Balanced Vegan Meal Planning: Tips and Ideas 

In recent years, the popularity of veganism has increased a lot due to certain factors surrounding it. This might be due to the potential health benefits of going vegan, environmental concerns and/or ethical considerations.

Unfortunately, some may assume that following a vegan diet automatically guarantees a balanced and nutritious intake. The truth is that, just as with every diet, it is essential to plan meals carefully to ensure all nutrient requirements are met.

In this article, we’ll share some of my valuable tips and ideas for a balanced vegan diet. Whether you are a seasoned vegan or considering transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, this article will serve as a valuable resource for achieving optimal health and nourishment.

plant based meal

Key Takeaways:

  • Planning is key: Following a balanced vegan diet requires careful meal planning to ensure all nutrient requirements are met.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Be aware of the nutrients commonly lacking in a vegan diet, such as calcium, iron, vitamin B12, iodine, and selenium, and incorporate plant-based sources of these nutrients into your meals.
  • Start slow: If you’re new to a vegan diet, it’s recommended to start slowly by gradually reducing your intake of animal products and incorporating more plant-based foods.
  • Maintain a healthy plate ratio: Follow the healthy eating plate model, dividing your plate into half vegetables, a quarter grains/starches, and a quarter protein to ensure a good mix of nutrients.
  • Focus on high-protein foods: Include legumes, seeds, and nuts in your meals to boost protein intake, and choose whole grains over refined carbohydrates for sustained energy and healthy digestion.

What Does a Well-Balanced Vegan Meal Look Like?

A vegan diet is characterized by the exclusion of all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. Instead, it focuses on consuming a variety of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. This might seem straightforward, but you need to seriously take the consideration of your nutritional needs. Only then you will achieve a healthy, balanced, plant-based diet.

By understanding the nutritional requirements and incorporating a variety of foods, it is possible to create a well-balanced vegan meal plan. This involves including sources of protein, such as legumes, tofu, and tempeh, as well as incorporating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats

When your diet is not balanced, you might feel hungry all the time.

Can You Have a Balanced Diet as a Vegan?

You can maintain a balanced diet as a vegan as long as you plan your meals carefully and ensure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients. With good planning and an understanding of what your body needs, you can meet your nutritional requirements without consuming animal products.

It’s important to be aware of the nutrients that are commonly lacking in a vegan diet, such as calciumiron, vitamin B12iodine, and selenium. To address these deficiencies, you can incorporate plant-based sources of these nutrients into your meals. For example, you can get calcium from fortified plant-based milk and leafy greens, iron from legumes and fortified cereals, and vitamin B12 from fortified foods or supplements.

By making informed choices and being mindful of your nutrient intake, you can enjoy a healthy and balanced vegan diet.

If You’re New To Vegan Diet – Start Slow

There’s nothing worse for your body than a sudden shock. If you have been an omnivore for your whole life, we strongly suggest to start slowly. This approach will make your adaptation as smooth as a fresh smoothie.

Start with eating smaller amounts of animal products and incorporating more plant-based foods. Do that for a longer period of time. 

For example, one day, you could swap cow milk with plant-based milk, and the other day pick a soy-based yogurt instead of a dairy one.

Some people take the super-slow approach and go vegan only for one day during the week. Next, two days vegan within the week. And so on. Until they make a full transition. 

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Maintain a Healthy Ratio on Your Plate

The healthy eating plate is a useful tool made by “Canada’s Food Guide” for creating balanced meals. By dividing your plate into half vegetables, a quarter of grains and/or starches, and a quarter of protein, you can ensure that you’re getting a good mix of nutrients.

Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while grains and starches offer energy and fiber. Protein is crucial for supporting muscle growth and repair. By following this plate model, you can ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients in appropriate proportions.

If you’re wondering how it is possible to get enough protein: check out this meal plan guide on protein.

vegan foods

Pick High-protein Foods

Legumes such as beans, lentils, and peas are excellent sources of plant-based protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. They can be added to soups, salads, and stews to boost the protein content of your meals.

Seeds like chia, hemp, and flax are also rich in protein and healthy fats. Sprinkle them on top of your morning smoothie or yogurt for an extra protein kick.

Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts, are not only a great source of protein but also provide heart-healthy fats. Snack on them or add them to your favorite recipes for added protein and flavor.

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Don’t Eat Too Many Carbohydrates

Be mindful of your carbohydrate intake. Loading up on refined carbs will lead to weight gain and blood sugar swings. Instead, opt for whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, or quinoa. 

These whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, providing sustained energy and promoting healthy digestion. They also have a lower glycemic index, meaning they won’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.

Always Take Nutrients into Consideration

Since we’re eliminating animal-based products, it’s easy to forget about the fundamentals of a healthy diet – which are nutrients. Some of those are vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. For example, stress and the deficiency of B12 and D3 vitamins could cause headaches

Stack Up Enough B12

Make sure to stock up on enough B12 to avoid nutritional deficiencies and keep your energy levels high. Very low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia, which can be a concern for vegans. It’s important to note that a deficiency in vitamin B12 can also cause weakened bones, impaired immunity, and other health issues.

To prevent this, aim for 2,000–2,500 mcg of vitamin B12 on a weekly basis. You can achieve this by incorporating fortified foods such as plant-based milk, breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast into your diet. Additionally, consider taking a B12 supplement to ensure you’re meeting your needs.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice on meeting your nutritional needs on a vegan diet.

dry vegan food


A typical adult needs 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day to maintain bone health. (link) Calcium can be found in soy foods, beans, nuts, seeds, some grains, certain vegetables, and leafy greens.


This is another crucial nutrient that can be found in seeds, nuts, grains, and some vegetables, but the intake is very low. It’s important to get at least 8-11 milligrams of zinc a day. Fortified foods are a good option to boost your zinc levels.


Another nutrient that can be easily overlooked. Low iron levels lead to anemia. You should aim for at least 8-18 milligrams of iron a day.

You should combine legumes, soybeans, and leafy greens with peppers, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli). Why? Because the latter are rich in vitamin C, which improves iron absorption.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, omega-3 fatty acids contain fats that can massively improve your overall brain health and immunity. You can find omega-3 in fatty fish, walnuts, flax, and chia seeds. 

Vegans don’t eat fish, but it’s worth mentioning that the omega-3 found in fatty fish and plants are different. Your body will need to convert the plant omega-3 into its desired form – the one acquired from fatty fish. 

More Guides to Vegan Brands

If you’d like some food ideas to help you on your vegan journey, here are links to some of my Vegan Food Brand Guides:

Looking for a sign that it’s time to take charge of your diet? This is it. Watch the Food or Health Masterclass—completely free—and discover the 10 surprising nutrition breakthroughs everyone should know. Reserve your free spot here!