Enjoy this camp cafeteria staple without all the grease...and mystery meat.

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
September 16, 2017
Photo: Natalie Rizzo, M.S., R.D.

Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to cut back on meat, this meat-alternative variation of the classic Sloppy Joe is sure to satisfy your growling stomach. The star of this recipe is the eggplant, a veggie that definitely doesn't get the love it deserves. Eggplant has a texture that can mimic meat depending on how you cook it, and it soaks up any flavors you throw at it. Plus, fall is prime eggplant time, so you're sure to find fresh options at the store. (Discover 10 more ways to cook eggplant.)

The veggie's gorgeous royal purple color is rooted in anthocyanin, a type of flavonoid or antioxidant. Also found in other red and purple fruits and veggies, anthocyanins have been shown to boost memory and prevent disease. And if all of those reasons weren't enough to make this recipe, the best reason is that it really does taste like the Sloppy Joes you grew up on, just without all cholesterol-spiking grease and fat.

Vegan Eggplant Sloppy Joes

Makes 4 or 5 sandwiches


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 cups chopped eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 or 5 hamburger buns
  • Lettuce or cole slaw for topping (optional)


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and onions, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, and eggplant and cook for 5 to 6 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Stir in paprika and tomato paste.
  5. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and tomatoes. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Spoon mixture onto hamburger buns and serve.

Comments (1)

September 17, 2017
That looks so good, and how wonderful that no cows are harmed for this dish and also it has a low greenhouse gas footprint. Thanks Shape for this recipe, and please do lots more vegan recipes! :)