What do vegans eat? If you have been a vegan for a while you know all the awesome vegan recipes and products that are available. However, if you are new to being vegan, the question of what do I eat can be a little overwhelming. When I first went vegan I lived on bruschetta, maybe not the most nutrient dense food, but really delicious. I also loved Chipotle veggie bowls, avocado toast, and smoothies.
The following is a list of healthy vegan foods that are easy to incorporate into your diet, and most importantly, easily found at most grocery stores. I buy everything I can organic, but, that is up to you, so I did not specifically indicate this.
Vegan Meat – I am not a huge fan of faux meat. I didn’t like the texture or idea of meat, really ever, and I ate veggie burgers instead of hamburgers years before I was even completely vegetarian. I remember covering steak with tartar sauce when I was little because I didn’t like the taste. I never ate chicken or turkey because it was always either plain or too dry, and I would never eat any meat on the bone, totally grossed me out. (I know I was a joy for my parents.) However, I know many people actually like the taste of meat, so if you are among them, please try some of the vegan meats on the market. Some or better than others, unfortunately, a lot of them are really highly processed and full of junk, so beware.
Quinoa – This superfood grain needs to be in your life. Quinoa is a complete protein, which is important for vegans, also, it cooks quickly, and is good in cold salads or as the bottom of a really delicious veggie bowl. Cook in advance and keep it in the fridge. Other grains like millet, brown rice, and barley are also good, however, quinoa is at the top of my grain list.
Canned whole beans – Black, white, chickpea, kidney, etc. Making beans from scratch is cheaper but more time consuming, so for new vegans, I think buying canned beans is a great option. Black beans are my favorite for veggie bowls. White beans are great in a white bean bisque. Chickpeas are a must for hummus, and kidney beans are perfect for a taco salad.
Nut butters – Delish, natural peanut butter and almond butter can be found almost anywhere, and they are great with fruit or spread on celery or whole grain toast. Makes a really healthy snack. Also, can make a truly awesome sauce with veggies and a grain for a tasty dinner.
Raw nuts and seeds – Almonds, pecans, and pepitas are my favorites, and they are also a great healthy snack. I like to buy raw so I can either choose to eat raw or can toast myself. Nuts are a great item to sprinkle on a salad, a snack, or dinner. I almost always top a veggie bowl with toasted almonds or pepitas. Raw cashews are also great for experimenting with a creamy vegan sauce or a vegan cheesecake.
Healthy snacks – I’m a snack girl. I never eat 3 meals a day, I like to snack. I try and go for less processed, smaller company snacks. I stay away from “healthy snacks” from big companies because usually them are full of GMOs. Also, they are generally full of things that are not vegan; i.e. whey, cassein, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Some of my favorites are popcorn, pretzels, rice crackers, dehydrated apples, and Tings (from Pirate Brands).
Flax seeds – These are a must for vegan baking. There are other egg substitutes but, this is my definite go to; mix ground flax seeds with water and voila, perfect egg substitute.
Earth Balance vegan margarine – A must for vegan baking, and a totally equal swap for butter in baking recipes. There is a soy-free option too, and they come in cubes for baking or a tub for spreading.
Roasted veggies – Obviously, vegans need to eat vegetables. There are so many great veggies and so many things you can do with them. However, if you are a newly minted vegan, I think the best advice is to make some roasted vegetables. I roast everything. My favorite is roasted broccoli – toss some broccoli with oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (and oregano and garlic powder, if you so desire) and roast at 400 for about 25 – 30 minutes, until it starts to brown. Roasting intensifies and caramelizes your veggies and makes them soooooo much better than steaming or even sauteing. Another favorite is to roast some vegetables and then puree into a delicious creamy bisque.
Smoothies – It is really simple and really healthy to buy some fresh or frozen fruit, add some non-dairy milk, and maybe a small handful of nuts, flax, hemp, or chia seeds or a few handfuls of spinach and have a great healthy smoothie.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, however, these staples are easily found in your local grocery store and are a great foundation for vegan cooking. There are many vegan websites with a plethora of recipes and advice, so search, experiment, and congratulations to you for choosing a vegan lifestyle, let the adventure begin!