Whether you’ve been a practicing vegan for a while now or have recently decided to follow a plant-based diet, know that just like any diet, there are healthy as well as unhealthy ways to go about nourishing yourself on a vegan meal plan. Here, we outline everything you need to know about vegan nutrition as well as some healthy vegan meal plans for weight loss or weight management.
What’s the difference between vegan and plant-based?
Before we venture into the plant-astic world of foods to avoid, as well as include, on your vegan meal plan for weight loss, it’s important to understand the distinction between being vegan and eating a plant-based diet. While being vegan does mean consuming plant-based foods, following a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re vegan. Confused? Read on.
Plant-based nutrition isn’t just anchored in wholesome plant foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, grains and nuts, but is also the elimination of all kinds of animal products and by-products from your diet. Plant-based eating is one of many parts of a vegan lifestyle. Embracing veganism goes beyond just what we eat but also rejects the consumption and use of any goods — clothes, cosmetics, furnishings etc. – originating from or tested on animals.
Vegan meal plan and weight loss
Now we’ve got that all cleared up, let’s tackle the nuts and bolts of following a vegan diet. If you’re reading this, then we can safely assume you’re looking to tweak your eating habits to lose weight or manage your current weight in a satisfying, sustainable way with some vegan menu ideas.
Studies show that cutting down on the consumption of animal products, and introducing more fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains, which are key ingredients in a vegan meal plan, goes a long way to reduce the chances of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
A vegan meal plan can also help support any weight loss efforts. A balanced, nutrient-packed vegan diet is rich in fibrous foods, that will satiate you, keep bad cholesterol in check and have your metabolism humming like a well-oiled engine. When going vegan it’s important to incorporate more plant-based protein into your diet and sometimes supplement your vitamin B12 levels, which have a tendency to be low in an unbalanced vegan meal plan.
Vegan meal plan grocery list
To maintain optimal health and vitality when on a vegan meal plan, aim to select fresh, seasonal, locally sourced, unprocessed and organic foods if they are available to you.. Here are recommended key ingredients to add to your healthy vegan meal plan grocery list:
Brown rice and oats not only keep you satiated for longer than their processed equivalents but are also a great source of iron. Ezekiel bread is a nutritional all-arounder, made from several types of grains, including sprouted whole grains and is chocked full of fiber. You might also want to give Coach Jenne’s healthy bread recipe a go. Millet, amaranth, barley and farro will keep you full, minimize spikes in blood sugar, as well as add more variety to your nutritional intake.
Butternut squash and sweet potato are rich in calcium, so no need to worry about ditching dairy products. Broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferous family and are cancer-fighting superheroes. Green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, and spinach will boost your iron levels and if you eat them with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, vitamin C will accelerate your iron absorption.
Legumes: Beans, lentils and soy
Legumes are the foundation of any well-rounded vegan meal plan. They deliver enough plant-based protein to keep your metabolism running, your muscles strong and your cravings at bay so you don’t feel the need to grab any processed treats when hunger strikes. Soy products like tofu, tempeh (fermented soy) and soy milk are foods that benefit your weight management efforts the most when consumed in their unprocessed and unsweetened forms.
Olive oil and avocado both have high levels of vitamin E, which is excellent for your skin health, as well as high levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Walnuts, chia and flaxseed (ground flaxseed is best) are high in plant-based omega-3 oils, an anti-inflammatory that helps your body release excess water or toxins. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which protects the lining of your gut, preventing nutrients from seeping through (leaky gut syndrome) and the development of food sensitivities.
Nuts, nut butters, and milks
Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios and hazelnuts,as well as their nut butter variants, aren’t only delicious but are also handy snacks to take on the go. Their high protein and calcium levels will keep you satiated, and you won’t need much else to satisfy hunger pangs. Calcium-fortified plant milk such as soy, almond and rice milk are particularly nourishing. Why not try making your own homemade almond milk or cashew cheese?
Berries, apples and bananas
Berries are free radical fighters, protecting you from inflammation and cancer, as well as helping your skin stay supple and young-looking. Bananas are a key ingredient in a lot of vegan meal plan baking and sweetening. Though high in soluble fiber, it’s best to be mindful how much you eat, as bananas are still high in sugar. Apples contain pectin, which feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, and a healthy gut leads to a healthy weight.
Note: Though there is a wide range of wonderful fruit to choose from, the ones featured above are our favorites as part of a vegan meal plan for weight loss and are also easily available.
Vegan sources of protein
In the app, 8fit vegan meal plans are tailored to fuel your weight loss and fitness efforts in a sustainable and wholesome way. We achieve this by making sure you get a high-protein vegan meal plan that energizes your body and mind. Here is a list of essential plant-based proteins to include in your vegan meal plan grocery list.
- Unprocessed soy products
- Non-dairy alternatives — almond, cashew and oat milks or yogurts
- Nori seaweed
- Nutritional yeast (also packed with energy-boosting B12)
Foods to avoid on a vegan diet
- Processed faux meats like vegan meats, e.g. sausages, burgers or tofurkey
- Sweetened dairy alternatives
- Vegan baked goods or sweets (Note: Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy)
- Fried foods
- Sauces like tomato ketchup, salad dressings, vegan mayonnaise, stir-fry flavorings
- Refined sugars
- Agave syrup (Agave is commonly used in vegan baking, but is extremely high on the glycemic index and can lead to spikes in blood sugar)
- Coconut products like oil, milk and cream (Note:Although healthy in small amounts, over-consumption can lead to weight gain)
Vegan recipes from the 8fit app
Now that you’re up to speed with everything you need to know about vegan nutrition for health, vitality and weight management, we have a few vegan menu ideas to tempt your tastebuds. Add these breakfast, lunch and dinner options to your weekly meal plan in the app.
Gourmet breakfast: Blueberry flax quinoa
Cheap and cheerful lunch: Sesame tofu and vegetable bowl
Quick and easy dinner: Warm and crunchy chickpeas
7-day vegan meal plan
Looking for a 7-day vegan meal plan to try this week? Use our vegan meal plan infographic as inspiration. Add each meal to your 8fit meal plan for the week ahead and you’ll automatically get a vegan-friendly grocery list in your app.
2-week vegan meal plan
Going vegan for longer? Try our 2-week vegan meal plan by adding each recipe to your 8fit meal plan. Ingredient amounts will automatically adjust to suit your weight loss or weight management goals.