I never liked salad growing up, and even in my first few years as a vegan, I didn’t eat salad at all. People would ask me, “You’re a vegan who doesn’t like salad??? What do you eat, then?” They just couldn’t fathom what my diet consisted of.
Can you be a vegan without eating salad? There are many ways to be vegan without salad. As a vegan, most of your calories will come from grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruit. Adding vegetables will help you stay healthy, but your vegetables don’t need to come in the form of salad.
In this article, I’ll lay out some of the options for different ways to eat vegan, just so you can get a real sense of how different many options are available to you.
I’ll mention some different considerations for how you might want to plan your vegan diet. But the overall takeaway is that there’s not just one vegan diet; there are many vegan diets.
You Can Vegan-ize Any Diet. Period.
Whatever diet you like to eat right now, whether it’s “meat and potatoes,” or pizza every day, or Mediterranean with pasta and olive oil, or lots of cereal and junk food… there are ways to make it vegan.
“Mock meats” and other replacement foods make it especially easy to veganize any diet: Just replace the hamburger with a veggie burger; replace the milk with almond-, coconut-, or soy-milk; replace the cheese with vegan cheese, and so on.
You get the picture. Easy as pie. With the help of products like these, you could potentially go vegan and barely notice the change.
Don’t Like “Mock Meats” and “Fake Cheese”? You Can Still Veganize Any Food.
If you don’t want to use “mock meats” or replacement foods because they’re processed or unhealthy or weird, you can still veganize any meal without them.
Have you heard of banana ice cream (some people call it banana “nice cream”)? It’s ice cream made from blending up frozen bananas. It’s healthy and simple and delicious. Here’s a simple recipe for Banana Nice Cream:
• 2 ripe bananas that you’ve peeled and then frozen
• 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
• A cup of plant-based milk (soy milk, almond milk, or other), or half a cup might be enough
• Blend it all together till it’s smooth.
If you want a vegan cheesy flavor, but you don’t want to use the processed vegan cheeses because they’re expensive or weird to you, then look into nutritional yeast.
Vegans love nutritional yeast. It has a cheesy flavor, and you can drizzle it over pasta, popcorn, or anything you want.
Want Vegan Fast Food or Junk Food? Yeah, That Exists, Too
If you want to find all the vegan options at McDonald’s (not too many), or at Taco Bell (a little better), you can find lists and reviews about this easily on Google. In fact, you can find those lists for pretty much any restaurant out there!
Here is a guide that PETA posted for eating vegan at common chain restaurants.
If you want to find convenient lists of all the vegan cereals, or the vegan snacks common in gas stations, you can find those, too. You might be surprised by how many “accidentally” vegan options there are. Milk and eggs are not required for everything!
If you’re friends with any other vegans, you can also just ask them questions like “Hey, what are the best vegan brands of cookies?” They will likely know and will be able to tell you with some enthusiasm.
Vegans tend to have this information, and we enjoy sharing it because it’s special and fun when you find an “accidentally vegan” product out there in the wild. It’s like a treasure hunt.
Be Careful: “Vegan” Doesn’t Mean “Healthy”
Just because you can vegan-ize any diet doesn’t mean that it will be a healthy diet.
As you move away from animal-based foods, there are arguably some nutritional benefits, such as less saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, and more fiber. But many of the options I listed above for vegan alternative foods are honestly still in (or near) junk food territory.
While I completely understand being a picky eater who doesn’t like many vegetables, I do want to encourage readers to make positive choices for themselves and their families. So I encourage you not to rely too much on vegan fast food options and vegan processed foods.
Mock meats can be fun, and they can ease the transition, but I would encourage you to keep exploring plant-based meals that center fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts/seeds, and whole grains.
This is an issue that has come up for other “healthy” kinds of diets, too: Now that there are gluten-free donuts, for example, a “gluten-free diet” doesn’t necessarily help people eat healthy!
Same goes for paleo: I think I’ve seen “paleo bars,” like breakfast bars in a shiny foil wrapper? Wait, they had those back in the paleolithic era?
Four Ways to Add Vegetables to Your Diet Without Salad
If you’re planning on being vegan without salad, I still want to leave you with some tips for how you might add some vegetables into your diet without salad.
Vegetables have anti-cancer properties, and they have been shown to reduce aging in your body. They’re really the healthiest thing you can eat. Even the paleo folks agree that vegetables are key, and paleo folks don’t agree with vegans on much!
When you find a vegetable-heavy meal that works for you, I suggest making it a go-to meal or snack. Eat it as often as you can without getting bored or sick of it!
Here are some ideas that might work for you. Many of these ideas can allow you to eat vegetables without noticing the texture or taste of the individual vegetables as much:
1. Make or Buy Soups Loaded with Vegetables.
I found that if the overall soup has a good taste and smell to it, then I can barely even distinguish the different vegetables in it: My mind just registers it as a delicious soup.
If you’re new to making soups, there’s got to be thousands of vegan soup recipes online, but I also have found that it’s pretty easy to make one without an exact recipe.
Advice for the new soup chef: Start with some vegetable broth or some vegan Better Than Buillion, and then just add a bunch of different vegetables and maybe some starches or grains, too, depending what you have around.
Add some sliced up potatoes, beans, and vegetables (fresh, canned, or frozen). Add some garlic and onion (or even garlic and onion powder works) for seasoning.
Soup seems pretty forgiving for a rookie chef. It’s not very difficult to get a good tasting soup, and you can load it up with vegetables.
2. Try Making Green Smoothies.
If done right, they usually just taste like fruit. You’ll see the green color, but the sweetness of the fruit will be the main taste.
Green smoothies come in countless varieties, and you can experiment with your own concoctions, but here is a basic green smoothie recipe I would recommend as a base to get started with:
• 2 ripe bananas
• 1 cup of frozen strawberries or blueberries
• 1 cup of soy milk (or water is actually fine)
• a few handfuls of spinach
• Blend it up! Add more liquid if needed to blend
3. Mix Vegetables into Your Pasta or Beans-and-Rice.
Find a sauce or seasoning that you like adding to the whole dish, and it will flavor the vegetables, too, so you won’t really taste them much.
I’ve been amazed by how many vegetables I can get myself to eat if they are smothered in some delicious sauce I like and mixed in with rice.
If you really want to get sneaky, you can put some vegetables in a blender with your sauce, and actually blend them into the sauce. (This works well with red sauce for pasta.)
4. Find a Vegetable You Like Snacking on Raw.
And just nibble a few pieces every time you walk through the kitchen. Eat a few bites while you’re cooking your other meals. I do this with baby carrots.
Maybe you like snow peas or sugar snap peas, celery, or bell peppers. Just have some that you can eat raw in small portions throughout the day. If you like it more with a dip, such as hummus, that can be part of the routine, too.
Using these tips, you should be able to get plenty of vegetables into your diet without going anywhere NEAR a salad!
No Salad, No Problem
So in closing, there are about a million ways to be vegan, and yes, there are plenty of options without salad.
So if you’re not a salad eater, that’s fine! You can remain stubborn about it, and never eat a salad in your life, even as a healthy vegan.
You’ll still have plenty of options for meals, and even plenty of options for how to get your vegetables and stay healthy, too. No salad required.
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.
2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).