How to Eat a Well Balanced Vegan Diet + 25 Healthy Vegan Recipes

I've had a few requests lately for vegan recipes and how to make sure you're meeting your nutrition needs on a vegan diet. (I'm always up for requests, so let me know if you have anything else in mind!) While vegan and plant-based diets can be healthful way of eating, when eliminating any food or food group from your diet, you are smart to have some nutritional concerns. 

While there is a spectrum of plant-based diets (some that even include meat!), a strict vegan diet eliminates fish, meat, eggs, milk & dairy products, honey, and many ingredients and products that contain these ingredients in some form or another. Learn more about surprising types of non-vegan foods and ingredients here.

While there are health benefits of consuming a plant-focused diet, before starting any diet, I suggest checking in with both your reasoning and your goals for starting it. It can be a healthful way of eating it you choose a variety of foods but becomes less beneficial if you are using it as a way to restrict your intake or follow a strict set of food or dieting rules. 

 
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The first concern people have with plant-based diets is - where will you get your protein? This is definitely a concern but there are other nutrients to consider too.

Below I've listed a few of the main nutrients that may be less prevalent in a plant-based diet and lists of plant based foods for where you can find each nutrient.

 

 

Protein

tofu, tempeh, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds

Iron

leafy greens, oatmeal, lentils, edamame, almonds, broccoli, tempeh, tofu, figs

Zinc

cashews, tofu, tahini, nutritional yeast

Calcium

fortified non dairy milks, fortified orange juice and other juices, kale, collard greens, tempeh, almonds, fortified cereals and oats

B12

fortified milk and dairy

Vitamin D

fortified cereals or non dairy milks and orange juice, some mushrooms, mainly from sunlight

Choline

soymilk, tofu, quinoa, peanut butter, almonds, pistachios, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lentils, chickpeas

Omega-3s

walnuts, flaxseed (must be ground, to absorb the omega-3s and other nutrients), chia seeds, hemp seeds, canola oil, seaweed, algae

 

Below is a quick round up of a few of my colleagues favorite vegan recipes. Enjoy!


Snack Bars & Energy Bites

Vegan Strawberry Oat Squares

Barbara Murphy, RD of Zest Nutrition

No Bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD of Better is The New Perfect

Healthy Energy Bites with Dates, Apricots, Cashews, & Coconut

E.A. Stewart, RD of The Spicy RD

Smoothies

Creamy Vegan Pear & Kale Smoothie Bowl

Andrea Mathis, RD of Beautiful Eats & Things

Vegan Wild Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the NYC area

Salads, Dressings, & Bowls

Vegan Roasted Cabbage Caesar Salad

Stephanie McKercher, RD of The Grateful Grazer

Vegan Deconstructed Sushi Salad Bowl with Sesame Ginger Miso Dressing

Stephanie McKercher, RD of The Grateful Grazer

Roasted Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Power Bowl

Brittany Poulson, RD of Your Choice Nutrition

Spring Vegetable Buddha Bowl with Minty Cashew Dressing

Kara Lydon Evancho, RD of The Foodie Dietitian

Vegan Green Goddess Dressing

Kara Lydon Evancho, RD of The Foodie Dietitian

Berry Quinoa Power Bowl

Sharon Palmer, RD of The Plant-Powered Dietitian

Roasted Veggie Quinoa - Judith Scharman Draughon, RD, author of Lean Body, Smart Life

Pastas

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD of Triad to Wellness

Thai Tempeh Noodle Skillet

Sharon Palmer, RD of The Plant-Powered Dietitian

Soups

Pressure Cooker Minestrone Soup

Brittany Poulson, RD of Your Choice Nutrition

Sorghum, Black Bean, & Vegetable Chili

Tracee Yablon Brenner, RD of Triad to Wellness

Hearty Vegetarian Bean Soup - Pushpa Soundararajan, RD of VPK Nutrition

Other Dishes

Vegan Baked Falafel with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Pamela Fergusson, RD, PhD

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD of Eat Real Live Welll

Completely Vegan Lentil Burgers

Andrea Mathis, RD of Beautiful Eats & Things

Buckwheat Oat Pumpkin Pancakes

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD of Eat Real Live Well

Lemon Tahini Lentil Dip

Sarah Schlichter, RD of Bucket List Tummy

Bean Burger Sliders

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD of Eat Real Live Well

Chocolate!

Creamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD of Better is The New Perfect

The Healthiest Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the NYC area