Vegan Diet Plan – How to Create Your Own

Whenever I find myself apart of a conversation about the vegan diet lifestyle, it always seems to become focused on the barriers to adoption. In theory, it seems simple enough: if I stick to eating a plant-based diet, I will reap the rewards of increased protective nutrients that have all sorts of disease preventing effects. But then, the perceived barriers in adopting this diet become obvious. We immediately begin thinking about the replacements we will need to fill in for our dairy milk and cheeseburgers. What exactly is a plant-based diet in terms of breakfast, lunch, dinner, desert and a midnight snack? Below, I have compiled information from Vegan for Life and several cited sources to provide you with a important information on a balanced vegan diet plan that can be successfully adopted by many happy and healthy vegans everywhere. I hope you enjoy as I did!

swiss-chard

Vegan Food Guidelines

There are tons of barriers that I hear talked of consistently: “I love meat too much”, “I cant afford to be vegan”, or “I’ll become nutrient deficient”.  I’m going to focus on the last one because it provides us with an opportunity to discover that vegan diet lifestyles can indeed offer basic human nutritional requirements and even vitality.  We can easily achieve this and create great vegan diet plans by following vegan food guidelines. These guidelines offer a tool for efficiently planning meals to satisfy critical nutrient requirements and peak nutrition. Critical nutrients include: folic acid, fiber, potassium, calcium. vitamin D, iron and B12 (if your over 50).  As I read through various guidelines, I am finding that they typically include categories such as nutrients, food groups, life cycle stages and Mediterranean-vegan-fooddietary patterns(dairy or eggs etc.) According to U.S. dietary guidelines, the key to meeting peak nutrition is to consume adequate quantities of various foods to meet individual calorie requirements. This seems to be especially important for vegans who need to substitute animal-sourced critical nutrients with plant-based ones.

I am excited to share with you the simplicity involved in vegan meal planning. I love the variety of food options that exist. Once you are clear on what nutrients you need to be at peak nutrition, the necessary food groups and servings, the possibilities are endless! You can create a simple no-fuss diet plan or get creative with flavors, ethnic recipes and delicious substitutions.

The Food Groups

Whole Grains and Starchy Vegetables

These are your high fiber foods that also provide protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Whole grains are definitely ideal but fortified products can also provide important contributions for children and athletes. I like to think of it as making small changes that may not be the best but still allow us to move in the right direction.

Grains

Legumes and Soyfoods

Of all plant foods, legumes and soyfoods are the most protein-rich. They are among the few dietary sources that provide the essential amino acid lysine. They are also important sources of iron. Examples of legumes include beans, peanuts and alfalfa. These are thought to be similar to meats, poultry and fish in their protein contributions. Soyfoods are a sort of sub-category that include foods made from soybeans like tempeh, tofu, soymilk and veggie meats. They are not a distinctive nutritional requirement, but soyfoods can be valuable due to the delicious and nutritious options they provide in replacing meat and dairy products.

Nuts and Seeds

Moderate nut consumption can improve cholesterol levels and aid in weight control. Adding an additional serving from the legumes and soyfoods group is a simple solution for those who have nut and/or seed allergies.

Tempeh

Vegetables
Vegetables contain thousands of health improving plant chemicals and are superb sources of vitamins C and A. Leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach and turnip are rich in vitamin A, C and K, potassium, iron, folate and sometimes calcium. I have crossed paths with a fair amount of people who either dislike leafy greens or have minimal experience eating them. I like the idea of a slow introduction to these nutrient dense foods by mixing small amounts into soups and stews. Frozen vegetables are a good alternative to fresh for those with less time.

Fruits

Ideally fruits should be consumed in their fresh raw state, they are rich in vitamins C and A as well as certain minerals. Fruits also provide an abundance of phytochemicals.

Fats

Added fats are not essential for vegans but can contribute to a well-balanced diet.

Vegan-Food-Guide
Vegan-Food-Guide

Menu Examples

Below I have included food items that can be incorporated to create a menu specifically for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Using the vegan food guide above you can measure out the serving sizes as you plan your meals. Please note, the variety and possibilities are numerous, I have only given you a few examples but the possibilities are vast!

Breakfast

  • Muesli and other grains, soymilk, almond milk and other vegan milks, whole wheat toast and other types of whole grain breads, green and yellow plantains, sweet and white potatoes, peanut butter and other nut butters, banana, strawberries, acai fruit, blueberries, mushrooms, vegan butter, vegan pancakes (egg replacements include flaxseed, a water, oil and baking soda mixture, agar powder and a soy flour and water mixture. There are many easy to follow instructions on how to create these simple substitutions).Plantains

Lunch

  • Hummus, whole wheat toast, tempeh strips, vegan cheese, sauerkraut, tortilla chips, cantaloupe, carrots, vegetable juice, bean burritos, avocado, leafy greens, crackers, tofu, textured vegetable protein. Lentils and other legumes. Broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables. Tofu, tempeh, seitan. Vegan cheese, vegan mayonnaise and other vegan “dairy” products.

Dinner

  • Veggie burger, sweet and/or white potato, squash, zucchini, leafy greens. Yuca root, pumpkin, yams and/or other root vegetables. Leafy greens and microgreens. Tomato sauce and tomato paste. Pasta, gnocchi and other vegan pastas. Rice, couscous, quinoa, cornmeal and other grains. Chick peas and other beans. Vegan tortilla wraps.

Snacks

  • Olives and other fruits, vegan yogurt, vegan cheese, vegan ice cream. Mixed nuts. Dried fruit. Cereals. Vegan baked goods. Crackers. Avocados and other vegetables. Leafy greens. Vegan crackers. Vegan shakes and smoothies.

References

Norris, J and Messina, V. (2011). Vegan for Life. Da Capo Press. Boston, MA

Luciana Baroni (2015) Vegetarianism in Food-Based Dietary Guidelines. International Journal of Nutrition – 1(2):48-73.

Marilyn

10 Responses

  1. I saw a Korean TV show in which they featured vegan youth teaching the non-vegan practitioners about this lifestyle, the practice per se. From there, they shared that there are various types of vegan eaters. There are some who only prohibits meat, there are some who prefers fruitarian lifestyle. Vegan but only fruit eaters. 

    So, reading your post somehow appears to me a general view of the vegan practice. How about you? What can you say about this youth telling the viewers about different kids of vegan eaters? Do they really exist? 

    • I have no idea that show is about.  I assume since their is chatter about it that it might exist.  Thank you for the comment. 

  2. Creating your own vegan diet plan makes so much sense and this is particularly timely for me as we have a guest that is a vegan who is looking to us to provide for her needs while she is here. I was looking for some ideas on what we can throw together, but this article provides much more than that.

    The infographic that you have added to the post is perhaps the best one that I have found so far and I will be using it a lot as we plan out a week at a time the meals so we know that she will get the nutrition that she needs. I have to say that a lot of change or adapting is not required because our diet is largely in line with a vegan diet.

    One thing that we have had to watch for is with any processed or can food, there can be animal fats or even meat or dairy included as part of the cooking process. Do you have any suggestions on how we can quickly find a source for vegan compliant foods that may have been processed? 

    Of course, fresh is better, but there will be times during the week when we will be using things like canned legumes, etc. I really do want to make sure that she gets the foods she needs without having to break her vegan diet. Any further ideas that you may have would be appreciated. Great post and thanks!

    • Thank you for dropping this comment.  I do not know any compliant vegan processed foods off the top of my head but I do know they exist in Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  I hope this helps with your search and I hope you and your guest have an enjoyable week together.

  3. Excellent review about vegan diet menu. There is no doubt, being a vegan can not make one become nutrient deficient. I have learnt many great food combinations for breakfast,lunch and dinner meal. Getting this menu can ease one the ease of thinking about the diet combinations that can blend with our desired taste. I am learning everyday from this educating website. Sometimes, I do practice vegans way for the whole day especially during weekends. I will prepare corn pap and bean cake for breakfast, pouridge with veggies sauce and soybeans cake for lunch and wheatbread and tea for dinner. How do you feel with these combination? 

    • I think that those are a great start to your vegan diet plan.  I would suggest warming up your tempeh because eating it cold is not enjoyable with my experiences.  I would also suggest cooking beans because they are filling and full of nutrients.

  4. Thanks for this great article about Vegan Diet Plan. I have been a vegetarian for many years, and a vegan for some short periods, like a few months only. I wasn’t able to stay vegan for long, although staying a vegetarian has been always easy for me. 

    Maybe now with the proper, balanced vegan diet plan, I’ll be able to become a vegan?

  5. Loving your guide Marliyn,

    I’m not a vegan but I do love vegan food, they’re very healthy and I find myself eating that a lot. I’ve been learning how to cook vegan food now for my friends and I do love the tempeh veggie mix with the spicy sauce! So far that’s the only one of my dishes people like, do you happen to know any famous vegan menus that I can cook maybe?

    • Thank you for the comment Riaz.  Yes one famous dish is red beans and rice.  We love to have this all the time.

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