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Help Me Veganize My Meal Plan

by Melissa Flores
(Turlock, CA USA)

I'm an athlete; I work out a lot and consume lots of protein. I really try to eat healthy. But when I joined a group of vegans on myspace and watched some videos, it really changed my mind about animal proteins and so I decided to do some research about vegans. I really like how the writer explains everything so clearly on this site!

Below I am posting a sample of meals that I would eat. I would love to know some substitutions for the protein.

I've made some research and found information about proteins like soy, hemp and tofu proteins. But in some pages, they say that soy is not good for health. So that is an issue, mostly because most vegan food is made of soy. But from December 29th I've been a vegan. I replaced all my meals. But I need some advice because I'm beginning. To tell you, I love being a vegan! It is so great. These five days have been good, even just thinking about how many innocent animals could be saved by my diet.

I already bought all my vegan food. Thank you once again and it would be great if I could use some advice!

Old Breakfast: 1/2 cup of oatmeal with one cup fat free milk and banana.

Comments: Great! You can easily replace the fat free milk with either rice, almond, hemp, or hazelnut milk. They are all available at almost every grocery store nowadays.

Old Snack: Apple with almonds

Comments: Great snack!

Old Lunch: Turkey sandwich with whole grain bread and an apple.

Comments: Use hummus instead of turkey, and put plenty of various vegetables on the sandwich. Maybe instead of another apple you could try a different piece of fruit?

Old Snack: Protein bar

Comments: There are tons of great vegan protein bars on the market right now. I personally love Larabars, which you can buy in bulk on Amazon or get straight from the grocery store.

Old Dinner: Subway oven roasted chicken breast on honey and oat bread all veggies.

Comments: Subway does offer a veggie delite sandwich, which has all the vegetables and no chicken. They also have two breads that are vegan. Personally, I think these kinds of vegetables are the ones that give children vegetable complexes for their whole lives. They are just so tasteless. If you do need to grab a sandwich out in a pinch, it can work, but I would lug around some meat replacement to stick in it to make it taste better. I like Tofurkey.

If you can skip eating out for dinner, there are tons of delicious meals you can make yourself that are packed with vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruit, and will keep you full and ready for your workout later. I have many free vegan recipes on Vegan Nutritionista, and I also put together a simple vegan meal plan that helps you with dinners for a month.

Either way, I encourage you to add some different whole grains, vegetables and beans than you ate a lunch for dinner. And, it's actually easy to avoid soy in a vegan diet by simply choosing other beans and not drinking soy milk. Most meat-eaters actually eat a ton of soy in processed foods, so if you stick to whole foods, you'll be in good shape.

Old Snack(before workout): A cup of milk

Comments: Any milk substitute. You could even throw some peanut butter and banana into a blender with milk (and chocolate?) and eat that as a hearty pre-workout snack.

Old Snack (after workout): 2 cups of fat free milk

Comments: Same as before workout.

I hope this helps! If I were you, I would also think about reading some of the books of vegan athletes, like Branden Brazier's Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, Rip Esselstyn's The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds, and anything about Scott Jurek, like Ultra Running With Scott Jurek (Robbie Readers). It should be pretty encouraging that so many high-level athletes eat either totally vegan or vegetarian diets, and those people can certainly give you better advice than I can for how to enrich your sports body with food.

And to reiterate, soy is not absolutely necessary. I personally believe that fermented soy products are just fine, such as tempeh, miso, natto, and even good soy sauce. I think tofu and edamame are good, especially if you are making your own, or know it's organic and comes from a local source. The big problem comes from the soy by-products like soy protein isolate and soy lechitin. You can read more about what other readers think at our page on the soy debate.

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