if you haven't already!
Top Vegan-Friendly Finds In Toronto (In no particular order):
- Fat Choi: The food never stopped coming and we weren’t complaining! A welcome (vegan) addition to Toronto’s Ossington strip!
- Textür Studio: Owner/Stylist Allison Jahr runs this vegan-friendly salon in Toronto’s east end. She managed to keep my hair beautiful and all shades of blonde this year. I love this place so much!!
- Gia Restaurant: Drool. Seriously. Go there. Dundas West has always had some of the best places in the city. Gia is no exception to that! A great addition to this amazing area of the city. This restaurant is vegetarian, but they clearly mark the many dishes that are vegan.
- Planta Cocina: Another jewel in the crown for Planta. This place is a must-try when in the downtown core. You won’t regret it.
- Fresh Toronto: Our “go-to” restaurant when it came to ordering in. You really can’t go wrong with them!
- La Bartola: Owner/Chef, Ivan Castro, has become a great pal and was even the caterer at my wedding. We’ve been to his beautiful restaurant on a few occasions, attended a secret dinner, and even got his food for take-out during the lockdown. If you are in the little Italy neighborhood of Toronto – go visit. You will not regret it!!
- Wuxly Pop Up: Love their pop-up at 884 Queen St W! If you’re looking for a vegan/cruelty-free warm winter coat this year - this is the place!
Favorite “go-to” Vegan-Friendly Food Brands of the Year:
- Earth’s Own Barista Oat Milk: We start every single day with this oat milk. There is none better!
- Sol Cuisine: Their Crispy Chik’n Bites are incredible and we loved them so much, they even made an appearance during our wedding weekend as a midday snack while hanging around the pond swimming and enjoying the summer!
- Violife Parmesan and Halloumi: So, so good!
- Sunrise Soya: Their tofu is a staple in my fridge and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it!
- Beyond Meat: Beyond Burgers, Beyond Beef, Beyond Sausage… yes, please!!!
- President’s Choice Plant-Based Products: Their new Plant-Based products this year are so good!! Their Chickenless and Beefless broth as well as their vegan butter are delicious and have become staples in my kitchen!
- Herbaland: Ok, not a food, but edible. Vitamin B12 and D3 Supplement is a must for a Canadian Vegan.
OK!! That’s a wrap!! 2021, you were a very unique year full of many ups and some downs but no matter what, I will always remember this year as the one where I got to marry the love of my life and embark on some pretty memorable adventures that continue to unfold. I hope everyone can look back on the year with some fondness despite the unprecedented challenges many of us faced and continue to face. And here’s to a bright and prosperous 2022 for us all.
I can’t tell you how touched and honored I am to be able to continue to provide you all with vegan recipes. I appreciate your kind words and support and ongoing interest in what I do. I promise to continue to help you in your plant-based journeys and (hopefully) knock your socks off with some delicious new creations in 2022.
Happy New Year and much love to everyone!!