No, I’m not vegan. Yes, this chili is just as delicious as any meaty, cheesy chili I’ve ever made. No, I’m not kidding. It even passed the Kyle test. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Kyle test, it’s this thing where I feed my extremely carnivorous boyfriend extremely plant-based food, and watch to see if he willingly eats the leftovers or not. He did with this one, y’all, so you know it’s good.
I thought I’d take a minute to discuss my own dietetic doctrine and open up the table for you to discuss yours. Everyone’s dietary choices are different for any number of reasons, and I consider it of the utmost importance to be respectful of those differences.
For reasons all my own, I choose to eat mostly vegetarian. I’ve found that it’s more affordable on my current budget, and I consider it my protest vote against factory farms and corporate agriculture. I do usually eat meat around once a week, but when I do, it’s humanely raised. Obviously I can’t afford to buy all humanely raised meat, so eating less of it just seemed like the logical choice for me.
Even though I’m not vegan or even fully vegetarian, I do believe it’s everyone’s duty to eat as ethically as they can. Of course, this amount – and the definition of ethics – varies for everyone, and I think that’s something we should all be mindful of as well. I’ve encountered a lot of diet hate on the internet recently, so I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that you never know the circumstances that led to someone’s diet. If you feel your best eating vegan or vegetarian, then great! Go for it.
However, I also have a lot of friends who are severely allergic to nuts, beans, seeds, and legumes – AKA the most popular sources of plant-based protein – so it would be very difficult for them to cut out animal protein entirely. Being vegan is also a luxury not everyone can afford; so many people rely on cheap calories to feed their families because they have less than $100 a week to spend on food. More often than not, those cheap calories come from animal protein. It’s not ideal, but it’s how the system is set up, so it’s absolutely paramount that we consider these situations before we jump to judging others’ diets. These things happen more often than you’d think.
Anyway, the whole point of this rant is that we’re all on our own journey, ya know? Everyone’s situation is different, so just live your life the way you want and be kind to others regardless of what’s on their plate. Life is too short to criticize, y’all.
BUUUUT… if you ARE looking for more plant-based protein, this recipe is the way to go. It’s packed with all sorts of goodies, like quinoa and beans, that will keep you full and happy all. Day. Long. If you don’t have butternut squash (or if you just don’t feel like conquering one of those monsters today) no worries! You can easily sub out the butternut squash with sweet potatoes or whatever else you fancy.
Perhaps the best part of this recipe (other than the fact that it’s super filling and really, really good for you) is that it makes EXCELLENT leftovers. I might even venture to say that it tastes better the next day than it does on the first. And it’s so easy! It’s one of the few recipes I actually have memorized. Just cook up the onions, peppers and squash, add your spices, then chuck in the beans, tomatoes, stock, and quinoa, and let it do its thang. Before long, you’ll have a big bowl of chili so thick and hearty your spoon will stand straight up in it. The best.
Vegan Butternut Squash & Quinoa Chili
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 4 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- optional: 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 2 (15 oz) cans beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- Diced avocado and/or cilantro, for topping
Heat olive oil in a big soup pot over medium heat. Cook onion, peppers, and butternut squash for 5–7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers are soft. Add garlic and jalapeño and cook for an additional minute, just until fragrant.
Add the spices and stir together to coat, then add in the beans, tomatoes, and vegetable stock. Turn heat to medium-high, cover, and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, for 15–20 minutes, or until the butternut squash is soft and the quinoa is fully cooked.
Serve topped with avocado and cilantro.