So you’ve been thinking about trying a vegan diet. Or maybe you already follow a completely plant-based diet and want to make sure that you are getting enough variety into your diet. Look no further! We surveyed a team of experts, sampled a few goodies, and read through some studies to bring you these tips to make being vegan easy and healthy—and yes, it includes ice cream and chocolate, plus plenty of healthy-but-delicious recipe inspirations.
Related: Is a Vegan Diet Safe for Kids? We Weighed the Pros and Cons.
101 Healthy Vegan Diet Tips
1. Learn the basics. For those who are ready to dive into plant-based living a little deeper, there are a ton of resources and products to get you on your way. “The website forksoverknives.org provides hundreds of easy to prepare, delicious and healthy, plant-based recipes that anyone can master,” says Dr. Patricia Thomson, Food as Medicine Summit & EXPO and TS Wellness founder. “Another website, www.pcrm.org, not only provides recipes but a wealth of factual resources to help the beginner understand the basic premise of adopting a plant-based lifestyle.”
2. Binge-watch vegan documentaries on Netflix. Just a few of the streaming channels offerings: Forks Over Knives, Game Changers, What the Health, Cowspiracy and Vegucated.
3. Tap into the documentaries’ resources. Not only do plant-based documentaries have tips on switching to being vegan lifestyles but many also offer recipe and meal ideas on their websites and social media pages. The Game Changers website has a whole “Food” tab on with information about nutrition and recipes. Forks Over Knives has an app filled with vegan-friendly recipes. And What the Health offers virtual meal planning services.
4. Start small and build from there. Making the switch cold turkey can be overwhelming so feel free to ease in. “Start by adding one vegan meal to your menu each day. Once you have that down, add in another meal until you’re eating 100% vegan meals,” says Stephanie Dreyer, a plant-based meal-planning expert.
Related: Could You Swap One Meal a Day for a Plant-Based Meal? Oprah Did It—Here’s How
5. Meal prep. “Meal planning is important to help you stay on track. It also helps for busy days when you won’t have time to spend in the kitchen,” explains Lisa Cheplak, the Chef Program Manager and Nutrition Chef for Green Our Planet, a Las Vegas-based non-profit conservation organization and creator of the nation’s largest school garden program.
6. Make a big pot of something. Cook ahead for the week by making a big batch of beans, quinoa, rice or lentils.
7. Arm yourself with vegan breakfast ideas. Experiment with smoothies by adding greens like kale and spinach, as well as your favorite fruit and chia seeds for protein. “Try a bowl of quinoa/oatmeal topped with nuts, fruit and almond milk,” says Cheplak.
8. A few vegan lunch go-tos could be a leafy green salad with a rainbow of color from carrots, bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Or maybe a vegetable wrap made with hummus.
9. Embrace Mason jar salads, Cheplak suggests. The possibilities are endless.
10. Stock up on vegan cookbooks. A few we love: The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson, Vegan for Everybody by America’s Test Kitchen.
11. For dinner, create a Buddha bowl filled with a protein, greens, vegetables, your favorite grain and sweet potatoes. Here’s a hearty one from the Minimalist Baker. “Meat-free soups and chili are also great choices for make-ahead meals,” Cheplak says.
12. Have some healthy vegan snacks in your arsenal. Try these No Bake Protein Bites, made from peanut butter, oats and a few other simple ingredients.
13. Embrace dips and dippers. Try vegetables and guacamole, hummus and cucumbers, and for a crunchy snack flax crackers or organic corn chips with salsa.
14. Make your own non-dairy nut milks in the food processor/blender. Why dig through labels to find a grocery store version that includes unnecessary additives like oils or controversial ingredients like carrageenan when you can make your own? Soak 1 cup of almonds overnight in 2 cups of water. Drain and rinse. Dump the almonds into a blender or food processor and cover with 2 cups of water. Blend on high for several minutes. Strain with a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth and enjoy.
15. Or buy a nut milk maker. Don’t have time to soak? Pop some nuts of your choice and water into a nut milk maker like NutraMilk and enjoy.
16. Experiment with your own nut butters. Nut butters can be a great way to add a protein boost to any meal. Spoon some into your oatmeal or spread a serving on a slice of vegan toast for a mid-day snack. You can make everything from almond butter to sunflower seed butter and beyond by pureeing nuts in a high-speed blender or food processor as well. Put 3 cups of the nuts of your choice in a food processor; add ¼ teaspoon salt and any additional flavorings that you like such as cinnamon, maple syrup, or vanilla extract. Get a step-by-step recipe at Skinny Taste.
17. Try a meal delivery service. Learn some new recipes by experimenting with meal delivery kits. Try Purple Carrot, which offers a 100% vegan menu. Green Chef, Sun Basket, and Hello Fresh also offer plant-based meal options that are easy to cook. Each week, you’ll receive recipe cards plus all of the ingredients needed to whip up a healthy meal in 30 minutes or less!
18. Stock up your fridge/freezer with pre-made vegan eats. Thistle delivers plant-based vegan meals that you can fill your refrigerator with that are already made and ready to go. Veestro has frozen meals you can pop into your freezer and thaw out for a busy day. Methodology delivers healthy 5-minute meals and has an array of vegan-friendly options. And Splendid Spoon can hook you up with ready-to-eat morning smoothies or soups and afternoon grain bowls, which make a weekday lunch a breeze.
19. Check your local grocery store for easy options. Amy’s, which is available at stores like Trader Joe’s and Wal-Mart, also offers vegan freezer meals like their Gluten-Free Vegan Meatless Pepperoni Pizza and Breakfast Scramble.
20. Get some plant-based groceries sent to you. Hungryroot sends sauces and ingredients with recipe suggestions. You can also try ordering via a service like Thrive Market, which offers discounts on tons of vegan snacks and pantry staples like nut butters, pancake mix, chips, sauces and canned foods.
21. Try some vegan cheese. Siete Foods makes a cashew queso that pairs nicely with bean burritos, vegan tacos, or can even be added to a grain bowl to give it some extra flavor. Violife Foods makes a Just Like Feta Block and Just Like Parmesan Block that are spot on. And Kite Hills Almond Milk Ricotta is just like the real thing. For sliced cheeses, pick up a package of Follow Your Heart’s Smoked Gouda.
22. Ask a chef to “create something” when dining out. With the plant-based movement growing exponentially, many restaurants are offering vegan options on their menus. But if you find yourself dining out and don’t see something that you like, ask the chefs to whip up something to accommodate your dietary needs. They often welcome the challenge.
23. Find some vegan to go. On the road and need a quick vegan meal? Hit up Chipotle where you can order a salad, bowl, or burrito. Just hold the sour cream and cheese and opt for just beans and veggies or try their tofu Sofritas.
24. Look for fast-food chains that offer the Beyond Burger. Carl’s Jr. offers a Beyond Famous Star. Just order it sans cheese. Subway has a Beyond Meatball sandwich. And Dunkin’ Donuts now has the Beyond Sausage Sandwich for early mornings.
25. Many popular restaurant chains have vegan entrees now. If you visit The Cheesecake Factory, try the Vegan Cobb Salad or their homemade Veggie Burger. PF Chang’s offers its signature lettuce wraps in a tofu-format and also has a tofu and vegetable based Harvest Thai Curry or the Buddha’s Feast. All of Tocaya Organica’s meals start off vegan and then can be modified with additional protein options; some delicious plant-based options include the Tortilla Soup and the black bean-infused Guiltless Burrito. And health-oriented chain True Food Kitchen has vegan entrees like its Butternut Squash Pizza and signature Unbeetable Burger.
26. When you need a splurge, hit up Olive Garden. The chain’s breadsticks are vegan, as the butter is made of soy. The restaurant also offers a variety of marinara sauce pastas, which can be enhanced with the addition of vegetables.
27. Search for a vegan-friendly restaurant near you. The Happy Cow app allows you to enter your location and find nearby vegan restaurants. It will also show you what you can order that is plant-based at non-vegan restaurants near you and offers reviews from other vegan diners who recommend what to get.
28. Decide on a local “go to” vegan restaurant you can always fall back on. Margaux Lushing, founder of Well + Away healthy guidebooks, suggests finding a great vegan restaurant in your neighborhood or a non-vegan restaurant that has great plant-based options. “Some nights we just don’t want do deal with meal prep. Having an easy go-to restaurant that you know can provide a delicious, easy dinner can help safeguard against any backsliding into old, non-plant habits,” she reveals.
29. Swap out your yogurt. So Delicious makes dairy alternative yogurts like its Oatmilk and Coconut. Blue Diamond has an AlmondBreeze Yogurt, which comes in a variety of flavors, as well as plain. And Lavva has plant-based yogurt that has a probiotic and prebiotic boost.
30. Buy some egg alternatives. Baking without eggs is absolutely doable. Try adding Just Egg to a dish. Bob’s Red Mill has a Gluten Free Egg Replacer. Or try cooking with Aquafaba Powder.
31. Make your own vegan egg substitute by using 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds combined with 3 tbsp. water, 2 tbsp. potato starch, or by using tofu in a scramble. Check out this vegan egg replacement cooking chart by PETA, which is full of options.
32. Get a protein boost by adding in a vegan protein powder to your smoothie, pancakes, and oatmeal. Genuine Health makes a Fermented Vegan Proteins+, which is easy to digest and contains 20 grams of vegetable protein per serving. Pure Food has a Raw Cacao Protein Powder, which can add a protein boost and a dessert like flavor to oatmeal, smoothies, and even pancakes. And the Garden of Life Meal Replacement – Organic Raw Plant Based Protein Powder is a meal in glass.
33. Stock up on vegan protein bars. Good to Go bars are vegan and keto-friendly and have 7g fiber and 5grams of protein. Julian Bakery’s vegan bars contain 20grams of protein from seeds. And PROBar Live bars are filled with healthy fats, protein, and a dose of probiotics.
34. Or make this vegan brownie with protein powder.
35. Have a vegan Valentine’s day with these fantastic recipes. (You just might get convert your sweetie.)
36. Supplement wisely. Give your diet a boost with the following supplements, which vegans should pay particular attention to: B12, vitamin D, Omega-3s (for a plant-based version try an algae omega like Ovega 3), Iron, and Zinc. Mykind Organics also makes an Organics Plant Collagen Builder.
37. Visit your doctor to update her on your diet and get specific recommendations for supplements.
38. Fill your freezer with some vegan ice cream. Just because you’re not eating dairy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the finer things in life, like dessert and lots of it! Snow Monkey makes an array of dairy free dessert crafted with fruit, superfoods, and seeds. Haagen-Dazs makes some non-dairy flavors.
39. Need more vegan ice cream options? OK.
40. Make your own vegan ice cream.
41. Combine two of the greatest foods—avocado and ice cream—in this Avocado Nice Cream recipe from Feel Good Foodie.
42. Try some veggie pasta noodles armed with an extra boost of protein like Banza, which makes noodles out of chickpeas or Tolerant Foods Organic Red Lentil Penne.
43. Create a vegan chocolate stash. Many commercial chocolate bars contain milk, making them not accommodating to a vegan lifestyle. But have no fear! There are companies that make plant-based chocolate for you to enjoy. Lakanto makes Sugar Free Monkfruit Sweetened Vegan Chocolate Bars. And for cooking, SoChatti has meltable vegan chocolate available.
44. Check out PETA’s guide to vegan chocolate, which provides many more delicious options.
45. Stock your cupboard with vegan-friendly snacks like Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas, Brad’s Kale Chips, Bada Bean Bada Boom roasted fava beans, Rhythm Foods Sea Salt Carrot Sticks and Navitas Superfood + Almonds.
46. Follow plant-based bloggers to pick up some new recipes. We love @Veegmama, ohsheglows, @elavegan, @thevegansclub, @veganricha, @frommybowl, @alexfuelednaturally, @karenshealingkitchen and @rainbowplantlife.
47. Get ready for the holidays. Make this Lentil Loaf and Mushroom Gravy with Mashed Garlic Cauliflower as your next main dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or next family get together.
48. Or try something from this list of vegan Christmas recipes.
49. While you’re at it, make it a year of vegan Christmas gifts!
50. Stock up on vegan condiments. Primal Kitchen offers dairy-free sauces like cashew Alfredo and plant-based vodka sauce. Instead of butter and mayo, try alternatives such as Earth Balance, Melt and Vegenaise.
51. Subscribe to a vegan magazine to get the latest news on plant-based food trends and recipes. Here’s a list of some of the essentials.
52. Swap a meat burrito for a bean burrito for a quick an easy protein-based meal. Add quinoa or brown rice for some fiber and healthy carbs.
53. Eat your iron with a side of citrus. “Pairing foods containing plant-based iron like spinach with vitamin C containing foods can actually make the iron more bioavailable to us, making it easier to absorb and utilize,” says Mia Syn, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charleston, South Carolina.
54. Opt for whole food protein sources whenever you can. “Vegan meat and burger substitutes are typically processed with additives used to achieve their taste and texture,” explains Syn. Thus, she suggests making your own veggie burgers at home and saving the processed varieties like Beyond Burgers and Impossible Burgers for when dealing with limited options.
55. Experiment with new foods. “If you like to cook and want to explore creating your own meat substitutes, let jackfruit and chickpeas to become your new best friends,” says Chef Joya of Cooking with Joya. Try these Easy Vegan Jackfruit Tacos or Creamy Chickpea Curry.
56. Or stick to what you know. “I find that making sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads are the easiest way to begin the transition because the ingredients can be used for multiple dishes and are simple to create,” Chef Joya says.
57. Don’t throw out your old recipes. The majority of the time, you can stick with the regular recipes you are accustomed to Chef Joya says, and, “all you have to do is omit the meat and substitute the dairy with plant-based alternatives. It’s really that simple!”
58. Find a favorite go-to vegan pasta sauce for easy weeknight dinners.
59. Embrace Taco Tuesday—the Mexican staple meal is so easy to make vegan in myriad ways (and great for mixed-diet households, too).
60. Make smoothies your new best friend. Blending your foods provides a great way for you to stock up on protein, healthy fats, antioxidant-rich fruits, and veggies. Try this Chocolate Almond Raspberry Smoothie from Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of betterthandieting.com.
61. Swap crumbled tofu for scrambled eggs, suggests Dreyer.
62. Try a portobello burger instead of a regular one.
63. Modify your family’s favorite chili recipe by using beans or lentils instead of beef.
64. At lunchtime, try a vegetable tofu wrap instead of a hot dog (or try a plant-based hot dog).
65. DIY vegan cheese. “Make your own version using nuts, spices, and nutritional yeast,” says Riley Rearden, culinary and nutrition manager for food delivery service Territory Foods. “There are so many great recipes online for these items that are nutrient-dense and don’t contain the additives and processed ingredients of the store-bought packaged ones,” he explains. Try this Vegan Cheddar Cheese by Loving it Vegan.
66. Read your labels. “Some processed vegan foods are loaded with artificial ingredients and genetically modified ingredients. These foods are not healthy options for a vegan diet and should only be used in moderation or not at all,” says Cheplak. She notes that “modified soy or textured protein, vegetable protein and soy isolates are genetically modified, made with harmful chemicals and are not beneficial for your overall health.” Thus, she finds it best to do your research about these products and know what is in your food before you eat it.
67. Put your veggies to work. The best thing about a plant-based diet is that there are so many ways to get creative with all the different food options. Cauliflower can be used to make pizza crust, buffalo wings, tacos or rice. Cashews can be used to make cheese sauces and vegetable dips. Lentils are also a great source of protein and can be used as a taco filling in place of meat.
68. Embrace fresh herbs, spices and seasonings to jazz up meat-free meals. “You won’t even think about what you are missing!” says Cheplak.
69. Make your own veggie burgers. Try this recipe from Inspired Taste (just sub for vegan cheese) or this simple 5-ingredient vegetable burger from Chocolate Covered Katie.
70. Add extra diced or ground veggies to your plant-based burgers, says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, a registered dietitian, who serves on the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living—it will increase your fiber and nutrient intake. “Also, high-protein grains like quinoa should be a staple to your vegan diet, because high-protein grains can give vegans an extra boost of protein to meet their daily needs,” she says. So feel free to go heavy on those as well.
71. Keep some veggie patty mixes in your cupboard. Joe’s Oats Patties makes healthy shelf-stable seasoned oat and quinoa blends that, when combined with water, can turn into crab cake, egg, chicken, or burger substitutes.
72. Trade recipes with your plant-based pals. Don’t have anyone good to recipe swap with? You might be surprised. Even those that aren’t 100% plant-based will likely have an occasional recipe in their arsenal that is meatless and would work for you.
73. Join plant-based groups on Facebook for even more support and resources.
74. Eat calcium-rich foods like bok choy, mustard greens, fortified plant milks, kale, fortified orange juice, turnip greens, collard greens and figs.
75. Focus on getting enough zinc by putting the following foods into your diet: tofu, lentils, pumpkin seeds, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, sunflower seeds and almonds.
76. Have fun with ethnic foods. Many Ethiopian food, Indian, and Thai dishes are centered around vegetables. Try curries, chickpea, lentil, and vegetable dishes like Dal, Biryani, and egg-free Pad Thai with tofu.
77. Use an air fryer to make delicious vegan snacks like crispy apple chips.
78. Remember the “plus-one” rule. Always add one more thing to a dish or meal you think is ready that will boost the nutrients. (Think flax seeds or a handful of spinach.)
79. Learn about the pegan diet. The combination of Paleo and vegan principles may be a better fit for your lifestyle than straight-up vegan.
80. Don’t pass up produce that is slightly past its prime. It could be great to add to vegan soups or quickbreads.
81. Try a vegan mug cake when you need a sweet treat.
82. In a relationship with a meat eater? Have patience and respect each other’s viewpoints.
83. Get inspired by vegan celebrities such as Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman and Liam Hemsworth.
84. Make Alicia Silverstone’s vegan peanut butter cups.
85. Make Niecy Nash‘s Vegan Spicy Pho Beef.
86. Make Ellen Degeneres and Portia DiRossi’s vegan red beans and rice.
87. Think outside the box. Yes, hummus can be dessert! A charcuterie tray can be all sweets! (You won’t miss the meat and cheese.)
88. Or try Vegan Breakfast Popsicles!
99. Turn your favorite comfort food recipes into vegan versions, like this vegan fettuccine alfredo.
90. Learn to make fancy vegan coffee drinks at home so you don’t get up-charged at the coffee shop.
91. Dust off that Instant Pot so you can make tons of vegan stews.
92. Keep it simple. There are tons of vegan recipes using everyday ingredients—you don’t have to spend a fortune.
93. Remember why you’re doing this. Make a list and refer to it every time you need motivation to keep going on your vegan diet.
94. Give vegan quickbreads as holiday gifts to share the vegan love!
95. Put these 10 kitchen tools every vegan needs on your holiday wishlist.
96. If you’re going to cheat, just don’t cheat with cheese. “Once you get rid of cheese in your diet, your tastebuds will change,” says vegan chef Pinky Cole.
97. Revel in all the peanut butter you can eat. Going vegan probably means giving up some of your childhood comfort foods. But you can still have peanut butter! Check out these vegan peanut butter recipes.
98. Make Chloe Coscarelli‘s vegan black and white cookies or salted caramel cupcakes.
99. Add vegan podcasts to your playlist. We love the Ordinary Vegan, The Bearded Vegans and Food for Thought.
100. Start your day with vegan pancakes. (Have your kids help!)
101. Calculate your personal protein needs. The standard rule is 0.8 grams of protein per 1 kilogram of body weight.
Still want to do more to save the earth? Check out these awesome eco-friendly gifts.
Source: Thanks https://parade.com/965361/nicolepajer/vegan-diet-tips/