Cooking with just plants might seem a little daunting at first but it doesn’t take long to get into a routine of understanding just how to prepare and cook delicious food. So what do vegans eat? I get excited just writing this list of foods as there are so many delicious options and combinations.
Legumes – beans, chick peas, peas, lentils. These are high in protein, minerals & fibre and low in calories which make them a great staple.
Nuts – a good variety – e.g. peanuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, almonds. Nuts are very different as they contain different levels of minerals, its good to have a variety of nuts.
Seeds – e.g. linseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seed and pumpkin seeds.
Tofu or Tempeh – a concentrated source of protein. If you are a tofu critic, you may just need to master the art of marination - Please click here for my favourite tofu marinade.
Seitan – a very tasty and easy to work with wheat based protein.
Quinoa – a source of protein and carbohydrate.
Meat substitutes – minces, sausages, crumbed faux meats.
Calcium fortified plant milks like soy or almond milk.
Soy, almond or coconut yoghurts (unless fortified soy contain the most calcium).
Its best to aim for a good serve of 3 rich calcium sources a day.
Nutritional yeast – just use in place of parmesan (try this pesto) or use to make cheesy sauces.
Avocado – you’ll be surprised how much you don’t miss cheese when adding avocado to your burrito, sandwich or taco.
Vegan cheeses – there are a large variety available now with a base of coconut or nuts.
Fruits & Vegetables!
All of them...
Including sea vegetables – you may include small amounts of seaweed such as nori, dulse & wakame to get some essential iodine. Recipe ideas include sushi, wakame salads or this mug of miso soup. You can also buy some dulse flakes from a health food shop and sprinkle them on anything.
Wholegrains - a source of B vitamins, minerals, fibre and energy.
e.g. quinoa, brown rice, wheat, rye, oats, corn, buckwheat, millet.
A B12 source
Nutritional yeast (B12 fortified), faux meats (B12 fortified), plant milks (B12 fortifed), Vegemite (B12 fortified).
You will need B12 fortified products multiple times a day or take a B12 supplement.
Herbs and spices (turmeric, cumin, paprika, garlic, basil, ginger, coriander, chilli etc).
Sauces & pastes - including miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli sauce, maple syrup, hoisin.
Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt may provide additional probiotics and nutrients such as vitamin K2.
Indian foods such as legume curries e.g. Dahl. Creamy curries using coconut milk.
Mexican food - burritos and tacos with beans, soy or walnut mince.
Japanese foods – vegan sushi, ramen bowls with tofu.
Vietnamese foods – tofu cold rolls, noodle bowls.
Stir-fries with added cashews or tofu.
Lentil and kidney bean chilli.
Buddha bowls – Usually involve a protein, a carb and vegetables with a sauce. Common additions include legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, vegetables, avocado, quinoa or rice.
Italian – pastas including vegan bolognaise, vegan pizza, pine nut, olive oil and basil pasta, minestrone soups.
Lentil and pea soup.
Lentil, chickpea, back bean, burgers.
Sauteed brown lentil and kale with steamed quinoa.
Snacks: hummus, pesto and pita, roasted chick peas, olives, fruit, nuts, seeds.
Smoothies and smoothie bowls - the options are endless with colourful fruits, frozen bananas or avocado, green leafy vegetables, plant milks then garnished with nuts, cacao nibs, fruit, seeds and coconut.
For more detail, recipes and ideas including ways to get enough enough nutrients in the diet please see my nutrient analysed meal plan with 33 recipes including many listed above!
Jane Whitbread – Nutritionist and Dietitian (APD)
Founder of Blue Lime Nutrition