Vegan diet plan for beginners: 7-days of meals & tips

vegan diet plan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A vegan diet plan can be as interesting, delicious, and easy to put together as any meat-based diet out there. Thanks to the hundreds of plant-based food brands and innovation in the vegan space over the past several years, it’s easier than ever to adopt a vegan diet that leaves you full, satisfied and feeling your best. 

And don’t worry about protein. With dozens of vegan protein sources, including the best vegan protein powder, there are plenty of ways to hit your daily protein goals. You’ll also be eating a great amount of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. These will support a healthy immune system, digestion, and overall wellbeing. 

Whether you’re new to the vegan diet or just looking for some inspiration to eat more plants, use this seven-day vegan meal plan to enjoy new plant-powered meals all week long.

What to eat on a vegan diet

When following a vegan diet, the key is to avoid anything made with animal products (our guide to veganism vs vegetarianism has a more in-depth run down). This includes meat, poultry and fish. But it also means no dairy products, eggs, and in some cases (depending on how strict you follow the diet), honey. 

But fear not. The list of what you can have on a vegan diet is longer than what’s off-limits. Just think of the wide and delicious world of plants, seeds, nuts, and legumes you can enjoy.

The first question most people new to vegan eating will get is “how do you get your protein?” And the good news is that there are many delicious plant-based protein sources to pile on your plate – no animals necessary!

These include beans and legumes, and the many products made with them. For example, tofu and tempeh are two meat substitutes made from soybeans. Black, kidney, white, and pinto are all vegan-friendly protein sources. These days, you can also find many meat look-alikes that are made from plant sources too. Nuts, such as cashews, almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, are also all great vegan protein sources.

Aside from protein, a vegan diet consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and grains. If it grows from the ground, it’s fair game on a vegan diet. 

Many adventurous vegan cooks like to think outside the box when it comes to preparing their favorite meals without animal products. For example, there are dozens of milk alternatives and yogurt options made with nuts and seeds. You can find delicious spreadable butters and sauces made from soaked cashews or silken tofu.

Vegan diet meal plan: Day 1

  • Breakfast: Whisk ¼ cup of chia seeds and a scoop of almond butter into a cup of almond milk. Let it sit for an hour (or up to overnight), then top with fresh berries and enjoy.  
  • Lunch: Make a vegan sandwich with seared tofu, sprouts, shredded carrots, and smashed avocado. 
  • Dinner: Whip up a hearty butternut squash soup with roasted squash and garlic, coconut oil, and red curry paste. 

butternut squash soup with a swirl of vegan cream

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vegan diet meal plan: Day 2

  • Breakfast: Crumble extra-firm tofu into a skillet with chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. Serve on toast with hot sauce. 
  • Lunch: Serve a veggie burger on a seeded bun with pickles, ketchup and mustard. 
  • Dinner: Make fried rice with scallions, peppers, tofu, and soy sauce.

Vegan diet meal plan: Day 3

  • Breakfast: Cook old-fashioned oatmeal with almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract and chopped walnuts. 
  • Lunch: Enjoy a wrap filled with hummus, roasted red bell peppers, spinach, and vegan cheese.
  • Dinner: Make roasted cauliflower tacos with refried beans, salsa, and guacamole.

Cinnamon oatmeal with walnuts, banana and blueberries

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vegan diet meal plan: Day 4

  • Breakfast: Sprinkle your favorite granola over coconut yogurt with chopped fruit. 
  • Lunch: Toss together a grain salad with quinoa, fresh corn, chopped bell pepper, and black beans. Dress with olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. 
  • Dinner: Make vegan pesto with basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, and olive oil and toss with pasta. 

Vegan diet meal plan: Day 5

  • Breakfast: Sauté chopped potatoes on the stove until they’re crispy. Add black beans and serve with salsa. 
  • Lunch: Make an open-faced sandwich with vegan “tuna” salad made with avocado, chickpeas, hearts of palm, and chopped celery. 
  • Dinner: Make roasted cauliflower tacos with refried beans, salsa, and guacamole.

roasted cauliflower tacos with vegetables

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vegan diet meal plan: Day 6

  • Breakfast: Make fluffy vegan pancakes with oats, mashed bananas, and almond milk. Serve with maple syrup and a dollop of coconut yogurt. 
  • Lunch: Toss together chilled lentil pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and chickpeas. 
  • Dinner: Enjoy pizza topped with tomato sauce, roasted eggplant, and vegan cheese.

Vegan diet meal plan: Day 7

  • Breakfast: Whip up a smoothie with frozen berries, banana, almond milk, and vegan protein powder. 
  • Lunch: Crumble tofu into a skillet with taco seasoning and serve with rice, guacamole, and salsa in a burrito. 
  • Dinner: Make a quick stir-fry with cubed tofu, mushrooms, and broccoli seasoned with soy sauce, hot sauce, and sesame oil, served over brown rice.

tofu stir fry with brown rice and vegetables

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tips for following the vegan diet

Erin Kenney, registered dietitian and CEO of Nutrition Rewired, recommends that anyone new to a vegan diet “starts by slowly incorporating more plant-based foods onto their plate, rather than going cold turkey.” 

For many people, starting with a plant-based diet for beginners (rather than a strict vegan diet) is a great way to ramp up. This way, you can slowly cut back on your consumption of animal products. Taking it slow is a great way to avoid overwhelming yourself or feeling deprived of your favorite foods.

And if health or weight loss is a priority, keep in mind that many vegan substitutes for animal-based products can be high in unhealthy fats, oils, and refined starches. “It's important to focus on less processed plant-based proteins like lentils, soy, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and beans instead of reaching for highly processed substitutes,” says Kenney.

Lizzy Briskin
Freelance writer

Lizzy Briskin is a freelance writer focusing on food, health, lifestyle, travel, the outdoors and fitness. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, EcoWatch, Smart Mouth, Maed, Munchery, and more. She is also a chef, recipe developer and food photographer, having received professional culinary training at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Lizzy has lead a successful gluten-free and vegan food blog, and worked as a recipe editor in the meal kit industry.