This easy vegan meal plan is packed with delicious plant based meals and is easy enough for beginners. If you are looking to embark on a plant based eating adventure, be sure to read this meal plan!
While this is technically a five day vegan diet plan, there are a whopping 15 recipes included. You can certainly adhere to making each item on the day it is planned, but there are likely to be leftovers to tide you over in case of an emergency.
Plant-based eating might take some getting used at first, but these vegan menu ideas will make it easy to turn it into a lifelong routine. It is filled with easily digestible (pun intended) dishes, tips and tricks to get you rethinking your eating.
What Can Vegans eat?
While some people think vegans have a restrictive diet, you rarely hear about how plentiful the plant-based eating truly is. Sure, vegans don't eat meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey, but that’s just a handful of things to avoid.
Think of all of the wonderful things you can and should eat - fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, grains and seeds!
And to the delight of many vegans, there are now so many plant-based alternatives to dairy products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream. Heck, there are even vegan burgers, chick'n tenders, pizza and sausages out there that are totally tasty.
Want some proof? Here are some of my favorite vegan recipes that mimic your favorites from the omnivorous days:
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese - I sprinkle this magic on just about everything
- Mongolian “Beef” - if you're craving a PF Chang's copycat recipe, you'll love this
- Mac and Cheese - because you can't actually give up mac & cheese now can you?
- Chick’n Nuggets (aka my popcorn tofu) - for the kiddos or the young at heart
- Crumbled Bacon Bits/Chorizo/Sausage - these little crumbles can replace lots of different foods
- Chicken Noodle Soup - just like mom used to make - only vegan!
And if you’re still hung up on the things you feel you might be giving up, let me give you a little pep talk on how much you’ll gain from living a vegan lifestyle.
There are numerous scientific studies that indicate vegetable based diets are a boon to your health. From improving heart health to increasing weight loss and stabilizing blood sugar, plant based eating can help you improve a multitude of factors concerning your health.
Plus we're helping our animal friends AND the planet - another 2 wins for a vegan diet.
This vegan meal plan ensures that you are getting your nutrients every single day. You’ll have plenty of protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, and minerals to ensure that you’re living your best life, all while eating delicious and inventive dishes.
So what are you waiting for? Take control of your health today by trying out this easy five day vegan meal plan.
What is a vegan meal plan?
I’m sure you’ve all heard the old adage: “Having a goal without a plan is just a wish.” By having a plan ahead of time, you’re more likely to follow through and have success.
So what exactly is a vegan meal plan? It is just the way it sounds: it is a tool that I have created to help you get plant based meals on the table without having to wonder, “what should I eat today?” It is here to help you get the results you desire from a vegan diet.
It has been said that it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to create a habit. If plant based eating is something you want to perpetuate, you need to give yourself the resources to create that habit. HINT: this is one of those resources!
Once you get through the first month or so of eating vegan, I’d bet you’ll fall into a rhythm quite naturally. But until you get the hang of it, I’m here for you. Once you complete this easy five-day vegan meal plan, I have another lined up for you to fill in the gaps.
And of course, my entire blog is dedicated to healthy, tasty and easy vegan eating, so please feel free to peruse all of my recipes to find new and exciting foods that are totally accessible to a normal home cook.
How to make your own meal plan
As stated above, you’re not always going to need the training wheels of a premade meal plan. Once you get into the swing of plant based cooking, you’ll start to be able to plan your own meals in a healthy and nutritious way.
One thing to keep in mind when you do start to venture out on your own is that you want a well-rounded meal with all three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. “Macros” are the three classes of nutrients required in large amounts to maintain body functions and carry out the activities of our daily lives.
There is no “one size fits all” model of how you should break down your exact macros because we are all so different. While one person does well with more carbs in their diet, some feel better with more fat or protein.
Dietary reference intakes suggest that adults consume 45% to 65% of their total calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat, and 10% to 35% from protein so do what feels good to you within those ranges or according to your personal healthcare provider.
When working with my clients, we come up with a plan according to their unique needs and lifestyle. In general, I usually recommend focusing on getting a combination of healthy (aka complex) carbohydrates, a plant-based protein, and some healthy fat for each meal in the quantities that feel best to their bodies.
Some of my favorite carbs are winter squash (e.g. butternut, pumpkin, acorn and delicata), whole grains (e.g. oats, barley, quinoa and brown rice), and sweet potatoes. I'll also do some gluten-free & bean-based pasta sometimes because I do love me some pasta.
In terms of fats, avocados and coconuts can be enjoyed both as whole foods or in oil form. Nuts and seeds also add to our fat intake. And don't forget extra virgin olive oil which has been shown in many Mediterranean Diet studies to help with heart health.
Protein options include legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, protein powder, soy curls, and seitan (note: seitan is not gluten-free just in case you have a gluten sensitivity/intolerance).
Besides looking at macronutrients, I tell all my clients to try to “eat the rainbow.” This means, that you should try to eat vegetables in as many different colors as possible every single day. Each color is associated with different phytonutrients, so the more colors you eat, the more vitamin and minerals you'll be ingesting.
Once you decide on your meals, write out which recipes you'll eat each day to create your own meal plan with the meal plan template and use the shopping list in my Vegan Made Easy Guide.
If all of this seems intimidating to consider, don’t fret! If you are new to living the vegan lifestyle, you can check out my Going Vegan post and try this easy 5 day vegan meal plan.
As they say, walk before you run, am I right? Soon enough, you will know just what to do. And I’m here to help you along the way.
Vegan Meal Plan Tips
Vegan meal planning Step 1: Choose your Meals
Doing your own vegan meal planning in the future is something I highly recommend. I’m sure you know the feeling of getting home after a stressful day at work and not knowing what’s for dinner. Clearly you have to eat, but if you haven’t made a plan, you may end up calling for takeout. I, for one, am guilty of having done that more often than I care to share.
On the weeks that I meal plan AND meal prep, I’m much more likely to eat nutritiously. So, first up, you should decide on the meals that you want to eat. Don’t get too carried away at first! I don’t want this to feel like a chore. And if you’re okay eating leftovers a few times a week, you really only need to plan for a few dishes rather than 3 squares per day.
Inspiration can come in many forms - from magazines and tv shows to blogs (like mine!) and cookbooks, there are about a gazillion vegan recipes floating around out there. If you’re new to cooking (or even new to vegan living), I recommend starting with a few simple recipes that you’ll be able to refer back to often.
I also recommend that everyone come up with a list of 1-2 “backup plan” meals. Here’s the scenario: you started your day with the best of intentions. Maybe you even got around to writing in your journal or doing a sun salutation before work. You had a nice vegan breakfast at home and your delicious veggie-filled packed lunch to get you through the day until you could come home and cook a delightful dinner.
And then, BOOM! Life happened. You got a flat tire, or your pup got sick. Maybe your kid forgot to tell you that they need to build a diorama by tomorrow and she doesn’t have any of the supplies. Whatever the story, you need a back up.
In my kitchen, always have:
- Frozen veggies for an easy stir fry
- Pre-baked store-bought tofu
- Cooked rice or quinoa on hand for one of my bunny bowls
- Canned chickpeas, coconut milk, and crushed tomatoes for my easy and delicious Roasted Tomato Chickpea Soup
Check out this post on my 10 Essential Kitchen Staples and my Vegan Made Easy guide to see what kind of backstock I recommend keeping on hand.
Step 2: Grocery List and Shopping
Once you’ve created your list of meals, do a deep dive into your kitchen and see what you’ll need from the store. Make a detailed list of the groceries you need for the specific meals you’re cooking, as well as any RTE snacks to carry you through between cooking.
Ideally, once you make your list, stick to it. This will not only save you money on impulse buys, it will also help you make healthier decisions. From my experience, impulse purchases are almost entirely unhealthy.
TIP: I highly recommend eating a veggie-packed meal before heading out on your grocery expedition. When I’m hungry, I have far less impulse control over my grocery purchasing behavior than when I’ve had a decent meal. Alternatively, opting for grocery pickup or delivery is also a proven method to help stick to the list.
If you do go to the grocery store in person, I recommend sticking mostly to the perimeter of the store. Most of the real, whole foods live there while the center aisles are loaded up with a lot of junky processed foods (not that treats aren't okay every once in a while - I'm all about moderation). Granted, the center aisles also have the grains, legumes and spices, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule.
Step 3: Prepping
If you really want to set yourself up for success, I’ve found that setting aside some time on a day off to do light meal prep will greatly increase my chances for actually cooking throughout the week. 2-3 hours spent investing in your healthy cooking will save you tons of time and stress mid-week.
When you get back from the grocery store, a few things you can do are:
- Wash, dry, and cut your vegetables
- Make a big batch of grains (e.g. quinoa or brown rice) to stretch throughout the week
- Portion your snacks into grab-and-go containers for work
- Prepping jars of overnight oats or smoothie packs for fast breakfasts
- Make a batch of soup and divvy it up into containers for packed lunch
I’m not here to convert you into a hardcore meal prepper lifestyle. I tried to be that kind of person, and it honestly burned me out. But just spending a few hours every Sunday has helped to ensure that I’m set up for success, week after week.
For more tips and tricks, check out my post on vegan meal prepping.
Vegan Menu Ideas
Without further ado, here is the menu for my easy 5 day vegan meal plan!
Breakfast: Vegan Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
If you haven’t yet tried the revelation that is baked oatmeal, now is the perfect time to start. Make this on Sunday for an easy, premade breakfast to start your week off right.
Lunch: Creamy Vegetable Soup
Another great dish to make on your meal prep Sunday, this Instant Pot Creamy Vegetable Soup is a real showstopper. In just 30 minutes and with a single pot, you’ll have six servings of delicious soup that can easily be frozen for future meals.
Dinner: Tofu Green Bean Stir Fry
This takeout fakeout is even better than what you’d get at a restaurant, and it’s free of MSG to boot. Serve it with some brown rice or quinoa for a guilt free and craveable dinner!
Breakfast: Berry Breakfast Polenta
If you thought polenta was just for savory applications, you’d be wrong. This super simple and quick corn-based porridge is topped with a decadent berry compote and a dreamy cashew cream. Your morning sweet tooth will be satisfied while keeping your sugar intake low.
Lunch: Buffalo Soy Curl Salad
I’m crazy about anything buffalo flavored, and these buffalo soy curls are no exception. This dreamy salad tastes like it is sinful, but it is perfectly angelic. Go ahead and help yourself to seconds. If you're not a fan of hot stuff, try my Vegan Chicken Salad in a wrap or sandwich instead!
Dinner: Vegetable Bean Casserole
This veggie bean casserole is comfort food to the max. Packed with vegetables, white beans, and rice in a creamy sauce and topped with crispy bread crumbs, it is sure to delight the whole family. And it only takes 5 minutes worth of prep time, making it perfect for a weeknight meal!
Breakfast: Peantu Butter Chocolate Overnight Oats
Prep this on Tuesday for an easy breakfast Wednesday. This refined sugar free breakfast takes all of five minutes to stir together, then you can let the magic happen in the refrigerator all night. If you were a fan of Reese’s before making the leap to vegan-hood, this yummy and convenient breakfast will hit you in all the feels. And I have a feeling your kiddos will love it too!
Lunch: Healthy Ramen Noodle Salad
This delicious salad is packed full of veggies and is oil free. Just 15 minutes of work will get you a full five servings, so you can feed yourself and your family all in one go. You can even add a little baked tofu for extra protein.
The dressing has peanut butter in it, so it’s a hit with kids but if the kiddos have peanut allergies, you can sub almond butter or tahini (sesame seed paste).
Dinner: Teriyaki Tempeh
It’s hump day already, can you believe it? I’ve saved a special recipe for your dinner to celebrate. This Teriyaki Tempeh is my most popular recipe on the blog, and with good reason! Serve it with your favorite veggies and rice (or another grain) for an extremely satisfying mid-week meal.
Breakfast: Chocolate Berry Smoothie Bowl
I’m not sure if you have noticed, but I have a bit of a sweet tooth when it comes to the morning time. This Chocolate Berry Smoothie Bowl is decadent enough to eat for dessert but has zero guilt and all the antioxidants.
Lunch: Vegan Ranch Pasta Salad
This creamy, bacon-and-ranch flavored pasta salad is perfect for potlucks, BBQs and, of course, mid-week lunches. Even though it tastes naughty, it’s filled with good-for-you vegetables, so you can rest easy knowing you’ve done right by your body.
Dinner: Vegan Buffalo Chicken Skillet
This is another one-pot wonder, and it is sure to scratch your buffalo craving itch. The whole family will love this dish (you can make it less spicy for the kiddos), and it is absolutely perfect fare for Thursday night football.
Breakfast: Vegan Yogurt Parfait
If it is true that we eat with our eyes first, this stunner of a breakfast is going to fill you right up. Layers of yogurt, homemade granola and nutrient rich blueberry chia jam are pretty enough for company and an excellent way to congratulate yourself on a week well eaten.
Lunch: Vegan Taco Wraps
These incredibly versatile wraps make tacos portable for perfect packed lunches. Add salsa, avocado, lettuce or onions to pump up the veggie factor!
Dinner: One Pot Lemon Pasta
You have made it through a whole work week eating nothing but plant based fare. Congratulations!! As a gift for all of your hard work, here’s one more one-pot wonder to keep your sink clear and your tummy full.
***If you are gluten-free, I suggest my Vegan Pumpkin Pasta instead, as some folks have had trouble with the lemon pasta dish using gluten-free noodles. This pumpkin pasta is an absolutely perfect pick for a fall dinner, and is fancy enough for a date night with your honey.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.
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