Just a decade ago, if you’d told someone you were vegan, you’d often be met with ridicule. The vegan lifestyle used to be associated with something people did for fun, to stand out, and to seem more quirky. Fortunately, as our environmental awareness grows, so does the popularity of plant-based diets.
Being vegan has countless benefits and very few downsides. These days, even if you enjoy the taste of meat, you can substitute it with produce that doesn’t involve animals. Other than being conscious of the limited resources on our planet, being vegan has other perks, too. The main benefits are healthy living and weight loss.
If you want to try out going vegan — great idea! Don’t be swayed by all the nay-sayers who will tell you that vegan food is not real food, it’s not tasty, or that you will be missing important nutrients. The facts don’t lie — a vegan diet IS good for you. All you need is the perfect vegan meal plan.
How do you get started with it? How to make a meal plan for healthy vegan eating? Simple — by reading our comprehensive guide! Keep reading to learn all about the ideal diet plan for vegans.
What Do You Eat On A Vegan Diet?
Vegans do not eat any foods that come from animals. This covers not just meat and fish but also the foods that they produce, such as dairy and eggs. A typical vegan meal plan consists solely of food made from plants and the plants themselves.
In short, some of the things vegan rotate in their daily meal plan are:
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes (peas, lentils, beans)
- Bread and other carbohydrates
- Vegetable oils
- Soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk
- Dried fruits
- Peanut butter
- Substitute products — plant-based alternatives to other food groups
As vegans avoid quite many food groups, they have to get creative with their meals. Fortunately, there are now thousands of great vegan recipes that make creating your diet plan for vegans a breeze.
To many people, this type of diet seems restrictive at first glance. After all, the diet plan for vegans relies solely on plant-based products. No milk, no cheese, no eggs? For some, losing these things from their meal plans is a deal-breaker that turns them away from going vegan. Hold on — don’t let that stop you.
These days, in 2020 and onward, going vegan is much less restrictive than it seems. After all, as more and more environmentally-conscious people choose to go vegan, the market rises to meet their needs. There are now countless substitutes that are vegan. Vegan milk, vegan cheese, and even eggs all have their vegan substitutes. You’ll be able to make all your favorite meals as part of your new vegan meal plan.
Through a mixture of a balanced, plant-based diet and some substitutes, vegans are able to whip up countless delicious meals and don’t miss their old omnivore ways. A diverse meal plan requires nothing but a bit of creativity and an open mind.
What foods to avoid as a vegan?
Everything made from or with the help of animals is strictly off-limits to a vegan. This is what differentiates them from vegetarians. What are the foods you can’t eat as a vegan?
- Meat of all kinds: beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, duck, lamb, goose, quail, veal, horse, and other meats & poultry
- Fish of all kinds
- Shellfish, clams, crabs, mussels, anchovies, shrimp, squid
- Seafood of all kinds
- Lactose-based milk, cream, and ice cream
The rule of thumb is that anything that was made with the use of animals is a no-no for vegans.
Is a vegan diet healthy?
One of the main concerns people have about going vegan is whether they can remain healthy. It’s true that vegan diets tend to lack some nutrients, but only if you don’t plan your meals right. With some creativity and foresight, vegans are able to get all their nutrients just through their meal plan.
It’s important to keep a balanced diet even when going vegan. Some research is necessary beforehand. If you’re planning to make a lasting commitment and a lifestyle change, you shouldn’t jump in headfirst. The kind of research you’re doing right now, by reading our guide, is one of the building blocks of going vegan in a healthy way.
What Are The Benefits Of Going Vegan?
In terms of strictly how healthy your food is, vegan diets are some of the healthiest. Vegans turn away from animal-based produce and rely on the fruits of the Earth to sustain them. For many people, this results in a much healthier diet than the one they’ve had before.
On the other hand, “vegan junk food” is very much a thing. Everything depends on your approach to the vegan lifestyle and the things that you eat. However, even if you choose to eat poorly, your diet will still be healthier than the omnivore equivalent.
If you’re still on the fence about trying it out, what are the real & true benefits of going vegan?
For many people, being vegan is not just a diet or a lifestyle choice — it’s all part of a movement. Hundreds of thousands of vegans choose to give up animal products because they don’t want to contribute to the — often poor — treatment of these animals. Those animal lovers sometimes choose between going vegetarian and vegan. Moreover, not eating animal products is better for the environment and more sustainable for the planet in the long run.
Vegan diets are often linked to weight loss. Many studies have proven that vegans tend to weigh less and have a healthier BMI (body mass index) than those that eat animal products. Studies have also shown that going vegan for just a few weeks usually results in a weight loss. Depending on what you eat, the weight loss may be tremendous.
A vegan diet is linked to multiple improvements in the overall health of the person who chooses to try it. One of the most marked improvements most people see are lowered blood sugar levels. Diabetics or pre-diabetics turn vegan or vegetarian to limit their sugar & fat intake and, as a result, often become healthier.
The weight loss that often comes from switching to a vegan meal plan brings countless health benefits. From the aforementioned diabetes to reducing pain from arthritis and other conditions to a prolonged lifespan. Reducing obesity and achieving a healthy BMI is a massive benefit all in itself.
Vegan diets are also said to improve kidney function, lower cholesterol, and lower the risk of heart disease. Some studies even show that vegan diets protect against certain forms of cancer.
What Should A Beginner Vegan Eat?
Going vegan is a huge transition. Even if you used to be vegetarian, you will find that many foods are now off-limits to you. Switching to 100% veganism food is a step-up and a change for many, which is why it’s important to make it easier for yourself.
In this section, we will give you tips on how to prepare to go vegan and what to eat during your first few weeks of veganism.
Before you ever consider going vegan, you should research the subject thoroughly. More things fall under the umbrella term of “research” than you might first think of. It’s not as simple as reading a guide or purchasing a cookbook. Going vegan will require you to make sure that your vegan diet is everything it needs to be to keep you healthy & happy.
The research you should do before going vegan encompasses:
- Reading up on the diet plans for vegans. Refer to credible sources and websites you trust. In a section below, we cover an example meal plan for vegans that you can follow.
- Checking to make sure your foods will cover all the nutrients you need. A good way to do this is to check your body weight and use a macro counter to find out how much you need in terms of protein, iron, calcium, and more.
- Visiting your local stores. You should get a good idea of where to shop before you switch to a vegan diet. Otherwise, you risk going hungry if you don’t know where to get fresh produce. Prepare an example shopping list and check local stores & grocery delivery services to see product availability and pricing.
- Checking out some local restaurants. If you live in a rural area, you may not have any vegan restaurants nearby. However, most cities these days have a couple of vegan restaurants or at least restaurants that serve vegan meals.
Learn about substitutes
Some vegans will tell you that they only eat natural vegan food, which is fine! Many people are able to sustain themselves without artificial replacements for the food they used to eat. However, for a new vegan, learning all about vegan substitutes is often the #1 thing that makes the transition that much easier.
Do you know why some people give up on their freshly-started vegan diets? Because of an all-or-nothing attitude. There is nothing worse than telling yourself that you HAVE to go 100% vegan from the get-go. Why? Because it’s really, really hard for some people.
Of course, this depends on your previous diet. If you used to mainly eat plant products before, you won’t see much of a difference now. If you were already vegetarian, you won’t miss meat as much as meat-eaters will. However, regardless of your starting diet, switching to a vegan diet is definitely an adjustment.
Much like people who want to achieve weight loss and cut their calorie count in half from one day to the next, new vegans sometimes struggle to maintain their diet. This is why we’re telling you — pace yourself and take it easy. The key to success in a vegan diet is to improve your meal plans over time.
You don’t have to go fully vegan right away. You may introduce more vegan foods in your daily diet. Alternatively, you can make a short commitment, such as a 30-day vegan diet. Setting yourself achievable goals is the key to you going vegan and STAYING vegan.
Read the labels
Once you go shopping, it’s super-important to read the labels very carefully. Many products are marketed as vegan, and those you can pick up from the get-go. On the other hand, it’s still a good idea to double-check the label and make sure that the product you’re picking up is, in fact, 100% vegan.
For non-vegan labeled products, reading labels is even more important. Oftentimes, a product that might seem vegan at first glance, might contain some non-vegan additives like dairy or eggs.
Plan your meals
For the first few weeks of going vegan, you will undoubtedly have to spend a bit more time in the kitchen. You’ll be trying out all-new recipes! It’s an exciting time, but it might feel like a lot if you work all day and then come home to a dinner you don’t know how to make.
This is why it’s good to make a diet plan for vegans. Sit down when you have a bit of time, research some recipes, and write them down. That way, you will know what to eat each and every day. And remember to load up on healthy snacks to avoid feeling hungry!
Some vegans, when they find themselves unable to get their daily quota of vitamins and nutrients through food alone, use supplements. On a day-to-day basis, you will want to build a diet that is healthy enough to support your body without the help of supplements. However, if you ever struggle to do so, there are plenty of supplements out there that can help. Ensure that you’re getting all your needs met when it comes to vitamins, protein, calcium, iron, carbs, fats, and sugars.
It’s okay to fail!
The above steps are just the beginning of your brand-new vegan lifestyle. Remember to take it step-by-step and don’t give up if you fail. If you end up cheating in the first few weeks it doesn’t have to mean the end of your vegan diet. Instead of giving up, gather your bearings, take another glance at your diet, and try to pinpoint what you’re missing.
Some vegans may allow themselves a cheat day or two every now and then. If you find yourself struggling, it’s a good idea to give yourself a day off and then go back to your diet once the day is over. Remember that healthy eating is not a race, it’s a marathon!
What Are The Best Foods To Eat On A Vegan Diet?
We’ve talked about what you can and can’t eat, but that sometimes is difficult to translate to a recipe or two. When it comes to creating a vegan meal plan, we believe that you should focus on foods you already like and then expand your palate as time goes on.
After a few weeks or months of being vegan, you will see for yourself that there are many foods out there for you to enjoy. Healthy eating is now easier than ever! However, if you’re just starting out, here’s an example of a vegan meal plan that supports weight loss. These meals add up to roughly 1200-1500 calories a day, which means you may be able to lose weight while adapting to your new diet.
If you are looking to follow a strict calorie limit, please count the calories of each meal before you eat it. Precise weighing is the key here. Sometimes a deceptively small amount of food may add up to a whole lot of calories.
Without further ado, check out our day-to-day vegan meal plan to give you some ideas for healthy vegan meal plans.
Day-to-Day Vegan Meal Plan – Day One
- Peanut butter & banana on toast
- Whole-grain pasta with pesto or lentil meatballs
- A pear
- Veggie spring rolls
Day-to-Day Vegan Meal Plan – Day Two
- Vegan yogurt with a side of strawberries and vegan honey, a mix of your favorite nuts and seeds
- Hummus-stuffed sweet potatoes
- A mixed-berry vegan protein shake, peanut butter
- Mac and cheese with vegan cheese substitutes
Day-to-Day Vegan Meal Plan – Day Three
- Eggless quiche with tofu, broccoli, tomatoes
- Green salad with spinach, beets, vegan feta, and quinoa
- An orange
- Vegan pancakes with peanut butter, blackberries, and strawberries
We’ve almost made it to the end of our guide to all things vegan, but we want to send you off with even more knowledge! Check out the most commonly asked questions that we get about vegans & foods for vegans.
How do vegans lose weight fast?
Losing weight when vegan is made a little easier due to the fact that your vegan meal plan However, if you want to be proactive about your weight loss, don’t forget to follow these few simple steps.
- Weigh yourself regularly, but also take measurements. Sometimes what doesn’t show on the scale might show in changes to your body.
- Create vegan meal plans for the entire week. A precise vegan meal plan is the key to your success.
- Weigh everything you eat and check the calorie counter using a calorie counting service such as MyFitnessPal.
- Avoid vegan fast foods and processed foods. Aim for natural meals. Healthy vegan foods are easily accessible in most shops, so this is quite easy to incorporate into your day-to-day vegan meal plan.
- Try to limit eating out and ordering in. Put food in your fridge and don’t buy more food until you’ve eaten your previous load of groceries.
- Make your own vegan meal as opposed to buying ready-made food.
- Limit your carbs and focus on fiber. This will help you when you’re feeling peckish.
- Don’t be afraid to snack, but make it healthy. A carrot, an apple, or a pear goes a long way in making you less hungry. Keep in mind that fruits are still quite a calorie and sugar-dense snack.
- Pace yourself, make healthy choices, work on your meal plans, and don’t beat yourself up if you eat one spoonful of peanut butter too many. After all, it’s all vegan!
What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?
The main difference between vegans and vegetarians is that vegan diets avoid ALL animal-sourced products. Vegetarians can still eat cheese, eggs, dairy, and honey. The only things they avoid are meat and fish. Vegans don’t eat any products that come from animals.
Is it better to be a vegetarian or vegan?
This question can be approached from many different angles. Ultimately, it’s largely down to personal preference.
Here are a few quick facts:
- Vegans turn away from vegetarianism because of animal cruelty. Eggs, milk, and other animal-sourced products are, unfortunately, often the source of animal suffering.
- Vegan-based diets tend to be healthier for your body.
- On the other hand, vegans run into nutrient deficiencies much more often than vegetarians.
Switching to a vegan diet is a lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes are never easy. You may run into unexpected obstacles; you may slip and fail; you may feel discouraged at times. However, the best thing about a vegan diet is that you can always go right back to it when you’re ready.
As going vegan may help you with weight loss, reducing blood sugar, cholesterol, and many other ailments, it’s definitely worth a try. Challenge yourself today and reap the benefits of your healthy choices for years to come!