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Being a vegan is a healthy, ethical way of living that sustains many people throughout the world. If you’re interested in the lifestyle, read along as we talk about how it will impact you and the world. If you’re still interested in becoming a vegan, I’ll outline a delicious vegan meal plan that will ensure you never even miss eating meat, cheese, or dairy products.
I know I don't.
Some background on me: My mother had a scientific mind.
So, on one Thanksgiving Day when I was about ten, she decided to use the turkey to teach me a lesson about anatomy. (Think gizzards and turkey necks!)
That was the day I became a vegan.
Over the years, she often expressed regret for planning the lesson she thought would be so interesting. But I always assured her that she did me a huge favor that has resulted in a healthy, satisfying life.
That experience led me to learn all I could about how to live a plant-based life, including how to create a vegan meal plan.
What is a Vegan?
Many people confuse vegetarians and vegans, but there is a stark difference.
Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but they do eat dairy, eggs, and animal by-products.
A vegan meal plan, on the other hand, doesn’t include any products from animals, and that includes their milk and eggs.
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You're probably curious what being a vegan means:
For some, being a vegan is about more than just the foods you eat. It is a lifestyle dedicated to not harming animals.
That means we don’t eat them, use them for our clothing, makeup, medications, personal care items, shoes, or household products.
Is a Vegan Meal Plan Safe?
One of the biggest questions people have when starting their vegan meal plan is whether or not it’s safe.
After all, we’ve heard for decades that people need a certain amount of animal products in order to get our daily requirement of protein.
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But here’s the thing: some plants and grains provide as much protein as animals.
Don't believe me? Here's an example:
If you eat quinoa, which is a grain, you will get all nine essential amino acids. In other words, it’s a complete protein — without animal products.
If lowering your blood pressure is your goal, a vegan meal plan may be the answer. Studies show that when people eat a vegan diet, they have lower blood pressure.
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Also, nutritional yeast, the powdery product that gives vegans their “cheesy” food fix, also contains all nine amino acids needed to make it a complete protein.
But you don’t have to take my word for it:
Studies show that vegan meal plans, if done properly, have amazing health benefits. Vegans are thinner, have lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and a lower chance of developing heart disease.
But despite all the health benefits, the study also says that vegans can suffer vitamin deficiencies if they don’t properly prepare their vegan meal plan.
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You will need to ensure you get enough vitamins B-12, D, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium in your foods. You can take supplements, too.
The study also shows that some vegans may be deficient in iron and zinc. You can get these naturally by eating fortified foods or by taking supplements.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), when you start a vegan meal plan and stick with it, you can save up to 200 animals a year.
A Vegan Meal Plan is Kind to Animals
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Maybe you weren’t traumatized by seeing turkey innards on Thanksgiving Day when you were a child, but my guess is that if you’re reading this article, you care about animals.
Meat production isn’t what it used to be.
Today, slaughterhouses are cruel places that don’t consider an animal’s welfare or comfort when being killed. In fact, many animals die a painful death while still conscious.
And don’t think that just because you’re a vegetarian, you don’t contribute to animal cruelty.
For example, egg farms grind up male baby chicks because they can’t lay eggs.
And milk cows that would naturally live 20 years only live 4 after farmers ramp up their milk production so high that it kills them.
What happens to the cows then?
Suppliers turn them into processed meat. Watch the video "Earthling" in the link below for all these facts and more.
The Downsides to the Vegan Lifestyle
While it’s true that vegans enjoy many health and lifestyle benefits, the diet does have some downfalls.
But if you’re serious about eliminating animal products from your diet and creating a healthy vegan plan, the downfalls aren’t difficult to overcome.
Here are three that you should know about.
1. A Vegan Meal Plan is Not Easy To Follow
Just like with any controlled diet, you will need to work to ensure that you maintain healthy eating habits while on your vegan meal plan.
It is easy to slip into a rut and begin eating the same things every day, but that won’t help you stay motivated to remain a vegan.
And in addition to keeping your diet varied, you will need to stay on alert for some ingredients that are not vegan — whether you’re shopping in a grocery store or dining out.
Here are some common ingredient no-nos for vegans:
Comes from the stomach lining of a calf. You will find it in cheese.
Comes from boiled skin, tendons, and ligaments. You will find it in chewing gum and other sweets.
Made from fish bladders. Find it in beer and wine.
Carmine, cochineal extract or natural red 4
Made from crushed up bugs (Yes, you read that correctly). It’s added to red-colored foods.
Comes from duck feathers. Used to give bread its texture.
Made from charred animal bones. Used to filter some sugars.
And finally, depending on where you live, dining out may be a challenge. I can’t tell you how many times my friends and family have chosen a restaurant because it has salad on the menu.
Here’s a news flash: vegans don’t want to eat a salad when they dine out. They want food choices just like everyone else!
Vegans enjoy better heart health than their meat-eating friends, and that’s a great reason to start a vegan meal plan right away.
A meta-analysis of 40 studies and 12,619 vegans shows that people who eat a vegan diet have a more favorable cardio-metabolic profile in comparison to meat eaters.
Another study shows that following a vegan meal plan may provide more benefits for those suffering from coronary artery disease than the diet recommended by the American Heart Association.
2. It's Not Automatically Healthy — It Takes Work And Planning
Many vegans avoid animal products but still don’t manage to eat a healthy diet.
For example, you can buy a lot of “fake” meats and cheeses to supplement your diet, but they are nothing more than processed foods.
If you want to create a healthy and nutritious vegan meal plan, you should concentrate on whole foods.
Fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nut butters, and lots of water. Before long, you will feel so good that that packaged food no longer holds any appeal for you.
Environmentalism is a big deal these days as people are waking up to the reality that we need to start taking care of our earth.
But did you know that eating a vegan diet can help preserve our world?
One study shows that meat-free diets reduced environmental impacts globally. It shows a 54 to 87 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses and a reduction in freshwater use of 2 to 11 percent.
3. You May Need To Take Supplements
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It’s true that you can get all the nutrients you need from a well-organized vegan meal plan, but some people don’t.
That’s because they’re too busy to plan meals for the week, or they had a long day at the office and settled for a quick bowl of cereal for dinner.
If you don’t have the time to carefully plan your vegan meal plan, you should take supplements. At the very least, take vitamin B12, iron, calcium, zinc, and D.
Many people believe that eating healthy is more costly, but one study shows that eating a plant-based diet costs on average $2 less a day.
Is a Vegan Diet Safe For Kids?
The topic of vegan meal plans and kids is a hot one, with experts from both sides weighing in.
Others say that eating a diet different than their peers may make them feel isolated.
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And others dispute the worries and say that with a proper vegan meal plan, kids do just fine on a plant-based diet.
Most experts recommend giving young vegan children vitamin B-12 supplements because they are so important to their development.
But they say as long as a child gets a wide variety of healthy whole foods, veganism is suitable.
What does that mean in real life, for vegan parents?
I took the middle ground with my son. I initially planned to raise him as a vegan with a well thought out vegan meal plan and vitamin B-12 supplementation.
But as it turned out, it wasn’t for him. He is a carnivore, and that seems to suit him.
Once I realized that he wasn’t going to willfully follow a vegan meal plan, I changed courses and began feeding him meat.
I realized that my vegan journey started early in childhood — it was meant to be. But I felt it would have been wrong of me to force my belief system on my young son.
If you are thinking about raising your child with a vegan meal plan, you should speak with your doctor and do it with guidance and testing along the way.
Researchers set out to determine if a plant-based diet would reduce the incidence of insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type-2 diabetes. What they found surprised a lot of people (but not us vegans!).
A meat-free diet did indeed reduce the risk for all of these diseases. The results led researchers to say it strengthened recent dietary recommendations in favor of a plant-based vegan meal plan.
Another study shows that a plant-based diet significantly improves insulin sensitivity in overweight adults.
Vegan Meal Plan Food Swaps
One of the most exciting things about a vegan meal plan is that you can swap out most ingredients in recipes for vegan-friendly ones.
Don’t think you can make that recipe because it calls for an egg? There’s a swap out for that.
Want some good macaroni and cheese, but think you’re out of luck because you can’t eat cheese? There’s an answer for that, too.
Here are some food swaps that you need to know in order to make the most of your vegan meal plan.
It’s a myth that vegans only eat fruits and vegetables and miss out on exciting foods. The vegan pantry includes a lot of foods that you can easily substitute for non-vegan friendly foods.
And that means we can cook from just about any recipe if we’re inventive.
One of the best examples is meat alternatives. Using them, vegans can make sandwiches, stir-fries, grilled “meats” and more.
When you’re craving a substantial meal, simply substitute one of these meat alternatives for the real deal.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful disease that affects the lives of many people. But some believe a vegan diet can help with that pain.
Studies show inconclusive findings, but say that the benefits from a vegan diet are likely explained by the antioxidants, fiber, and lactobacilli vegans eat.
Those nutrients change the gut flora and, it’s possible that helps with arthritis pain.
Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan
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Tofu got a bad rap back in the day because people didn’t understand it. To them, it was a tasteless white blob, and they couldn’t figure out what to do with it.
I remember going to a dinner party where the hosts knew I was a vegan. They proudly set a plain tofu block in front of me to show they cared.
They shouldn’t have, really.
Tofu is a great addition to your vegan meal plan because it’s so versatile. It’s also a complete protein and rich in calcium.
You can make tofu scrambled “eggs,” stir fry it, or cut it in cubes and pour a rich sauce over it and enjoy.
Tempeh is a soy-based protein that is fermented. The fermentation makes it a great probiotic and is easier to digest.
Tempeh’s texture is a little firmer than tofu and tends to be grainy. You can use it on sandwiches, grilled, or as a meat replacement in almost any recipe.
Seitan is a meat alternative that has a firm texture. It is made from gluten, water, and various spices to give it different flavors. It is high in iron, but not as high in protein as tofu or tempeh.
Because vegans don’t consume animal or dairy fats, they take in less saturated fats. That may be one reason a good vegan meal plan can contribute to a healthier heart.
Textured Vegetable Protein
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Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is also made from soy, and you can buy it in chunks or minced. The minced version makes a great meat substitute for dishes like lasagna and chili.
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Jackfruit’s texture is similar to pulled pork, and that’s why a lot of vegans use it in dishes instead of the meat. It’s not high in protein but it is a good option if you’re looking for variety.
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I can’t imagine life without beans. They contain high amounts of protein and are versatile enough to make tacos, enchiladas, and tostadas — all without animal products. I constantly have them on hand.
You can go to the grocery store and find all kinds of processed fake meat that is vegan-friendly. You can find “fakin bacon,” tofu hot dogs, and an array of other products.
But keep in mind that these foods are processed and not particularly healthy.
Every year, forests are cleared to make room for land to raise food crops to feed factory-farmed animals. By eating a plant-based diet for one year, you will save an acre of trees.
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If you’ve been to the dairy section of your grocery store lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen the rows of non-dairy dairy on display.
You’ll find soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk, hemp milk, rice milk, and more.
Although these alternative dairy products don’t provide good amounts of protein, they are fortified with vitamins B-12, D, A, and calcium.
And they don’t have the high levels of saturated fat that regular dairy products do.
You can also find alternatives to butter such as an olive oil-based spread.
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And you can confidently pass by the egg aisle because you won’t need them to bake.
When the recipe calls for an egg, use a mashed up banana or apple, or make a chia or flax seed egg by combining the seeds with water and letting them soak.
If you want to live a longer, healthier life, a vegan meal plan should be on your radar.
One recent study shows that people who eat a plant-based diet are less likely to die. The researcher can’t explain why that is but suggested that another study is undertaken to determine the cause.
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Many people hesitate to go vegan because they don’t want to give up cheese. But you can use other products to get that rich cheesy flavor in your dishes.
My favorite is nutritional yeast. The smell will drive you wild, and the first time you taste it, you won’t believe someone didn’t sneak some cheese in your food!
Another great cheese alternative is cashew cheese. Make it by soaking unsalted cashew nuts and then blending them with lemon juice and salt.
You can also use aquafaba. Pour the juice of one can of garbanzo beans into a bowl and using a mixer, mix it to the consistency you want.
Finally, you can chop tofu into cubes and then marinate it in an acidic marinade for a couple of days to make vegan feta cheese.
You can also buy vegan cheeses at your supermarket, but remember they’re processed and won’t be as healthy as the ones you make at home.
Vegan Sources of Omega-3S
When creating a vegan meal plan, it’s important to include as many omega-3s as you can because a vegan can easily become deficient in them.
Your body doesn’t make this important nutrient on its own, and non-vegans get it from fish. But luckily, it’s easy to incorporate it into your vegan meal plan.
Eat plenty of chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.
Vegan Sources of Iron
Your body uses iron to carry red blood cells throughout your body, but most people think you can’t get it without eating meat.
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But vegans know that’s not true.
To include plenty of iron in your body, be sure to eat a lot of leafy greens, beans, dried fruit, chickpeas, quinoa, and brown rice.
Vegan Meal Plan on a Budget
We learned earlier that it doesn’t have to be expensive to create a vegan meal plan.
To show you just how easy it is, I’ve included a few recipes below that will get you started on your own vegan meal plan.
Remember, the key to cooking great vegan food is to use your imagination. Put as many colors on the plate as you can, and don’t forget to add varying textures to keep things interesting.
Vegans eat a lot of fiber. A lot.
That’s because we fill our plates with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. And all that fiber gives your body the ability to digest the foods you eat more readily. Remember, it’s important to drink a lot of water when you eat foods high in fiber.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and most people believe it’s one of the most important.
Here are two quick and simple vegan breakfast recipes that will start your day off right.
Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup cashews
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 packet of Stevia (optional)
1 cooked serving of quinoa
fresh fruit and raw almonds for garnish
When you’re in a hurry, but want a nutritious meal, this breakfast bowl fits the bill.
Start by adding all the ingredients except quinoa and garnishes to a blender and puree. Fill a bowl with the cooked quinoa and pour the mixture over it. Then add fresh fruit and raw almonds and enjoy!
Sun Butter, Banana, and Chia Seed Toast
2 pieces of sprouted bread
Sun butter, almond butter, peanut butter, or Nutella
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
A few sliced strawberries
Let’s face it; you are rushed in the morning. And that’s why I’m giving you another quick but delicious recipe for breakfast to add to your vegan meal plan. Toast the bread and spread it with sun butter.
You can use almond butter, peanut butter, or Nutella if you prefer.
Next, cut up a banana and lay the slices over the bread. Now sprinkle chia seeds over the top. This dish is great paired with some fresh, sliced strawberries on the side.
There are 800 million people who do not have enough food to eat. But 90 million acres of land are used to grow corn to feed farmed animals. Wouldn’t that land be better suited to grow food for people?
Whether you are at home during lunchtime or at the office, you’ll need a protein packed and nutritious meal to keep you going. Here are two you can add to your vegan meal plan.
Roasted Cauliflower Tacos
1 head of cauliflower
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 can of chipotle peppers
7 ounces of non-dairy yogurt of a small can of coconut cream
1 capful of apple cider vinegar
1/2 packet of Stevia or the sweetener of your choice
1 package of tortillas
I made this last night and based on the fact that the dish emptied before I had a chance to get seconds speaks of its goodness.
First, cut up the head of cauliflower and sprinkle salt, pepper, and a little olive oil on it. Then tear up two chipotle peppers and lay on top of the cauliflower, adding some of the adobo sauce.
Roast it in the oven for about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the avocados. Then place non-dairy yogurt or a small can of coconut cream, apple cider vinegar, one chipotle pepper, and a tiny amount of sweetener in a blender and blend.
Wrap the tortillas and put in the oven on low.
When the cauliflower is ready, put a slice of avocado and cauliflower on the tortilla. Pour some of the sauce over it, and then add some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.
One Pot Cheesy Broccoli Pasta
2 cups dried pasta
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/2 to 3 cups water
1/2 head of broccoli
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
If you want a quick meal that doesn’t take a lot of time, this yummy meal will satisfy.
Begin by adding the following ingredients to a saucepan: dried pasta, flour, garlic powder, dried chives, onion powder, mustard powder, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, and water.
Bring it to a boil and then cover. Let it cook about ten minutes or until pasta is ready.
Meanwhile, cut up the broccoli. Add it to the saucepan after five minutes. When it’s finished, add the nutritional yeast flakes to the mixture and stir.
At the end of the day, your body needs a simple, nutritious meal to relax and get ready to sleep. Here are two recipes that will do the trick.
Easy Peanut Noodles
1/4 cup creamy, natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon vegan soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar or fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
water to thin if necessary
1 package soba noodles
1/2 cup shitake mushrooms
1/2 cup eggplant
1/2 cup red pepper
1-2 chopped scallions
sesame seeds and crushed peanuts to garnish
Sometimes you crave Asian food, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire night in the kitchen cooking it.
Here’s an Asian-inspired dish that takes just minutes to prepare. It’s a great addition to your vegan meal plan.
First, make the peanut sauce by adding the peanut butter, sesame oil, vegan soy sauce, rice vinegar or fresh lime juice, sriracha, and water if necessary.
Stir until creamy and adjust the seasonings as necessary.
Then boil the soba noodles until al dente. In a saucepan, stir fry shitake mushrooms, eggplant, red peppers, and chopped scallions until cooked. Drain the noodles and add the vegetables to the pot.
Then pour the entire mixture into a bowl. Top with the peanut sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds and crushed peanuts to garnish. You can eat this dish hot or cold.
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
5 cloves garlic
1/8 cup coconut oil
2 small potatoes
1 tablespoon curry
salt and pepper to taste
2 - 4 cups vegetable stock
2 cans of pumpkin or equal roasted flesh of one medium size pumpkin
1 can full-fat coconut milk
I make this recipe a few times a year, and my family waits for it.
During the season, you can purchase (or grow!) a fresh pumpkin and slice it up and roast it as the base. During the off-season, you can use canned pumpkin.
Start by chopping the onion and. Sautee them in coconut oil until translucent.
Meanwhile, chop the potatoes and add them to the pan. Cook until tender. Add salt, pepper, and curry to taste.
Put the entire mixture in a blender and add enough vegetable stock to blend. Put it back in the pot.
Add the pumpkin and blend again. Put it back in the pot and add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Once it’s blended, add as much vegetable broth as needed to give it the consistency you want.
Even with the best vegan meal plan in place, you’re going to want to reach for some snacks once in a while.
Cook up these snacks so you’ll always have something on hand when you need it.
Nut Butter Stuffed Dates
sun butter, peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, tahini, or Nutella
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cacao
For a quick and easy snack that is full of nutrition, make these and put them in your refrigerator.
Slice dates down the middle and fill with sun butter, peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, tahini, or Nutella.
Add a slice of banana to the top of it and sprinkle it with cinnamon and cacao.
stove-cooked (preferable) or microwaved popcorn
4-6 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or to taste)
Everyone loves popcorn, but how do you eat it without butter? With nutritional yeast, that’s how!
Make your popcorn as you normally would, but instead of adding butter, sprinkle nutritional yeast over it when it’s warm. I promise you’ll eat the entire bowl!
Now That You Have Your Vegan Meal Plan, Are You Ready to Begin?
The first step in transitioning to a vegan diet is to create your vegan meal plan. Hopefully, some of the recipes in this blog will inspire you to get to your kitchen and start cooking.
Remember to be innovative and don’t only follow someone else’s recipes. Vegan meal plans include all sorts of meals, and you’re only limited by your imagination.
Have you already created your vegan meal plan? We would love it if you shared some of your recipe ideas in the comments below!