Welcome to 2019 – the year of the vegan (apparently!). It’s officially #Veganuary (vegan in January) and a few people have reached out to me to say they are trying to add more vegan meals to their diet so I thought get a post together with some resources that might help. What a great way to start off the year with adding some plant-based meals to your plate. And I do want to say that it is easy to get into the mindset of thinking, “What can’t I have as a vegan?” but being vegan for me is truly about what goodness I can add to my plate, and what positive impact I can have in this world.
*Before I start I just want to remind you that I am not a dietitian or health care professional so please consult a professional for expert advice on nutrition and dietary changes I am just sharing some tips that worked for me in my journey to going vegan.*
Tip #1 for going vegan: GO SLOWLY, give yourself grace
It took me 6 months to transition from vegetarian to vegan. If you can go vegan overnight from a meat-based diet then go for it, but if it takes you some time, then give yourself some grace and do the best you can!
It also takes your digestive system some time to get used to the plant-based proteins (lentils, and all the beans to name some of them) so if you didn’t already eat lots of them then go slowly and don’t add more stress to your life worrying about what you are going to eat.
Tip #2 for going vegan: Meal plan
I started meal planning when I was an elementary school teacher and had 149,857,273 things to think about and stressing about what we were going to make for dinner didn’t need to be one of them. Planning our dinners was an absolute game changer and it made going to the grocery store so easy with a list. We also saved money on groceries because we have less food that goes bad, since I only buy things that we need for the next week. Ask your grocery store if they have a list of their vegan products. I know trader Joe’s has a list and that’s been very helpful when planning meals and getting snacks.
I don’t plan breakfast and lunch since we pretty much have the same thing- muesli, pancakes, or oats for breakfast and sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, but I plan dinners. I plan at least 3-4 dinner recipes and double them or make sure their are leftovers for at least one more night so I don’t have to cook and clean up the kitchen every night. I used to write them out on pieces of paper but now I just write them on the grocery list with all the ingredients I need so they are all together. I’ll put all sorts of meal, snack and treat ideas at the end of the post so look out for those!
Tip #3 for going vegan: Get some support
It’s a lot more fun trying something new like going vegan when you have some support! I love it when people reach out to me with questions about vegan recipes, meal planning or just share funny stuff that happens and silly things people say. Get a friend to try some meals with you, find some people in your community who are vegan or check out your favorite social media site (mine is Instagram) for vegans to bounce questions off or give you ideals for meals and so on. Having help and support is so much more fun!
Tip #4 for going vegan: Do your research
If you are trying vegan for a month you might want to start with some of the mock meats so you can continue to make your favorite meals with just a few substitutes or omissions. I used the Gardein Fishless Filets all the time with fries and veggies as well as in salads for an easy lunch to take to work. I bought the meatless ground beef substitutes until I learned different ways to cook tofu and tempe and certain veggies so I could save money and try to eat less processed food.
If you are wanting to carry on being vegan or eating more plant-based food, I would highly recommend talking to your health care provider, like a dietician about your shift in diet. I am on a Vitamin B12 , Vitamin D3 supplement and take Juice Plus (a whole food nutrition). Do your research to make sure you know where you are getting all your vitamins, nutrients and protein from.
Tip #5 for going vegan: Have fun trying new things
People think that when you go vegan you have so little to chose from when it comes to eating, but my husband can testify to the fact that we have never had so much variety in our meals than we do now! We used to eat the same three things over and over before I went vegan, but now I have become quite a cook and love making healthy meals. I still love good old comfort foods like pasta and pizza so I make those regularly too, just with some differences. We have tried eggplant lasagne, chana masala, all sorts of soups, falafels, stirfry, rice bowls, quesadillas and have loved all of them!
While you are going about trying vegan, give yourself some grace when you don’t get it right or you fall back to old habits. Change is hard and takes time. Remember why you chose to try vegan in the first place and let that motivate you to carry on!
This excerpt from The Guardian was a good reminder that not only is going vegan good for your health, but for the wellness of our planet too. “In May, scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet declared that avoiding meat and dairy products was the single biggest thing an individual could do for the environment. Joseph Poore, of Oxford University, who led the research, said: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth – not just greenhouse gases but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.””
You don’t have to go minimalist, zero waste, vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, zero sugar and marathon runner all in one day (or even in a month or one year) but making small changes like choosing what goes on your plate three times a day is a great place to start! I’m so glad you are thinking about trying some vegan meals and I say…”Go for it!” I’m here for you if you need anything!
Here are some meal, snack and treat ideas with recipes to most:
Vegan meal ideas: Lunch + Dinner
- Salad in a jar (3 recipes)
- Taco Salad
- Tofu Penne Pasta
- 15 Minute One Pot Chili
- Pinterest Favorite: Vegetable Pot Pie
- Falafel Salad
- No-cook Pita Pockets
- Summer Panzanella with Sourdough Croutons
- Caprese Sandwich (Toasted cheese and tomato)
- Vegetable Kebabs (skewers)
- Fusilli Pasta Salad
- Creamy Mushroom Soup
- Veggie kebabs
- Chana masala (Chickpea Curry)
- Spinach Chickpea Soup
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Falafel salad
- Sweet Potato Bisque
- Portobello Steaks
- Veggie burgers
- Vegan sloppy joes
- Dinner loaf + asparagus
- Vegan chili bunny (that’s an SA dish – bunny meaning in bread)
- Stirfry + rice
- Sushi (yes we make our own!)
- Flat bread pizzas
- Veggie wraps/burritos
- Pumpkin squash soup
- Cauliflower, tofu + bean salad
- Phad Thai
- Roasted red pepper soup
- Spaghetti + veggie balls
- Stuffed squash
- White bean baked burritos
- Sesame noodles with broccoli + almonds
- Okra corn soup
- Beet salad
- Cauliflower + leek soup
- Eggplant lasagne
Vegan meal ideas: Snacks, sides and desserts
- Mediterranean Olive Bread
- Apple Cobbler
- Morning Glory Muffins (great toddler snack or for breakfast-on-the-go)
- Fresh Fruit Crisp
- Vegan Sugar Cookies
- Tropical smoothie
- Lemon Hemp Blueberry Muffins
- Chocolate Oat Cookies (aka Lactation cookies for everyone!)
- Cranberry Cream Cheese Pinwheels
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Super Easy Chocolate Cake
- Granola Bars
- Berry Antioxidant Smoothie
- Fiesta Bean Dip
- Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Glowing Green Smoothie
- Raw Energy Bites
- Almond Butter Brownies
All the best! Let me know how it’s going!