Starting to be vegan without knowing the basics that keep you healthy or a wrong mindset can be reasons to quit a vegan diet. To keep that from happening you need a vegan meal plan for beginners that helps you to stay on track.
I won’t focus on giving you meal examples but guidelines you can use to create your own meals with some inspiration from some other sources if you need.
Basics ingredients and guidelines to create a Vegan Meal
You can see the most important foods as well as things to look for in the infographic below.
Have all of the 6 food groups daily in your diet and keep your food variating to make sure to get your nutrients.
At the beginning of your (healthy) vegan journey you should use cronometer.com to keep track of the nutrients you get from your food. Using it a couple of times you will start to know for yourself what to eat to get your nutrient levels.
Dry legumes need to be always soaked before you cook them. This will get rid of the phytic acid that prevents the release of nutrients and also your body from absorbing nutrients.
But phytic acid has some positive effects as well. It acts as an antioxidant and prevents cancer. You can find out more on www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
And about the whole grains. The options you see on the infographic are without gluten. In case you have a gluten intolerance, they are your preferred source. If you don’t have any, I would recommend to use whole spelt over whole wheat. Whole Oats are good too.
Thoughts that make you doubt a Vegan Diet
I won’t get enough Protein. Actually you not only can get enough protein throughout the day but even enough if you exercise and don’t supplement with protein shakes. Legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains are all good sources of protein.
Iron? Not only it will be enough for men but as well for women who need a bit more. If you use my recommended food groups well, you won’t have any mineral deficiency except if you already have some health issues you might not be aware of. That is one reason to not just believe that everything is fine but to make regularly check ups.
There is nothing I can eat. The limitation is only in your head. There are millions of combinations you can have to create a vegan dish. And it is very likely that you can find at least hundred dishes you like, of which you will probably use not more than 20 regularly.
There are no restaurants. There are more and more options for vegans to go out to eat. And this will increase because veganism is growing. And you can be a part of the growth and not only improve your health but also reduce animal abuse and environmental damage caused by factory farming.
Veganism might be unhealthy for long term. Not sure what Dr. Ellsworth Wareham would say to that. This vegan retired as a plastic surgeon at 95. His mind and body stayed sharp like the scalpel he used.
A vegan lifestyle is unhealthy when you don’t know what you do. And depending what drugs you take that you shouldn't (like birth control pills), or doing other lifestyle mistakes, you set yourself a ground for being unhealthy you might blame your diet for where it is not the diets fault.
Beware that cosmetics with questionable ingredients can cause harm too, like decreasing your thyroid function.
Is Supplementation necessary when having only Vegan Meals?
Using the RDA guideline in cronometer, you will usually have difficulties reaching your recommended calcium needs. But you won’t need as much as shown. 9.4mg per kg will do (~60%). Here is the study for that claim.
Your vitamin D levels can only be sufficient from sunlight no matter what diet (or supplementation in winter when the sun won’t be enough for you).
Vitamin B12 is the only “modern” vegan problem. You can read about my experience testing to go without vitamin B12 supplements.
If you variate and have a sufficient amount of the foods shown in the infographic, you shouldn’t face any malnutrition. Neither in macronutrients like protein nor in micronutrients like iron.
No matter how your individual vegan meal plan will look like, make sure to enjoy what you eat. You can give yourself some treats from time to time. Just keep yourself from being stressed about your diet. Stress can cause more harm than an unhealthy diet.
To stick to a vegan diet as a beginner, you will need a good reason to do so. I will soon link a post about how to stick with a vegan diet.
You probably have some questions. Don't hesitate to leaf some in the comments section.