What Does a Vegan Diet Look Like?

A colorful bowl of vegan salad
What does a vegan diet look like? It's colorful

What does the everyday vegan diet look like in reality? Find out how what vegans eat on a daily basis for every meal of the day. Although it’s a lifestyle change, it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

We’ve all been raised to believe that animal products are the centerpiece of a healthy diet — meat, dairy, and eggs consistently show up in every meal. Most people can’t even imagine what their diet would look like without these products, up until the point they decide to make more conscious choices.

Therefore, it’s not at all surprising that individuals new to the vegan lifestyle will initially look for meat and cheese alternatives to replace what they have decided to stop consuming. But, the vegan diet is a lot more varied than new vegans realize.

Find out more about the vegan diet by reading: What is Veganism? You might also like: How to Become Vegan

The vegan diet has many options
The vegan diet has a large variety of options

The first step to a vegan diet: start the day right

The most important meal of the day requires enough plant-based fuel to sustain you throughout your daily activities. So, what can vegans have for breakfast? The options are endless.

On the healthier side of the spectrum, you can’t go wrong with a classic bowl of oatmeal, cooked with your choice of non-dairy milk, and topped with fresh fruit and nuts. Smoothies and smoothie bowls are an incredibly healthy breakfast choice, and they are especially delicious during the summer months.

Vegan breakfast of oatmeal, bananas, nuts, and berries
Start the day with a healthy vegan breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, and nuts

Pancakes are also a great option when craving something that tastes like a treat – swapping eggs for ripe bananas and dairy milk for your preferred non-dairy milk alternative will make your favorite childhood recipe 100% plant-based. You can also try our Vegan Pancakes – Easy Recipe

Many of the most popular cereal brands are not vegan-friendly, but you can easily find vegan cereal in most grocery stores these days, such as Barbara’s, Nature’s Path, and Cascadian Farm.

If you prefer having a savory breakfast instead, you can easily swap your morning eggs for a hearty, delicious tofu scramble or a filling vegan breakfast sandwich. Why not try our Vegan Breakfast Sandwich Recipe. When in a hurry, peanut butter toast will also do the trick!

If you can’t find vegan bread, make this Easy Homemade Vegan Bread Recipe

A loaf of homemade vegan bread as part of a vegan diet
Easy homemade vegan bread

What does a vegan diet look like at lunchtime?

Whether you tend to have your lunch at home, in the office, or at school, there are many vegan lunch ideas that are incredibly easy and quick to make. Most vegan dishes keep very well in and outside of the fridge, making meal prepping and lunch-packing extremely convenient!

Burritos and wraps are some of the most convenient vegan lunch options, as you can fill them with all your favorite plant-based ingredients and bring them with you wherever you need to go.

Black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, or tofu should always be included in your meal to get your recommended amount of protein in. Loading up on healthy, plant-based protein will also ensure you can be full and energized for longer, especially if you pack your wraps with a generous amount of veggies too.

A vegan wrap with lentils as part of a vegan diet
Vegan wrap with lentils

Buddha bowls are also a great option when looking for something balanced and nutritious. Pick your favorite whole grain as a base (quinoa and lentils will also work great for a protein punch), and then add your favorite veg, root veg, and vegan-friendly condiments. You can really choose whatever you like – the sky’s the limit!

Other easy-to-pack vegan lunch options include pasta salad, veggie stir-fry with tofu and rice, or a foolproof chickpea and potato curry. If you’re feeling really lazy and you’re prepared for the afternoon sugar-crash slump, a PB&J sandwich is the ultimate lazy vegan meal.

To find out more about the vegan diet, read: What Can Vegans Eat?

Cruelty-free snacking

In need of a mid-afternoon pick me up? Aside from fruit, trail mixes, and vegan-friendly snack bars such as Clif Bars or Luna Bars, you can snack easy and vegan with tasty dips.

Hummus and crackers are the ideal options for protein-savvy vegans, while Mexican food enthusiasts might love dipping tortilla chips in smashed avocado dip or dairy-free guacamole. A great snack idea for those who are watching their waistline is our Healthy Vegan Cauliflower Buffalow Wings Recipe with this Vegan Sour Cream Recipe.

Vegan cauliflower buffalo wings with vegan sour cream - healthy vegan diet snacks
Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Vegan Sour Cream

Nut butters are also a great go-to snack for those preferring sweet snacks to savory ones. Rice cake with peanut butter on top, anyone?

Regular salted popcorn, pretzels, and several varieties of potato chips are also suitable for vegans. This goes a long way in proving that a vegan diet can include way more than just whole foods!

What’s for dinner?

Dinnertime is generally the part of the day when people have more time to spend in the kitchen. It is also a great time to cook in bulk so that you can have a variety of meals ready for you to enjoy throughout the week – a little effort will go a long way!

Soups and stews are perfect winter-warmers during the colder months, and they can be extremely convenient when looking for a nutritious, vitamin-rich, and filling dinner meal. Some examples of tasty soups are minestrone, sweet potato, and pumpkin soup, French lentil soup, and black bean and avocado soup. Try making a fiery vegan chili, featuring vegan mince or textured vegetable protein as the star of the meal, for a hearty dinner packed with flavor and plant-based protein.

Pasta and noodle-based dishes can also be made with a variety of vegan ingredients so that even with a similar starch base, you’re guaranteed to never get bored.

Try our Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe or our Vegan Penne Arribiatia Recipe.

Vegan mac and cheese for dinner
What’s for dinner? Vegan Mac and Cheese

What about vegan junk food?

Vegan burgers with fries, plant-based hot dogs, faux chicken nuggets … the list goes on and on. Although usually on the pricier side of the scale, these delicious cruelty-free alternatives to American favorites are now widely available to satisfy all your vegan comfort food cravings. Check out Daiya, Gardein, and Beyond Meat for some plant-based junk food inspiration!

Or you can make your own “junk” food that’s healthy with this Vegan Pizza – Easy Deep Dish Recipe or try your hand at making this Simple Vegan Fried Chicken Recipe.

There’s always room for vegan dessert

Life is already pretty sweet when you’re a healthy vegan, but it can be even sweeter if you allow yourself to indulge in delicious vegan desserts every once in a while. You will find that plant-based versions of popular desserts such as cheesecake and ice cream are becoming increasingly available.

For those of you who are more than comfortable in the kitchen, however, baking your own vegan treats might be the preferred option. Simple swaps for dairy milk and eggs can make all your favorite recipes plant-based, from brownies to cherry pie.

A good place to start exploring vegan dessert recipes is to make our Vegan Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse Recipe with this Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe.

Vegan aquafaba chocolate mousse for dessert with fresh berries.
Vegan aquafaba chocolate mousse for dessert!

Whatever dietary approach you are more comfortable with when adopting a vegan diet, a few tenants always remain: make vegetables and plant-based protein the stars of your meal, make sure you are eating enough (under-eating is very common when switching to a vegan diet), consume an abundance of whole foods, and most importantly, make sure your meals are varied! Then again, when there are so many tasty options available, this shouldn’t really be a tall order!