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Eat a variety of whole plant foods. They are the base of good vegan nutrition

There are five categories of food in
our vegan nutrition plan. Try to eat some of each group every day. The groups are: greens, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruit. You don't have to eat from all five at every meal. There are a few vegans that don't eat any grains at all, but we suggest you include them in your diet.

Dark leafy greens

Greens really belong in the vegetable group. But they are so important for vegan nutrition that we give them their own category. Leaves are the nutritional powerhouse of plants. Photosynthesis happens in the leaves. Plants use CO2, water, and sunlight to create greens that are bursting with nutrients.  What is so great about greens?greens mixed

  • They nourish our bodies and turn off food cravings in our brain
  • They are a great source of calcium
  • They are high in protein
  • They contain omega 3 fats
  • They are low in fat
  • They contain fiber
  • They contain lots of other vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients

Examples of these wonderful foods are collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, bok choy, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, and romaine lettuce. Eat dark leafy greens every day. Eat some cooked and some raw.


Another important food category in our vegan nutrition plan is the rest of the vegetables. Vegetables are low in fat and, like all plants, contain fiber. Focus on vegetables that have deep, bright colors. Try to eat from all the "color groups" every day. Some vegetables give us special benefits:brussels sprouts

  • Cruciferous vegetables. These are a family of vegetables that are very healthful. They contain natural chemicals, like sulphoraphane, that help protect us from cancer

    Some common cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, bok choy, turnip, radish, and watercress.

  • Low calorie density vegetables. They have a high water content, fiber, and many nutrients. Eat as many as you want, because they contain only a few calories. Eat them raw in salads or with bean dips. Some of them are good in soups and stews. Examples are zucchini, green beans, onion, cucumber, bell pepper, and celery.

  • Starchy vegetables. They are high in fiber, very low in fat, and have enough calories to satisfy our hunger. Some traditional cultures got nearly all their food from starchy root vegetables. The long-lived Okinawans got most of their calories from sweet potatoes. Peruvians lived on potatoes and New Guinea natives on yams.

    Bright-colored starches like yams and purple sweet potatoes are very high in nutrients. Add some starchy vegetables to soups and stews to make them thicker and more filling. Keep a few baked potatoes or roasted yams in the fridge for snacks.

Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils)

split pea soupWhen people ask us where we get our protein on a vegan nutrition plan, we tell them we eat legumes. That is the quick and easy answer. But here are the other vegan protein sources.

Legumes are excellent weight loss foods. They fill us up because they contain lots of fiber and protein. Eat about a cup of legumes per day. 

If you have trouble digesting beans, begin with lentils and split peas. They are easiest to digest. They also cook faster than most other beans and they make delicious soups. 

All legumes are low in fat except soybeans. Whole soybeans contain 40% of their calories from fat. Whole soybean products like tempeh and natural soy milk are the same. Young green soybeans (called edamame) are 36% fat.

Tofu is 50% fat. Most of the carbohydrate is removed in making tofu. Tofu is mainly protein and fat, just like meat. After you have reached your weight loss goals, you may add some soy products to your diet. Until that time, just eat all of the other beans. 

Vegetarian mock meats are usually made from isolated soy protein. It is fat free but highly processed. Do not eat foods containing isolated soy protein. Eat whole plant foods.

Whole Grains

3 grain rice

Whole grains are comfort foods in our vegan nutrition plan. In the western world today, it is rare to find any products made of 100% whole grains. Rolled oats, corn, and brown rice are staples in many vegan households. 

We like to make 3 grain rice by mixing brown rice, wheat berries, and rye berries. Other whole grains to try are millet, barley, spelt, and quinoa. 

Look for colored grains in your health food store. The colors in black rice, teff, and Bhutanese red rice contain extra plant nutrients that are good for our health.

Whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce is a good quick meal. Also try corn, rice, and spelt pastas. If you want to eat bread, read labels carefully. Buy Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain bread if you can find it. Or make your own oil-free whole grain bread.

For baking, we like to use white whole wheat flour. It is made from white spring wheat and is lighter than regular whole wheat flour If you reach a weight loss plateau, stop eating all flour products, even foods made from whole grain flour.

Fresh whole fruit

berries mixedFruit is a sweet and colorful part of vegan nutrition. The best fruits are berries. Eat them fresh when they are in season. Eat frozen ones the rest of the year. 

Don't drink fruit juice. It puts too much sugar into your system all at once. And limit dried fruit if you are trying to lose weight. The calories are too concentrated. Put a few raisins in your oatmeal if you like.

Fruit is good for you, but too much will slow down your weight loss. Only eat two or three servings per day. There are a few fruits that are high in fat. Don't eat avocados, olives, or coconut until you get down to normal weight.

Almost all the food you eat should come from the above five food categories. Important! there are a few additional foods and supplements you need for optimal vegan nutrition.

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