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Menu Plans for a Vegan Diet

You may choose a vegan lifestyle for ethical, health or religious reasons. Vegans are vegetarians who consume only plant foods and eat no animal products at all, including dairy and eggs. With careful planning, you can enjoy a varied, satisfying and nutritious diet while adhering to vegan principles.

Have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Top it with cinnamon, dried fruit, toasted nuts and calcium-fortified soy milk. For a calcium-rich lunch, make a salad based on dark leafy greens such as arugula, kale and spinach. Add additional vegetables, hemp seeds for protein, slices of avocado and toss the mixture with flaxseed oil, olive oil and lemon juice. The flaxseed oil provides omega-3 fatty acids. You can have fresh fruit or a whole-wheat roll alongside. For dinner, marinate wedges of firm tofu in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary. Bake until firm and chewy and have alongside mashed sweet potatoes, roasted mushrooms and steamed broccoli. Between meals, make a smoothie with soy or rice protein powder, fresh fruit and almond milk; or snack on a bowl of vitamin enriched, high-fiber cereal to help you meet your B-12 and zinc needs.

At breakfast, toast whole-grain bread and top it with peanut butter and sliced banana. Serve it with a glass of calcium-fortified juice. At lunch, lightly saute cooked whole-grain pasta with kale, chopped garlic, black pepper and protein-rich white beans. For dinner, have a bowl of homemade lentil soup made with vegetable stock, chopped carrots and celery, diced tomatoes and minced onions and garlic. Serve it with a small green salad and some quinoa, which provides 8 grams of complete protein per cup. At snack time, sprinkle some air-popped popcorn with nutritional yeast -- it's an excellent source of B vitamins and tastes like cheese. Make your second snack a cup of plain soy yogurt topped with flaxseed meal and fresh fruit.

Season soft tofu with salt and pepper and scramble in olive oil, like you would eggs. Serve the "scrambled" tofu in a whole-grain wrap with salsa and sliced avocado, along with a glass of calcium-fortified non-dairy milk. Eat a high-protein, fiber-rich lunch of brown rice and black beans topped with cooked zucchini and summer squash. For dinner, make a veggie burger on a whole-grain roll and have roasted potato wedges and steamed broccoli spears on the side. Snack on a vitamin-enriched English muffin with almond butter or baked sweet potato wedges topped with salt, pepper and toasted pumpkin seeds.

The average vegan diet tends to be rich in fiber, carbohydrates, antioxidants and vitamin C. A poorly planned vegan diet, however, is likely to be deficient in protein, calcium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12. The staples of a vegan diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, juices, soy products and grains. Talk to your health care provider about vitamin supplementation if you are concerned about meeting specific nutritional targets.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.