How To Eat Vegan: Our 7-Day Vegan Meal Plan
A no-meat-eggs-dairy meal plan sounds intimidating. But done in small steps ‘ using our seven-day vegan meal plan ‘ you may just find that this is a nutritious and exciting way to eat
Following a Vegan Meal Plan
A plant-based diet can be a nutritious way of eating that’s affordable, delicious (oh yes!) and super-nutritious. In fact, research shows that an animal-free diet may be protective against heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Intrigued? We asked vegan food writer and recipe developer Lisa Pitman for advice. Read on for your seven-day vegan meal plan.
Monday: Consider Your Current Diet
Focus on vegan foods you already enjoy. “Your favourites are a great foundation to build on,” says Pitman. “If you love peanut butter and jam, that gives you one meal that’s vegan already, and then you start to think about what other things you can add in.”
Tuesday: Boost Your Breakfast
“Figuring out a new breakfast routine will really help get your journey off to a joyful start because, for most people, breakfast is probably the biggest challenge when they go vegan,” says Pitman. If you just stick to fruit first thing in the morning, she notes, you’ll feel hungry soon after, so make sure to add protein, in the form of a tofu scramble, chia pudding or hemp hearts in a fruit smoothie.
Wednesday: Try a New Cuisine
Rather than trying to convert all of your usual recipes into vegan meals, try something totally new. Be adventurous with Indian dishes like dal or aloo gobi, an Ethiopian wat, or a falafel with tahini dressing. Or, if you’re feeling the need for comfort food, start small with a new twist on an old favourite: Southwestern bean chili can be just as delicious without the meat. (Try our recipe for Four-Bean Chili – just omit the cheese to make it vegan-friendly.)
Thursday: Bulk Up Your Snacks
Nobody wants to start a new diet plan feeling hungry. “One of the challenges with plant-based foods is that they’re a lot less calorie dense than their animal-based alternatives,” says Pitman. So make sure you create snacks with some heft. Hummus and sliced veggies, whole-grain toast with almond butter and an apple with mixed nuts are nourishing nibbles that will fuel your body – and fill you up. (Try our roasted chickpea recipes!)
Friday: Change Your Protein Perspective
A lot of people think of a meal as meat with some sides, but if you take the same approach when going vegan, get ready for a whole lot of disappointment trying to find a protein replacement, says Pitman. Instead, try looking for meals where all the ingredients can contribute protein. Pitman recommends a dish like a quinoa salad with chickpeas and roasted vegetables topped off with a creamy tahini dressing, which offers protein from all of the components.
Saturday: Discover Dairy-free Fats
“When we think about veganism, we often just think about veggies, and that’s not enough to build a life around,” notes Pitman. There are plenty of ways to get rich flavours and creamy, satisfying textures, if you know where to start. “Avocado, coconut and nuts (especially cashews) and seeds can all be transformed into dressings, sauces, whipped creams, puddings and frostings,” she says.
Sunday: DIY for Dessert
Vegan cookies, cakes and pies are all possible with the right recipes. “You don’t have to give anything up; you just have to be more creative,” says Pitman. There are a number of replacers for eggs, like ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, applesauce and mashed bananas. For best results, try some tested vegan recipes when starting out. Once you become familiar with how to swap in vegan alternatives, you can try making your traditional stand-by desserts vegan. One of Pitman’s favourites is soft-serve made by blitzing frozen bananas in a food processor until they reach the right texture. Top it with chocolate chunks, toasted coconut or fresh berries.
Cooking for more than one?
If you share your meals, you may need to come up with ways to make dishes that please everyone, whether they are eating vegan or not. Pitman became vegan at age six, when she found out she had an intolerance to animal proteins. She was the only vegan in her house for many years, and the way her family worked around this was to choose dishes that had a vegan base but that had meat and dairy add-ons so everyone felt good about what they were eating. “We’d make a pizza, pasta or even a salad and make all of the basic recipe vegan; then we’d have some shredded cheese or some crumbled meat that had been cooked on the side to add,” she explains.