There's a lot of plant based eating guides out there promising to help you thrive on a vegan diet, but most of these resources don't consider overall nutrition needs and macro balance to help you achieve your fitness goals. So here's a vegan meal prep guide that does.
- How to Start a Vegan Diet
- Customize Your Nutrition
- Vegan Meal Prep Ideas
- 20 Vegan Meal Prep Recipes
How to Start a Vegan Diet
Starting any new diet begins with identifying your personal health and fitness goals. For most, the reason for changing their eating habits falls into one of the following categories:
However, the vegan diet is unique in that plant based eating is also associated with animal welfare and sustainability. But if your main reasons for going vegan fall into less health-oriented goals like these, it is still important to think through how your eating habits impact your personal wellbeing.
So step one is to determine what you want to get out of your diet. From there you can begin to shape your menu to fit your unique nutrition needs.
The most important consideration for weight loss (or fat loss), no matter what type of diet you choose, is calorie control. Weight control is directly related to the amount you eat - if you eat slightly less than your body needs you will lose weight.
In other words, it is impossible to lose weight without understanding how many calories you need to eat a day.
You can fine tune this number using an online calculator or calorie tracking app that gives you a recommended daily intake based on your age, gender, body weight, and activity level.
Then once you know how much you should be eating, you number one goal should be aiming to consume that amount or less consistently. And the easiest way to accomplish this is by tracking your daily intake.
Muscle gain is weight gain.
Similar to weight loss, putting on muscle requires you to eat more calories than you need to maintain your existing weight.
In addition to eating enough calories for muscle gain, you'll also need to be strategic with your macros by getting enough protein and choosing quality options to promote more lean gains over body fat.
Moreover, muscle gain should involve a strategic fitness routine to put all those extra calories to work!
Some athletes also turn to vegan eating as a way to support their training.
Of course, it is entirely possible to poorly execute a vegan diet - after all, potato chips and oreos are technically vegan!
To get the most health benefits possible out of your vegan meal plan, you'll need to focus on choosing healthy options and balancing your intake to match your daily nutrition needs.
This also includes eat the right amount of calories to fuel your body and maintain your current weight.
Once you understand the basics principles of vegan eating for your nutrition goal, the next step is to fine tune your menu with quality options and optimized macro balance.
A vegan style of eating can already feel somewhat limited with the removal of large food groups like meat, dairy, and seafood. But it doesn't mean you can get tons of variety and tasty options.
The best vegan diet is the one full of nutritious options that you enjoy eating. If you don't enjoy the food, there is little chance you are going to stick to and stay consistent.
To keep your nutrition on point, opt for more whole foods like fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and legumes, as well as minimally processed meat and dairy alternatives to fill in the gaps.
Here a vegan food list to get you started.
Choosing the right foods is only part of it - getting the right amounts of each type of food is also key.
I'm talking about macronutrients. Macronutrients or "macros" are a way to organize your calories by looking at the main food groups that impact your health, energy, mood, appetite, and fitness.
The three macros are:
Each type supplies calories and important characteristics to the diet.
Protein is the builder macro, responsible for maintaining and repairing every cell in your body from your muscle mass to your DNA. Eating high amounts of protein is thought to beneficial when you are looking to lose body fat or gain muscle mass.
Because plants aren't typically protein dense, high protein vegan diet can feel like a challenge, but it's not impossible.
Fat is your source of long lasting energy, supports nutrient absorption and plays a role in hormone production. Fat can also make your food taste better and help you feel more satisfied.
A true benefit of veganism is that when you are eating only plants means you are typically loading up on more healthy fats.
Carbs are your source of quick energy. They also come from everything that grows out of the ground (aka plants)! Because of this, vegan meal plans tend to be naturally higher carb and it can be difficult to keep carbs low.
But carbs aren't bad and won't make you gain weight, as long as you choose quality, fiber-rich carbs and stick to your calorie goals. Many carbs are full of important nutrition and should not be avoided!
Here's your complete guide to crushing your vegan macros.
Now you're ready to put it all together and execute your vegan meal prep - which can sound a lot easier than it is. Well executed meal prep takes dedication and a bit of strategy.
But have no fear, we've got you! Meal prep is nothing more than planning and/or cooking some or all of your meals in advance. And it's also totally salable to your needs and skill level.
Here are some ways to help you simplify the process, including templates and tips to use:
Be honest with yourself, how much cooking can you do and how much cooking do you want to do? Once you can gauge your response to this question, focus on finding recipes that fit your culinary skill set.
Next, pick which meals you want to prep for. If you're new to meal prep, consider starting with one meal a day - like breakfast - or only meal prepping for a few days of the week at a time. If you go all in from the beginning, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and give up quickly.
Now pick which day works best to prep. You can prep meals the night or day before you eat them, or do multiple days and meals all in one day. Many people will cook their weekly meals on a Sunday or Monday to enjoy them all week long.
Then, grab a sheet of paper, calendar, or use this handy dandy meal planning template and map out your menu along with your shopping list. And don't forget to plan your snacks too!
Ding a full week's grocery haul at once can give you quite the sticker shock! On average, most people spend roughly $173 a week on groceries - and you spend even more than that if you are eating out often.
Buying in bulk and looking for sales are no-brainers, so here are some other tips to help you manage your budget:
- Skip the pricey health food trends. All nutritious foods are “superfoods” and you don’t need goji berries or bee pollen to transform your diet - affordable health foods like cranberries and sesame seeds work just as well.
- Make your sauces and seasoning blends from scratch. Packaged ingredients like sauces and seasoning blends can eat up your meal prep budget quickly, but can be super simple to make on your own.
- Cut down on food waste with better portioning. Buy only what you need or opt for meal prep delivery that provides pre-portioned ingredients to minimize waste and overspending.
- Reuse staple ingredients for multiple recipes. Make baked tofu seasoned three ways, turn sweet potatoes into mashed, roasted, and baked, and use your veggies raw and cooked to add variety.
- Grow your own herbs. Fresh herbs can add a ton of fresh flavor to your meals, but can get costly and often go bad unless you use them in multiple recipes. Keep them fresh and cheap with a simple herb garden at home.
Meal prep is also super time consuming. Some people spend hours cooking each week, not to mention the time it takes to plan your menu, grocery shop, and clean all those dishes!
Here are five ways to get more of your Sunday's back:
- Eat more foods you don't have to cook. Swap roasted veggies for simple side salads and fresh fruit, and grilled fish for canned tuna.
- Make more one-pot dishes. Spend less time cleaning dishes with one-pot meals like chili, stews, soups, lasagna, pasta, pilafs and stir-frys.
- Learn to batch cook staple ingredients. Dust off the old crock-pot and get familiar with sheet pan recipes to prep veggies and grains for multiple dishes at a time.
- Use some pre-cooked or semi-prepped ingredients. Reach for pre-chopped veggies, frozen fruit, and canned beans for recipes that are easier to toss together.
- Stop waiting in line at the store and get it delivered. Grocery delivery is one thing, but why not opt for a vegan meal prep delivery service that does the planning, shopping, and cooking for you?
To help you plan your menu and crush your macros, here are our favorite vegan meal prep recipes to try.
No, you don't have to live off cereal to be vegan. Here are five high protein breakfast recipes to start your day off right.
- Simple Tofu Scramble - Savoury and hearty. Mimics the texture and taste of cheesy scramble eggs.
- Vanilla Protein Oats - Creamy, sweet and satisfying with a punch of protein powder.
- Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding - Tastes like Thanksgiving in a cup! A great breakfast, snack or dessert.
- Easy Hummus Toast - Simple and ready in minutes. A higher protein alternative to avocado toast.
- Apple Pie Quinoa Bowl - Slightly sweet and nutty with a crunch. A nice twist on oatmeal.
Here are eight easy recipes with at least 25 grams of protein per serving.
- Grilled Tofu Bowl - Savoury and slightly nutty. Made with super simple ingredients.
- Vegan Chili - Thick and filling. Pair with fresh toppings like avocado or vegan cheese.
- Vegan Veggie Curry - Creamy with a kick. Toss in tofu or seitan for even more protein.
- Broccoli and Quinoa Bowl - Vibrant, fresh and perfect for on the go.
- "Beef" Burrito Bowls - Hearty and satisfying. Add more spice to bring up the heat.
- Vegan Veggie Pasta - Simple and refreshing. Swap in your favorite veggies.
- Vegan Beyond Meat Tacos - Traditional crowd pleaser. Change up the flavors with toppings.
- Roasted Veggie Sandwich - Crunchy, creamy, and fresh tasting. A perfect easy meal.
Here are incredibly easy, grab-and-go high protein vegan snacks to add to your daily prep.
Here are some healthier dessert options to satisfy your sweet tooth!
- Dark Chocolate Brownies - Rich, decadent, and creamy. Also gluten-free, high protein, and nutritious.
- Vegan Chocolate Chip Mug Cake - Tastes like cookie dough without the dairy and eggs.
Vegan Meal Prep Delivery
Feeling overwhelmed with your weekly meal prep and wondering how you can eliminate nearly all the work? Check out our high protein vegan meal plans.
It's like having a personal chef and dietitian plan, prep, and ship all your food right to your door. You juts need to sit back, heat and eat them!