When properly planned, vegan diets are nutritionally adequate.
If you follow a vegan meal plan, you avoid all animal products including meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Although vegan menus are fairly restrictive, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that properly planned vegan diets are nutritionally adequate and may even help prevent certain diseases. Creating a meal plan can help you meet your daily nutrition needs.
When planning vegan menus, it’s important to make sure you consume adequate amounts of key nutrients that are abundant in animal-based foods. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that important nutrients for vegetarians include omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron, iodine, zinc, calcium and vitamins B-12 and D. A review published in a 2006 edition of “The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society” found that vegetarian diets are often relatively low in omega-3 fatty acids, retinol, zinc, vitamin B12, saturated fat and protein, and vegan diets are particularly low in vitamin B12 and calcium. Taking a multivitamin and vegan omega-3 supplements can help ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need while following a vegan diet. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
USDA Vegan Meal Plans
The USDA provides free, sample vegan meal plans at different calorie levels. Your recommended daily calorie intake is based on your age, gender, activity level and current body weight. A 1, 200-calorie USDA vegan meal plan, often appropriate for weight loss, consists of 1.5 cups of vegetables, 1 cup of fruits, 3 ounces of protein foods such as legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds, 4 ounces of grains, 2.5 cups of calcium-fortified plant-based beverages and foods such as soy milk and soy yogurt, 4 teaspoons of oils and 121 extra calories each day. A 2, 000-calorie USDA vegan meal plan includes 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruits, 5.5 ounces of protein foods, 6 ounces of grains, 3 cups of vegan dairy foods, 6 teaspoons of oil and 258 extra calories each day.
1, 200-Calorie Vegan Menu
For breakfast, consume one slice of whole-grain toast, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 cup of soy yogurt and one-half of a banana. For lunch, consume 2 ounces of cooked tofu, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, one-half cup of brown rice and 1 cup of steamed broccoli. For a snack, consume five whole-grain crackers, one-half cup of strawberries and 1 cup of soy milk. For dinner, consume 1 cup of mixed salad greens with 1 tablespoon of Italian salad dressing, 1 cup of lentil soup and one breadstick.