There is a lot of hype on social media right now about plant-based diets. Have you started to look into this way of eating, but you don't know where to start? How do you find new recipes that are healthy and aligned with being plant-based? You may even think you will be missing out on your favorite foods, or you will have to substitute with products that may be high in salt, sugar, or processed foods. This just isn’t true!
There is a whole new world out there with so many delicious healthy options just waiting for you to explore! We are here to help you navigate plant-based diets and give you jumping-off points on how to get creative in the kitchen.
What Is the Difference Between Plant-Based Diets?
Where to start? There are so many different plant-based options out there, from vegan to flexitarian. Some people decide to change their diets to plant-based because of health concerns, animal welfare, the health of the planet, or a mix of these reasons.
We are not here to judge! Whatever you decide works best for you and makes you feel the best is perfect! We will just be in the back, cheering you on and providing some yummy food options—more on that to come. First, let's take a quick look at some of the different plant-based diet options to understand what works best for you.
The vegan diet is really a lifestyle. Vegans don’t consume any animal products or products made by using animal products. Vegans also do not wear or use products that are made from animals. Here is a quick list of foods a vegan would not consume. Of course, there may be more to the list:
- Meat (Beef, pork, chicken, other poultry, other red meat)
- Dairy (Milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
- Some sugars
- Some beer and wine
Someone who eats a plant-based diet is a little more flexible and doesn’t always include the lifestyle component. People who eat a plant-based diet may still choose to wear leather and eat honey. As with anything, there are different levels within having a plant-based diet, and what works for someone else may not work for you.
A plant-based diet would focus on:
If you’re interested in learning more about what a plant-based diet is and how it differs from a vegan diet, we have a detailed article explaining the difference here!
A flexitarian is the most flexible of all—that’s where the name comes from. If you don't like to label yourself one thing or aren’t sure that you’re ready to totally commit to going vegan, then being a flexitarian would be your best bet. You can still reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet, but you can eat the buffalo wings you are craving once in a while. Being a flexitarian is all about what you want to add more of and less about what you want to take away.
Basically, flexitarians reduce their consumption of animal products as much as possible, while choosing more plant-based alternatives—including vegan proteins, so say hello to tofu, seitan, and all the other fab options out there. That said, a flexitarian will still occasionally eat animal-derived foods. It’s almost like a middle ground or a stepping stone on the way to full veganism. It’s understanding that every little bit helps, and starting at whatever level you’re comfortable with.
Whatever level of plant-based diet you have settled on and for whatever reason, the key to maintaining a plant-based diet is delicious food options. Luckily for you, we have made a list of some delectable options for your daily meals.
Delicious Plant-based Ideas: Breakfast
Some say it is the most important meal of the day. For many of us, it's not always the healthiest. Here are some options that taste great but also sneak in a little good for you.
Side note: worried about the cream you put in your coffee? Just switch it out for almond milk, coconut milk, or oat milk.
Muffins are the perfect on-the-go breakfast. You can pack them full of fruit and veggies like blueberries, bananas, apples, carrots, beets, or spinach. You can also add nuts to amp up the protein and add a little texture. Feeling a little sweet? Add in some vegan chocolate chips. Running out the door? Don’t forget your muffin!
Chia pudding is a great option for those busy breakfast mornings. Yes, you read that right, those same funny chia pets we used to love to watch grow. Those seeds are actually packed full of nutrients.
All you really need to make a good chia pudding are chia seeds, your choice of nut milk, and a sweetener. You can use sugar-free maple syrup or erythritol, whichever fits within your lifestyle. Give it a good stir, so it doesn’t have any weird clumps, and then let it sit in the fridge for at least two hours. You can make this the night before in a mason jar, so you can grab it on your way out the door! Add some peanut butter chips or fruit to the top to give it a little something extra.
Tofu “Egg” Scramble
If you are cutting out eggs, tofu “eggs” are a perfect addition to your culinary back pocket. It can be as simple as heating butter in a pan, adding tofu, turmeric, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Then, use a potato masher to get it to the consistency of scrambled eggs and let it cook.
Once you have the basics down, you can add in your veggies like onions, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach. Top with avocado to amp up the taste even more. You will not miss the eggs at all, and you are still getting your protein.
Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Who says we can’t have a little fun in the morning? Pancakes are super easy to make completely vegan, and then you can add in some extra good stuff. Toss in some flax seeds, protein powder, or even make them gluten-free with gluten-free flour. The options are endless. Don't forget to add in some chocolate chips. We may be grown-ups, but we still know how to have some fun!
Delicious Plant-based Ideas: Lunch or Dinner
We know you are a mover and a shaker, but you still have to eat! Whether you are working from home or going into the office or school, here are some healthy options that you can prep ahead of time and grab and go or are ready to throw together when you get home.
Sure, some days, it feels easier to grab some take-out, but making your own meals always bumps up the health points. Here are some options for lunch or dinner that are easy to put together and will fill you up!
Can you hear the collective sigh of all vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians alike? Sure, salads seem like the obvious option, but sometimes we crave a big bowl of crispy, green lettuce and tomatoes, with a buffet's worth of veggies and black beans, topped with a light vinaigrette.
Salads have endless opportunities, and they make the perfect weeknight meal. Throw in roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash, cooked lentils, chopped cauliflower, brussels sprouts, or anything else that strikes your fancy. The only thing standing in your way is your own creativity!
No-Tuna Salad Sandwich
No-tuna salad is made with mashed chickpeas instead of eggs and vegan mayo instead of traditional mayo. Other than that, you can add in what your mom used as a kid. This lunch option can bring you right back to lunchtime in the summer, or you can use it as a delicious side dish for a larger meal.
Grain bowls are a perfect addition to any lunch or dinner menu. The basic blueprint of a grain bowl is your choice of grains (brown rice, bulgur wheat, quinoa, etc.), protein (legumes or tofu), veggies (roasted or fresh), and a tangy dressing.
This is a great meal to prep ahead or an opportunity to use those leftover veggies. Grain bowls are an easy, nutrient-rich dish that you can whip up in no time.
Pasta and Noodles
Can pasta just be its own food group? Honestly, what is better than a steaming, hot bowl of noodles? There are so many ways to mix up pasta, and it is the perfect meal if you want a comforting meal.
A great alternative to traditional pasta is lentil pasta, which is particularly useful for vegetarians and vegans, thanks to the additional protein. Swap out standard pasta for the lentil version if you’re looking to make a more complete meal. Your pasta dish can be as simple as sauteed veggies over pasta or spaghetti with red sauce, or it can be more adventurous and make your own cream sauces using cashews.
Start Your Plant-Based Journey With These Recipes
Are you hungry yet? We sure are! Sometimes labeling yourself makes you feel like you are in a box and don’t have the creative freedom to get out of that box. But guess what? There is no box.
With these breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipe options, the possibilities are endless, and your creativity is as big as your tongue's imagination. What are you waiting for? Get cooking, and then treat yourself to some plant-based dessert in the form of one of MiiRO’s vegan white chocolate bars or their peanut butter cups!