Are you trying to eat more vegan foods? Or are you thinking about fully switching to a vegan diet?
There are many health benefits that come with following a vegan diet. In certain cases, vegan diets can be richer in certain nutrients, including vitamin A, C, and E as well as folate and magnesium.
Eating a vegan diet can also help lower your blood sugar levels, improve your kidney function, protect you against certain cancers, lower your risk of heart disease, and reduce your pain from arthritis.
Not to mention, following a vegan diet is much healthier for the planet, as the production of meat leads to the release of harmful greenhouse gasses. If you’re switching to a vegan diet for the first time, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to eat.
Read on to learn about the top healthy vegan foods to eat.
Related: Vegan Avocado Fudge Recipe
Bananas are one of the healthiest foods to incorporate into a vegan diet. Bananas are rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps regulate fluid balance, reduce water retention and blood pressure, prevent osteoporosis, and protect the body against strokes.
Bananas are also rich in healthy carbs, making them the perfect post-workout snack. Bananas can also help you control your blood sugar levels, improve your digestive health, and support your heart health.
The great thing about bananas is that they’re so easy to incorporate into your diet. You can add bananas to your smoothie, yogurt bowls, and oatmeal. There are also many healthy treats you can make with bananas, including banana bread, banana cake, and banana muffins.
Related: Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
2. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another great food to add to a vegan diet. Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious, containing large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and copper.
Sweet potatoes also contain cancer-fighting properties, and they can help improve your gut health, enhance brain function, and support your immune system. They’re also rich in antioxidants, which protect the body from damage due to free radicals.
Some of the most popular ways to enjoy sweet potatoes include:
- Sweet potato fries
- Sweet potato chips
- Sweet potato hash
- Spiralized sweet potatoes
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Sweet potato toast
Sweet potatoes also make a great addition to baked goods. They can add moisture to bread, cakes, and muffins without adding fat.
3. Nut Butter, Nuts, and Seeds
One of the biggest misconceptions about being vegan is that the diet doesn’t have enough protein-rich foods. However, there are many protein-rich foods available on a vegan diet, one of which is nut butter.
Nut butter (as well as nuts and seeds) contain 5 to 12 grams of protein per serving, making it a great alternative to protein-rich animal products. Nut butter is also a great source of fiber, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc.
Not to mention, nuts and seeds are extremely versatile. You can consume them on their own, or you can add them to your salads, casseroles, trail mixes, and other dishes. Certain nuts, such as cashews, can even be made into tasty cheeses.
When it comes to nut butter, you have many different flavors to choose from, including:
- Peanut butter
- Cashew butter
- Macadamia nut butter
- Almond butter
- Walnut butter
Nut butter also makes a great topping for sweet treats. For example, if you’re making banana bread, you can swipe some peanut butter across the top for a unique flavor and protein boost.
Are you looking to eat more intuitively? Check out our guide to intuitive eating!
4. Fruits and Veggies
In addition to bananas, there are many other fruits and veggies you can add to your vegan diet. While mock meats and vegan junk foods are certainly tasty, relying solely on these foods won’t allow you to obtain all of the health benefits the vegan diet has to offer.
If you don’t like eating fruits and vegetables raw, there are many easy and tasty ways you can incorporate them into your meals. Here are just a few ideas:
- Puree some bananas to make banana ice cream as a substitute for dairy-based ice cream
- Use mashed bananas as a substitute for eggs when baking
- Grind up cauliflower to make a cauliflower pizza crust
- Sautee veggies and add them to your favorite pasta dish or curry
- Use jackfruit to make barbecue sandwiches
- Use avocado as a substitute for mayo
- Add fruits and veggies to your morning smoothie
- Add raisins, bananas, and berries to your cereal, yogurt, and smoothie bowls
- Make veggie-based soups
- Spiralize zucchinis or sweet potatoes as a substitute for traditional pasta noodles
- Add extra veggies to your favorite sauces and dressings
- Use lettuce wraps as a substitute for buns and bread
- Use beans, veggies, and spices to make veggie burgers
- Make cauliflower rice
As you can see, there are many ways to get creative with your fruits and veggies.
Legumes are another protein-rich food to add to your vegan diet. Most lentils contain an average of 10 to 20 grams of protein per serving. They’re also a rich source of iron, a nutrient that can sometimes be hard to find on a vegan diet.
Best of all, there are many types of healthy legumes to choose from, including:
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Green beans
- Mung beans
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
Legumes serve as a popular base for curry dishes and veggie burgers. You can also add certain legumes (such as black beans) to your favorite dessert recipes (such as brownies) to add density.
6. Tempeh and Tofu
If you’re looking for the perfect meat substitute, tempeh and tofu are going to be your go-to items. Tempeh and tofu are both soy-based products.
However, they’re rather different when it comes to taste and texture. Tofu is soft and has a more neutral flavor, while tempeh is chewy with a nutty, earthy taste.
Both are rich in protein, with tempeh containing 31 grams of protein per serving and tofu containing 20 grams of protein per serving. You can substitute tofu and tempeh for meat in pretty much any type of dish imaginable, from curries to salads to sandwiches.
Time to Eat Vegan
As you can see, a vegan diet is both nutritious and versatile. Many people think that eating vegan just means eating salads all day, but this is far from the truth.
Incorporating the above foods will make it so you never get bored when following a vegan diet.
Are you looking for more creative ways to add vegan foods to your diet? Check out our Not Your Nanas Cookbook!