As diet trends come and go, veganism and vegetarianism seem to be two of the few that have staying power and keep gaining momentum. More and more people are choosing to avoid eating meat and animal products for ethical, environmental, or health reasons (or a combination of all three).
Choosing to adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet is often seen as a healthier option these days. After all, plant-based foods are typically lower in calories and fat than animal-based foods, and they contain plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet go well beyond weight loss. Studies have shown that these diets, when well planned out, can also reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. And while you may not see the benefits right away, over time, a plant-based diet can help to improve your overall health and well-being.
A vegan or vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy, but you must plan your meals carefully to ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs. While a plant-based diet can provide many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs, some nutrients are found only in animal products or are challenging to get in adequate amounts solely from plant-based foods. For example, vitamin B12 is only found in animal-based foods, so vegans and vegetarians need to include fortified foods or supplements in their diet.
In addition, vegetarian and vegan diets tend to be lower in iron and protein than omnivorous diets, so it is essential to include plenty of iron-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. By carefully planning your meals, you can ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
To get you started, here is a list of nutrient-rich recipes you can start adding to your meal plan that you can be confident will fill your nutrition needs.
Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Herbs, Sweet Potatoes, Frozen Vegetables
This comfort dish is wonderfully seasoned and packed with beans and lentils—which offers a great meat substitute while also remaining subtle in flavor. It takes less than an hour to make.
Whole Foods Plant Based Sweet-and-Sour Sauce Tempeh Stir-Fry, with Noodles and Fresh Vegetables (No-Oil)
Full of fresh veggies, and an easy-to-make homemade sauce, this stir-fry brings in a full array of flavors and is easily customized to your liking; you can pick what veggies you want, rice or noodles, or even tofu in place of tempeh.
Garam Masala Baked Acorn Squash – Stuffed With Cranberry Rice
If you like Indian food, this recipe does not disappoint. It may look intimidating to make, but this is a very simple dish to make and you will be glad you tried it!
Vegan Pumpkin Pasta with Spinach and Mushrooms
This pumpkin pasta is a crowd pleaser, and it is quick and easy to make for a weeknight dinner.
Vegan Stuffed-Pepper Soup
Think stuffed peppers but made into a comforting bowl of soup. Yum!
Super Summer-Time Pasta Salad
This pasta salad is quick to put together and is made with plant-based protein so you feel full.
Nourishing Buddha Bowl with Maple Roasted Chickpeas
Buddha bowls have become a more popular dish and are full of wholesome nutrition and are easy to make.