A Complete Vegan Meal Plan and Sample Menu

  • 2 weeks   ago
  • 197
A Complete Vegan Meal Plan and Sample Menu
Vegan diets have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including improved weight management and protection against certain chronic diseases. However, finding balanced, healthy meals on a vegan diet can often be difficult and overwhelming. If improperly planned, vegan diets may cause nutritional deficiencies and health problems.
 
This article provides a healthy vegan meal plan and sample menu to get you started.

 

What is a vegan diet?

 
The vegan diet is an eating plan that eliminates all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey.
 
People decide to adopt veganism for different reasons, such as ethical concerns or religious principles.
 
Others may decide to become vegan to decrease their ecological footprint, as plant-based diets are thought to generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use fewer natural resources.
 
Still, the environmental impact of any diet depends on multiple factors, including the way that foods are produced, packaged, and transported.
 
Some also decide to follow a vegan diet for health reasons, as veganism is associated with a multitude of benefits and may even help prevent certain chronic diseases 
 
In particular, vegan diets have been shown to improve heart health, increase weight loss, and support blood sugar control.
 

 

Health benefits of veganism

 
Research demonstrates that a well-rounded vegan diet may improve several aspects of your health.
 
According to one review, vegans have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure than omnivores, or those who eat both meat and plants 
 
They also tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. High levels for these markers are all risk factors for heart disease 
 
Vegan diets may also aid in weight management.
 
One study in 18 women found that following a vegan diet for 6 months resulted in decreased calorie and fat intake, as well as faster short-term weight loss, compared to a low-calorie, omnivorous diet.
 
Some research also suggests that veganism may be beneficial for blood sugar control and could help reduce your risk of diabetes.
 
In fact, one study in nearly 61,000 people showed that vegans were 2.6 times less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than omnivores 
 
A vegan diet may also reduce osteoarthritis symptoms — including joint pain and swelling — and your risk of certain cancers, such as those of the breast and prostate.

 

Vegan shopping list

 
A healthy vegan diet should contain a variety of whole grains, proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.
 
Foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, soy products, and nutritional yeast can all help boost your protein intake throughout the day.
 
Meanwhile, avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are nutritious, vegan-friendly choices for healthy fats.
 
Here is a sample vegan shopping list to help get you started.
 

Fresh produce

  • Vegetables: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, kale, onions, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kiwis, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, etc.
 

Frozen produce

  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, peas, vegetable medley, etc.
  • Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, cherries, mangoes, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries, etc.

Whole grains

  • barley
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur
  • farro
  • oats
  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • teff

Breads and pastas

  • brown rice pasta
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • sprouted bread, such as Ezekiel bread
  • brown rice wraps

Protein sources

  • Nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, etc.
  • Seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, etc.
  • Soy products: tempeh, tofu, etc.
  • Protein powders: pea protein powder, brown rice protein, hemp protein, etc.

Dairy alternatives

  • Milk substitutes: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, oat, rice, and soy milks, etc.
  • Yogurt substitutes: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, and soy yogurts, etc.
  • Vegan cheese: vegan parmesan cheese, shredded and sliced varieties, etc.

Egg alternatives

  • aquafaba
  • arrowroot powder
  • chia seeds
  • cornstarch
  • flax meal
  • prepackaged vegan egg substitute
  • silken tofu

Healthy fats

  • avocados
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil
  • flax oil
  • olive oil
  • unsweetened coconut
  • tahini

Snack foods

  • edamame
  • dark chocolate
  • dried fruit
  • fruit leather
  • hummus
  • nut butter
  • pita chips
  • popcorn
  • roasted chickpeas
  • seaweed crisps
  • trail mix

Sweeteners

  • coconut sugar
  • dates
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • monk fruit
  • stevia

Spices and condiments

  • cayenne pepper
  • chili powder
  • cinnamon
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • ground ginger
  • nutritional yeast
  • paprika
  • pepper
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • turmeric
Note that many processed vegan products found at the store — such as vegan meat substitutes — are often loaded with sodium, fillers, additives, and other ingredients that may harm your health.
 
Try to stick to mostly whole, unprocessed foods — and steer clear of mock meats and other highly processed vegan ingredients and premade meals.
 

Sample meal plan

Here is a sample one-week meal plan that features a few of the nutritious foods that can be enjoyed on a vegan diet.
 

Monday

 

Breakfast: tempeh bacon with sautéed mushrooms, avocado, and wilted arugula
 
Lunch: whole-grain pasta with lentil “meatballs” and a side salad
 
Dinner: cauliflower and chickpea tacos with guacamole and pico de gallo
 
Snacks: air-popped popcorn, kale chips, and trail mix

 

Tuesday

 

Breakfast: coconut yogurt with berries, walnuts, and chia seeds
 
Lunch: baked tofu with sautéed red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and herbed couscous
 
Dinner: mushroom lentil loaf with garlic cauliflower and Italian green beans
 
Snacks: bell peppers with guacamole, fruit leather, and seaweed crisps

 

Wednesday

 

Breakfast: sweet potato toast topped with peanut butter and banana
 
Lunch: tempeh taco salad with quinoa, avocados, tomatoes, onions, beans, and cilantro
 
Dinner: oat risotto with Swiss chard, mushrooms, and butternut squash

Snacks: mixed berries, vegan protein shake, and walnuts
 

 

Thursday

 

Breakfast: eggless quiche with silken tofu, broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach
 
Lunch: chickpea and spinach curry with brown rice
 
Dinner: Mediterranean lentil salad with cucumbers, olives, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, kale, and parsley
 
Snacks: roasted edamame, sliced pear, and energy balls made from oats, chia seeds, nut butter, and dried fruit
 

Friday

 

Breakfast: overnight oats with apple slices, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and nut butter

Lunch: black bean veggie burger with steamed broccoli and sweet potato wedges
 
Dinner: mac and “cheese” with nutritional yeast and collard greens
 
Snacks: pistachios, homemade granola, and coconut chia pudding
 

Saturday

 

Breakfast: breakfast skillet with tempeh, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, and zucchini
 
Lunch: garlic-ginger tofu with stir-fried veggies and quinoa
 
Dinner: bean salad with black-eyed peas, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, and onions

Snacks: roasted pumpkin seeds, frozen grapes, and celery with almond butter

 

Sunday

 

Breakfast: whole-grain toast with avocado and nutritional yeast alongside a vegan protein shake
 
Lunch: lentil chili with grilled asparagus and baked potato

Dinner: vegetable paella with brown rice, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, artichoke, and chickpeas
 
Snacks: almonds, fruit salad, and carrots with hummus
 

Source: Healthline

Comments