vegan: /ˈvēɡən/ a strict vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals, also: one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather)
People choose to follow a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons. Many people elect to follow a plant-based diet due to concerns about the environment or worries about animal rights. Others may follow a vegan eating pattern due to religious beliefs or other personal views. Health issues and overall health awareness may also prompt some to follow a vegan diet. Most people have more than one reason for choosing this form of vegetarianism. Some follow vegan eating plans for years or for a lifetime, and some alternate between vegan eating and other alternative eating plans.
Vegans do not eat animal products including honey, eggs, gelatin or dairy. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines. Vegans also will not use clothes, soaps, or other products that are animal-sourced in any way
High protein vegan meals include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, soy products and whole grains which means that vegans can enjoy complete nutrition and adequate nutrients from non–meat sources. Vegans generally consume fewer calories and less fat each day, due to the makeup of their diet.
Some research shows that vegans live longer than meat-eaters, but that may or may not be tied strictly to a vegan diet. Generally, vegans tend to be more focused on clean eating, consistent exercise and are very intentional about their overall health.
Vegan vs. Vegetarian
Vegan diets are not new, but the vegan lifestyle has received a lot of attention in recent years thanks to social media, celebrity endorsements and an overall focus on preventing animal cruelty and encouraging sustainable practices. The term vegan was coined by Donald Watson in 1944 when he started the Vegan Society in England. The movement started with vegetarians who refrained from eating eggs and dairy products, but later changed to include a lifestyle that refrained from exploiting animals.
Being vegan is a form of vegetarianism, but the main difference is that vegetarians do not eat meat but will continue to consume dairy products and eggs. Vegans consume no animal products at all. This means that it is less necessary for vegetarians to supplement nutrients. Vegetarians can still obtain calcium from milk and other dairy products, for example. Vegans, on the other hand, must find a plant-based source of calcium or use vegan-approved dietary supplements to boost their intake. Veganism also refers to a range of lifestyle choices that exclude animal products, while vegetarianism is purely a dietary choice.
Some vegans report that following a vegan eating plan can increase your energy levels, because food is more easily digested, therefore the body doesn’t have to expel as much energy for the digestion process. Also, the vegan diet does not contain sugars, saturated fats and carbohydrates that can contribute to fatigue and sluggishness. Some vegans also say that a vegan eating plan can contribute to better skin health. Vegan diets do include large amounts of fruits and vegetables that contain many vitamins and antioxidants that are good for your skin and your overall health. Some also link dairy products to acne and skin ailments. Since the vegan diet is free of dairy products, improved skin health may result, as well.
What about protein, vitamins and minerals?
Maintaining a healthy vegan diet can be difficult. Ensuring that your macrobiotics are on level and maintaining the correct amounts of certain vitamins such as B12 can be a challenge, especially for those just starting a vegan diet. When following a vegan diet, all proteins, vitamins and minerals must come from non-animal sources, so food choice and preparation are especially important. A vegan diet involves eating only foods and food products made from plants while avoiding animal products. Since animal products are good sources of protein, non-saturated fats, iron, vitamins and minerals in traditional diet eating plans, a vegan must find alternative sources of these nutrients. But it is possible to create high protein vegan meals with a little careful attention to ingredients.
Vitamin B12, whether in supplements, fortified foods, or animal products, comes from micro-organisms. It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain some, and often much, protein. Fruits, sugars, fats, and alcohol do not provide much protein, so a diet based only on these foods would have a good chance of being too low in protein.
Those wishing to transition to a vegan diet should speak to a doctor about their personal health and carefully consider the impact of the certain dietary changes including:
- Vitamin B12: Some types of Vitamin B12 are only available in animal produce, but fortified plant foods like soy, seaweed, cereals and nutritional yeast can help prevent vitamin deficiency. This vitamin is necessary to protect nerves and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 supplements are also available.
- Iron: An important nutrient for absorbing oxygen into the blood and transporting it to the cells in the body, iron is commonly found in meat products. But dried beans and dark leafy greens may be better sources of iron than meat on a per-calorie basis. Iron supplements are also available in a variety of forms.
- Calories: Vegan diets are often lower in calories than other eating plans. While consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain and other health problems, consuming too few calories can also lead to problems with low weight and may cause other issues as well. You may need to boost calorie intake if you decide to follow a vegan eating plan.
- Calcium: Calcium is very important for bone health. Since vegan diets do not include traditional dairy products, it is important to supplement a vegan diet with calcium rich foods such as tofu, tahini and green, leafy vegetables. A variety of vegan-friendly calcium supplements are also available.
- Vitamin D: This important vitamin protects the body from multiple cancers and chronic diseases, and has the added benefit of helping to strengthen the bones and teeth. Adding vitamin-D-fortified foods to your diet and spending time in the sun will boost vitamin D levels, too. Vitamin D supplements are also available in a variety of vegan-friendly forms.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for a healthy heart, eye function and brain function. EPA is a type of omega-3 that cannot be obtained with a vegan diet. ALA and DHA are types of omega-3s that can be found in ground flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, soy products and hemp beverages. Many enhance a vegan eating plan with a fish oil supplement to ensure correct omega-3 intake.
- Zinc: A zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, poor healing of wounds, immunological problems, dermatitis and more. Vegans can boost their zinc intake by consuming whole grains, legumes and soy products, which are all rich in zinc. Zinc supplements are also available.
- Iodine: Vegans can add iodine to their diet by consuming seaweed, prunes and other iodine rich foods. A lack of iodine can lead to fatigue, weight gain, pain and swelling in the neck, dry skin and alarming changes in heart rate. A variety of iodine-rich dietary supplements are also available.
It is important to review your vegan eating plan with your doctor or healthcare provider. Since vegan diets tend to lack these important elements, it is imperative to develop a plan to include both the nutrient rich foods and the correct dietary supplements to ensure that a vegan eating plan is providing followers with the proper nutrition for optimal health. In general, a vegan diet does contain far more nutrients than the traditional American diet, because Vegans consume a wider variety of fruits and vegetables than traditional diets that depend largely on meat and meat products.
What does a vegan eating plan look like?
Vegans choose not to eat meats or fish, but that does not mean vegan meals are tasteless and bland. There are many colorful, tasty vegan plant based meal plans available that feature healthy, balanced food with a wide variety of flavors.
Take a look at these sample vegan menu options. All meals listed below – when correctly prepared – contain a correct ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and fats but are vegan eating plan approved.
A plant-based diet does not mean that breakfast has to be boring! There are many delicious and healthful options including:
- Vanilla macadamia pancakes prepared with whole wheat flour, accompanied by fresh fruit
- Vegan blueberry muffin prepared with whole wheat flour, accompanied by fresh fruit
- Overnight oats soaked in almond milk, accompanied by fresh fruit and fruit compote
- Eggless egg and vegan cheese breakfast sandwich, accompanied by fresh fruit and greens
Lunch or Dinner:
- Sweet potato bowl filled with avocado, zucchini, spinach, black beans, cilantro and peppers garnished with enchilada sauce
- Whole wheat pasta topped with artichokes, zucchini, spinach, basil, garlic, red pepper and vegan cream and cheese sauce
- Plant based vegan burger accompanied by lettuce, sweet potato, tomato and vegan cheese
- Whole wheat pasta shells stuffed with vegan cheese, broccoli, tofu, onions, basil, spinach, garlic and sun-dried tomato, topped with marinara sauce
- Flour tortilla filled with BBQ jackfruit, green beans, parsley.
There are a variety of dairy replacement and meat replacement products available that can be used to create the taste, feel and texture of these traditional items in vegan meals. In addition, plant products like jackfruit, plantains, breadfruit, potatoes, Portobello mushrooms, beets, eggplant, lentils, beans, legumes, cauliflower, nuts and squash are also used to mimic the taste and feel of meat in some dishes. Tofu and tempeh may also be used to provide a more complete and protein-dense meat alternative.
A vegan diet can be a highly nutritious choice, as it is low in saturated fat and rich in nutrients. But please consult your doctor of medical professional before significantly altering your diet or starting a new eating plan. Embarking on an animal-free eating regimen without proper planning can lead to some health risks, so it is important to consult with your health care provider and discuss your personal medical history, risks and other factors. Those new to vegan eating who are considering a fully vegan diet are advised to stop eating animal products very gradually by slowly adding meat alternatives one at a time. This slow progression provides a gentle transition for the body, allowing the new vegan to progress to other non-animal products, eventually excluding animal products completely.
With some careful research and good conversations with your doctor, nutritionist or other health care provider, you can develop a plant based meal plan that works for you. Sourcing meals from a meal delivery service like Fresh Meal Plan, ingredients from your local market and dishes from your favorite restaurants, you will find that plant based eating can be simple as well as very tasty.
Finding vegan food options at the market and beyond.
Foods in a plant-based vegan eating plan can easily be prepared at home but may take a little more time to prepare than some traditional foods. When purchasing boxed or pre-prepared convenience foods, vegans should carefully check labeling to ensure that the contents are vegan approved or prepared in a meat free kitchen. Vegan options are also available in many restaurants. For example, most Chinese food restaurants offer options and substitutions that are perfect for vegan eating. Plant based dishes like vegetable spring rolls are available. Tofu can be substituted for meat in some dishes. Many Chinese food dishes use a large variety of vegetables and other vegan-friendly ingredients and amp up flavor with approved sauces and condiments. Noodles, rice and some kinds of dumplings are also vegan eating plan compliant.
Some ready-made vegan meals are available in major grocery stores, through online vendors and at specialty outlets. Vegan frozen meals and other convenience foods are also available, but it is very important to read labels to understand what ingredients are and are not used in the products you purchase.
Did you know that some of your favorite guilty pleasures that you find on the shelves at your local grocery store are vegan? Vegan products include Oreo cookies, Duncan Hines creamy home style frosting, Duncan Hines cake mixes, Jello pudding products, Smucker’s marshmallow ice cream topping, Ritz crackers, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, Nutter Butter cookies and many other choices are readily available. Of course, these items alone do not make up a healthy diet, but they are examples of some vegan-friendly convenience foods that are readily available via your local market, grocery delivery service or online grocery ordering option.
Plant based eating can help you lose excess weight, may lower your blood sugar levels, can improve your kidney function, might protect against some cancers and may lower your risk of heart disease. Some studies show that vegans have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type two diabetes than those who eat meat and dairy. Vegans and vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.
Fresh Meal Plan knows vegan eating.
The foods we eat are vital to our health and wellbeing. Food fuels our body, giving us the nutrients and energy to live our daily lives. While the word diet has taken on a negative, restrictive context over the years, the word in the truest form means “the foods we eat on a regular basis.” It is easy to see why everyone should eat a healthy diet, - whether vegan or another healthy eating plan - so what is preventing the vast majority of the American population from doing so? The answer lies in time and finances.
Good and wholesome foods cost more than convenience foods. Fresh foods require preparation and menu planning to keep ingredients from going bad. What if you could get the benefits of healthy food without all of the meal prep, clean up, and planning?
The best prepared meal delivery service available, Fresh Meal Plan offers complete vegan meal solutions to help you add some precious time back into your day for the things that matter most. Take the guesswork out of healthy eating and always have an answer to the question “what’s for dinner?” by using the Fresh Meal Plan fully-prepared meal delivery service. Packed with plant based power to keep you going all day long, the Fresh Meal Plan vegan meal plan is designed for those who do not consume meat or animal products yet want to ensure they are receiving the correct amounts of nutrients, protein, and fat.
The Fresh Meal Plan vegan meal offerings have been carefully designed for the specific dietary needs of those who do not eat meat, yet still desire great taste and wide variety. Fresh Meal Plan vegan meals feature a healthy yet delicious variety of grains, legumes, tofu, bean burgers, veggie burgers, fruit, seasonal vegetables and much more, and menus are updated and rotated weekly.
Some vegans decide to adopt the vegan style of eating due to certain illnesses, or because of their desire to avoid animal protein. Fresh Meal Plan vegan meals feature new and innovative combinations of nutrient rich foods that are a perfect fit for the vegan lifestyle. Most Fresh Meal Plan Vegan meals include between 290 and 350 calories. Pre-prepared meals include legumes, nuts, seeds, fiber-rich vegetables, soy proteins and much-needed essential fats. It is easy to track weekly caloric intake and macros (protein, fat, and carbs), because each meal is carefully portioned and includes detailed nutrition information. You can pair this information with your favorite activity tracker or calorie counter for complete, overall health and fitness tracking.
Convenient vegan meal delivery from Fresh.
Fresh Meal Plan menus – whether vegan, Paleo, Keto or traditional – have been created by our five-star gourmet chef and co-founder. Meals have been carefully crafted with your health in mind. Fresh Meal Plan uses the finest, freshest, farm-to-table ingredients. All dishes are thoughtfully prepared to meet your dietary needs, and are designed to look beautiful, taste amazing and fuel your body.
The ultimate in time-saving convenience, Fresh Meal Plan offers fully-prepared and healthy meals that are delivered right to your door at a time that is convenient for your busy, active lifestyle. Meals arrive chilled in insulated packaging, for easy transfer to your refrigerator. When it’s time to eat, just heat and enjoy!
Fresh Meal Plan also allows clients to choose across meal plans, giving you the option to add more vegan items into your rotation while still including animal protein options from other plans, if desired. Our vegan meals are low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats and contain a moderate amount of protein, prompting your body to use fat for fuel.
Use Fresh Meal Plan’s meal solutions to help you achieve your health and wellness goals. We offer meals featuring only the highest quality ingredients and we have multiple plans to choose from. We believe that you matter, and that every meal matters, too. Clean eating means more plants, and clean eating without the added stress of meal prep means Fresh Meal Plan. Try our vegan meal plan today!