Vegans limit their diets to plant-based foods, forgoing any that originate from animals.
What Foods Can You Eat on a Vegan Diet?
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits rank high on the list of foods vegans can eat. You may need to adjust the way you eat them, however. On a vegan diet, all dairy foods are eliminated, including milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, buttermilk and foods made from them. So, if you typically slice berries and banana into Greek yogurt for breakfast, you’ll need to switch to yogurt made from coconut or soy.
Legumes, Nuts and Seeds
Getting ample protein can be a concern when you remove animal products like meat and eggs from your diet, but legumes offer plenty of low-fat, plant-based protein to vegans. Stock your pantry with chickpeas, lentils, adzuki beans, black beans, split peas, pinto beans, peanuts, navy beans and other varieties. Use them in soups, stews and the like, or serve them cold in salads. Peanut butter can act as the base for a delicious sauce for Asian-flavored dishes, and hummus is a good spread for veggie wraps. Soybeans are versatile additions to a vegan diet, too. Cut up baked tofu as a base for stir-fries, snack on edamame or scramble soft tofu with peppers and onions for an “omelet.”
Nuts and seeds are on your vegan diet list, providing healthy fats and protein. Choose an assortment, like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and pepitas. Remember that nuts and seeds are high in calories, so stick with a 1-ounce serving, and opt for raw or roasted, without added sweeteners or salt, for the best health.
Vegans have a wealth of whole-grain foods to choose from, including whole wheat pieces of bread and pastas and grains like brown rice, bulgur, barley, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, spelled and wild rice. Again, how you serve them may shift once you go vegan. With pasta, forget cheese-based sauces and stick with vegetable-based ones, like a hearty puttanesca made with tomatoes, olives, onions, garlic and capers. Add a dash of olive oil to your brown rice instead of butter, and serve it as the bed for a veggie-and-tofu stir fry. Enjoy your morning oatmeal or bran cereal with calcium-fortified soy or almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
Substitutions and Vegan Food Products
If you’re accustomed to using honey in your tea or coffee, try a little agave nectar, which comes from cactuses, instead. Nutritional yeast, a source of protein and B-complex vitamins, makes a good stand-in for cheese in some recipes. For a vegan-friendly dessert, enjoy a scoop of fruit sorbet after dinner. Dark chocolate may be a sweet option, too, but check the label and pick a brand that’s dairy-free.
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