One of the first things people ask me when they find out I'm vegan is, "What do you normally eat every day?" It's a fair question, and it's one that I wondered before I went vegan for the first time in 2011. When you're used to eating animal products for pretty much every meal, you can't help but wonder what on earth those wacky vegans eat on the daily.
The vegan diet has a lot more variety than people realize. Look at this way: there are only several different kinds of animal protein you can eat, but there are hundreds and hundreds of different plants available for the picking. And don't believe the myths you hear about not getting enough protein or calories on a plant-based diet. My protein-packed vegan meals have helped me gain several pounds of muscle and slim down my physique.
Here's a closer look at what I eat every day.
I normally lift weights in the morning, so it's really important for me to have a big breakfast full of plenty of protein. My go-to is usually a protein smoothie with Vega Sport protein, almond milk, and a Sambazon Performance Protein Pack. This three-ingredient smoothie packs in 40+ grams of protein, and it tastes amazing!
Another very common breakfast I eat is a tofu scramble with veggies like mushrooms, spinach, or bell peppers, along with a slice of toast with Vegemite — an Australian spread which is high in the hard-to-come-by vitamin B 12 — and avocado. If I'm at home on the weekend and I'm feeling extra hungry, I'll make some shiitake mushroom "bacon" to eat on the side.
I love to meal prep on Sundays, so I usually have all my food laid out for the week. Every week is a little different, but here are some great examples of meals I take to work for lunch:
- Baked tempeh, miso brown rice, sauteed kale, kimchi, bean sprouts, and Korean tahini BBQ sauce
- Crispy polenta, Italian-flavored tofu and bell peppers, wilted spinach, and basil walnut pesto
- Pistachio-crusted tofu, garlicky green beans, and brown rice
- Red bell peppers stuffed with quinoa, toasted pine nuts, dry-fried tofu, and kale
If I eat out for lunch with a friend, I have a big salad with lots of tofu, nuts, and veggies. This is generally my biggest meal of the day, so I make sure I'm covering all the bases — protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs.
My last meal of the day is never that big since my breakfast and lunch are quite large, so it's a simple formula of protein and greens. I'm typically eating something light like crispy tofu or baked tempeh with a salad or sauteed vegetables on the side. Every once in a while I'll have a bowl of tofu and sweet potato curry, or something more hearty like a vegan tempeh Reuben sandwich.
An apple and nut butter is a standard snack throughout the day. Other choices I enjoy are protein bars (I love GoMacro), a handful of cashews, protein balls, or a handful of popcorn. I usually eat my snack in between lunch and dinner to hold me over until my last meal of the day.
There are so many different combinations and options out there. I never feel deprived eating a plant-based diet, and I've enjoyed the many benefits that come along with eating vegan. From clearer skin to better digestion to weight loss, it's a lifestyle I don't think I could ever quit!