Meal Plans For Vegans
Veganism is no longer a niche diet. More and more people are turning to the vegan diet as a way to lose weight, feel healthier, and reduce inflammation caused by all sorts of health conditions.
However, changing to and staying on the vegan diet requires a lot of planning and dedication. Among other things, this is due to the fact that it’s easy to fall back on non-vegan foods you’re used to, as well as the vegan diet being deficient in certain key nutrients and vitamins your body requires to function optimally.
Below are four things you can do to make sticking to the vegan diet as easy and healthy as possible:
- Avoid fake, Vegan-titled food as much as possible
- Find substitutes for your favorite non-vegan foods
- Supplement correctly
- Bulk cook
Avoid fake, vegan-substitute food as much as possible
As a vegan, especially when you first started, it’s tempting to go to the freezer section and buy as many Vegan substitute foods as you can find.
These typically take the form of vegan burgers, hot dogs, cheese, sausage, and so on.
While not always the case, these vegan substitutes can often be worse for you than the original food you’re trying to replace.
This is due to the fact that they often have to use a million different unpronounceable, processed ingredients to even remotely resemble the taste and texture of the food it’s trying to replace.
One recent example of this is the famous Beyond Meat burger.
As a rule of thumb, try to stick to natural, whole foods as much as possible.
If you do want to experiment with vegan substitutes, prioritize ones with short, readable, and natural ingredient lists.
Find vegan alternatives to your favorite non-vegan foods
Did you know that a portobello mushroom has a very similar texture to a hamburger patty? Or that a mushed up banana with almond milk makes a great batter for french toast?
If you can find natural vegan foods that fill the same voids as your favorite non-vegan foods, then you can minimize the chances of falling back on your diet.
And if this is the first time switching to a vegan diet, there will be urges. To stay on track, it’s critical that you have a game plan for when those urges strike.
A common urge is sweets, for example. With plenty of fruit around the house, you can easily curb your craving for an Oh Henry! bar by grabbing a bowl of fresh blueberries instead.
If blueberries don’t do the trick, try drizzling melted 100% cacao (chocolate) on top of the french toast recipe above.
For general snacking urges, nuts and seeds can also be a lifesaver.
For all the health benefits it provides, the main downside to veganism is that you risk not getting certain crucial vitamins and minerals.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in the absence of nutritious meal planning and proper supplementation, vegans risk being deficient in the following:
- Vitamins B-12: Keeps your skin, bones, muscles and organs healthy, helps your metabolism.
- Vitamin D: Helps your body to absorb calcium and promotes bone growth.
- Calcium: Builds strong bones.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Important in preventing and managing heart disease.
- Iron: Contributes to the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body.
- Zinc: needed for the body’s defensive (immune) system to properly work.
To minimize your chances of being deficient in any of these, prioritize eating the following foods:
- Vitamins B-12: Soymilk, almond milk, & some cereals (can be taken as a supplement).
- Vitamin D: Soymilk, rice milk, almond milk, & some cereals (can be taken as a supplement.
- Calcium: Soybeans & dark leafy greens (e.g. broccoli, bok choy, kale).
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Flax seeds, seaweed, and walnuts.
- Iron: Oranges, broccoli, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Zinc: Tofu, wild rice, and lentils.
On top of making sure your vegan meal plans consist of these foods, it’s also worth taking vegan-certified vitamins, whether that be in the form of a multivitamin or individual supplements for each of the vitamins and minerals listed above.
To cover your bases, especially if it’s your first time going vegan, get regular check-ups with your doctor, as well.
Bulk cook your meals
This isn’t exclusive to meal prepping for vegans, but cooking your meals in bulk is one of the easiest ways to stay on track with your diet.
All bulk cooking consists of is cooking meals for as many days as space and expiry dates allow for instead of cooking each meal individually.
For example, instead of cooking your black bean, wild rice, spinach, and pinto bean stir fry for just one night, prepare enough of each individual ingredient to last you the whole week (maybe even two if your freeze it).
This way, whenever you’re hungry, you can just quickly combine all the ingredients, heat it up, and have a healthy, vegan-friendly meal in no time.
And to make sure you always have access to your bulk-cooked healthy meals, bring them with you to work, class, and any other location that’s not home.
If you’re really serious, you can even bulk cook meals that don’t require any heat up (salads, for example). This way, you don’t even have to have a microwave to enjoy your meal.
As you can see, meal prepping as a vegan isn’t nearly as difficult, time-consuming, or inconvenient as you may have thought.
However, if you’re still not convinced, there’s one more thing you can try to make vegan meal prepping as easy as humanly possible: use a meal delivery service.
These services are often cheaper than restaurants, offer diverse menus catering specifically to vegans, accompany every meal with an easy-to-follow recipe card, and deliver everything you need to prepare your meals right to your doorstep every week.
Whether you prefer to use a service that provides you with all the ingredients and asks you to follow a simple recipe card to make the meal yourself, or you prefer a service like Freshly that delivers your vegan meals pre-made, meal delivery services can be lifesavers.
Plus, you can still enjoy the diversity you might get by going out to a new restaurant, but at a much cheaper cost and from the comfort of your own home. This is due to most meal delivery services having new menu items to choose from on a weekly basis.
Here are some more meal delivery services to check out:
The incredible health benefits that accompany a vegan diet shouldn’t be missed on account of difficult meal prepping. By following the tips and tactics above, you can enjoy your vegan meal prepping with confidence and ease!