Ok so you get that eating more plants and less animals is a good thing, and you know processed food does you no good… but how exactly do you put that into action, right? I mean, where do you even start? First of all, you do NOT need an arsenal of 365 vegan recipes before you can get started. Most people have just about a dozen recipes that they rotate through all throughout the year, sprinkling in variety for whatever is in season, and possibly changing it up for special occasions. But for an everyday meal plan at home, it doesn’t have to be complicated. The good news is you’ve probably been eating lots of healthy vegan food without knowing it, OR you can make just a few simple tweaks and you’re off and running! But, we all know pictures are worth 1000 words, so…
Allow me to share what I eat in a typical day! The beauty of this system of eating whole plant foods is that the same plan can work for just about anyone, with a few minor adjustments.
Breakfast – I always start with veggies. And I mean always as in maybe twice a year I have something else first. This is a crucial element that makes my life easy. Notice I didn’t say this was the only way to be, and that if you can’t do VFB (Veggies for breakfast), you can’t succeed? Never said that. What I said is that this is what makes my life easy! Starting the day with something nutrient dense and low in calories, and something savory as opposed to sweet is one of the best principles I’ve learned so far from Chef AJ and JP’s Ultimate Weight Loss Program! I did an entire blog post just about VFB a while back but it’s still a great read.
On the left is a fancy day where I had leftover veggie stir fry, some cooked carrots, air fried sweet potatoes, and a generous dollop of homemade hummus. Figure it’s about 1 1/2 lbs of veggies and 1 – 1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes. I wait til I’m hungry, usually sometime after my workout, and settle down for a delicious refueling. On the right is a more common day, 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of steamed veggies, and a big potato. Often my breakfast is eaten out of a Tupperware at a playground or in the car waiting for the next activity. This stuff is just as portable as junk food, I promise!
Lunch – I love a giant chopped salad for lunch, ideally with lots of beans for starch and protein. I use flavored balsamic vinegars for dressing to avoid all the fat, excess calories, and heart un-healthy effects of oils. When I’m hungry again after this I’ll have some starch (potato, rice, quinoa, etc) and then some fruit. I love to have fruit mixed in with my salads. On days I’m extra hungry I’ll add in some olives, pumpkin seeds, and/or avocado for extra calories. If you’re trying to lose weight you might want to skip those. Here’s a demo video on my YouTube channel that shows I can pre-make chopped salads that last all week.
Dinner – Simple is best but if I make a recipe with more than a few ingredients, it’s always for dinner! I usually keep my breakfasts and lunches super simple to make food prep easy. When food prep is easy and takes no brain power, I have good food available and I eat it! That means I stay on my plan, my balanced brain remains intact (free of cravings and crazies), and everyone’s happy. I typically eat another pound of steamed veggies before dinner, and for the main course here are a few of my favorite dinners. Chef AJ’s Lentil Loaf from Unprocessed, Baked Falafel and Green Sauce from Chef Del Sroufe, and Broccoli Bisque from Mary McDougall along with a big salad and air fried yukon golds.
When I’m hungry between meals I reach for fruit or more starch, and if I’m feeling up to a fancy treat, I whip up a batch of “nice cream”. Here’s one of my absolute favorite recipes, one of the first I ever posted!
Fresh Mint Nice Cream with a drizzle of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar.
To total it all up, in a typical day, let’s estimate I eat about 2-3 lbs of veggies, a giant salad with starch, 2 pounds of potatoes, a bowl of soup, and a bean based entree like lentil loaf or falafel. Obviously this changes from day to day, but the general proportions are about the same. By eating my veggies first and the starches second, I eat as much as I want without worrying about getting enough nutrients or calories, and I don’t worry about overeating because I’ll fill up before I exceed my caloric need! There is a ton of fiber in all of this plant food and the high volume of starch makes it very satiating. As a side note – any time I’ve met someone who “tried to be vegan and it didn’t work” it was someone who tried to live on carrot sticks and celery sticks. They were afraid to eat potatoes and rice because they heard these things make you fat…. Don’t be that person!