Plant-Based Meal Plan for Beginners
A plant-based diet is one of the healthiest ways to eat. Not only does it help you lose weight, it helps you live longer too.
With a few simple tweaks to your current menu plan, you can start enjoying delicious meals without worrying about what goes into them.
This meal plan is designed for beginners, and includes lots of quick and easy dishes that are perfect for weeknights.
You'll find plenty of ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks and desserts.
All you need to do is choose your favorite recipes and make the switch.
The best thing about this plan is that there are no rules - just follow your heart.
If you want to add some extra veggies, go ahead. Or swap out the rice for roti.
Whatever suits your lifestyle, this plan is here to support you every step of the way.
If you're looking to improve your diet, but don't know where to begin, this is the ideal place to start.
What Does Following a Plant-Based Diet Mean, Exactly?
A plant-based diet means reducing and eliminating animal products from your daily diet.
There are many reasons why people choose to follow a plant-based diet.
Some do it because they want to reduce their environmental impact and live healthier lives.
Others do it to avoid the negative side effects of unhealthy food such as chronic disease.
Still others believe that animals deserve better treatment than being raised and killed for human consumption.
What Is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?
A wholefood, plant based (WFPB) diet is a way of eating that focuses primarily on unprocessed foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and nut butter, seeds, pulses, legumes, whole grains, herbs and spices.
It excludes animal foods and highly processed junk foods, such as white flour, sugar, dairy, eggs, soy sauce, oil, and alcohol.
People eating WFPB diets focus on real food, rather than food substitutes.
There is overlap between whole food plant-based and vegan diets, especially around avoiding animal ingredients.
However, there are some key differences.
A vegan diet includes plant based imitations of meat and dairy, while a whole food plant based diet avoids them because they are often processed. They are best consumed as transition foods.
The term “plant-based” refers to any diet that excludes animals, including veganism, but does not necessarily exclude processed foods.
This can include unhealthy processed foods too, such as white flour and sugar.
What Does the Current Research Say About Plant-Based Diets?
Eating a plantbased diet has myriad health benefits. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that adopting such a diet could help prevent or even treat certain conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, some cancers, and depression.
The current research suggests that eating a plantbased diet might benefit our mental and physical wellbeing.
For example, one study found that vegetarians had lower levels of anxiety and stress compared to omnivores. Another study showed that vegetarians had healthier blood pressure than those who ate meat.
A recent study found that people who followed a plantbased diet had a lower risk of dying prematurely.
In summary, the current research suggests that eating less meat could help prevent certain types of cancer, lower the risk of premature death, and promote good health.
The Benefits of a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet
A wholefood, plant- based diet is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. It’s easy to follow and doesn’t require you to count calories or track points.
In fact, there are no foods that are 'forbidden' on a wholefood, plant- base diet, unlike vegetarian diets and vegan diets.
Instead, you focus on filling up on nutrient-rich food like fruits and veggies - think yummy foods like hemp seeds and roasted sweet potatoes - while cutting out processed junk food.
Eating a wholefood, plant based diet can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and even help prevent certain cancers.
Plus, studies show that those who eat a wholefood plant-based diet tend to shed pounds faster than others who don't.
Here are some of the benefits of eating a wholefood, plant -based diet:
• Lower Cholesterol Levels
• Reduce Inflammation
• Prevent Cancer
• Lose Weight Fast
Improve Heart Health
Whole food, plant-based diets are very effective in improving heart health, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in July 2017.
They are low in sodium, saturated fats, and cholesterol.
They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, healthy fats, and many other beneficial compounds.
Animal-based foods are high in cholesterol and saturated fats.
They are also high in sodium and other harmful ingredients like nitrites, artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and growth promoters.
Processed foods are high on calories, sugar, salt, and unhealthy additives.
Cutting out these foods and replacing animal sources of protein with plant-based protein can help improve your heart health.
Prevent or Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
A new study found that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
As a result, it's important to make sure you're getting enough of these foods every day.
If you have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, following a wholefood, plant based diet could even help reverse this condition.
It may be possible to reduce and even get off medication by switching to a wholefood, plant based diet under medical supervision
Lower Blood Pressure
Another study found that vegetarians have lower blood pressure than nonvegetarian adults.
This means that if you want to keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, consider adopting a wholefood, plantbased diet.
Reduce Your Risk Of Cancers
One study showed that people who ate more fresh produce were less likely to develop cancer.
Another study found that vegans had a significantly lower rate of breast cancer compared to women who consumed meat.
The same was true for prostate cancer.
There is also evidence that suggests that a wholefood, plant base diet can help prevent colon cancer.
Lose Weight Faster
Studies show that those who adopt a wholefood, plant based diet tend to lose weight faster than others who don’t.
This may even have implications on improving fertility.
This is because nutritious foods on a whole food plant based diet are calorie dilute. For example, whole wheat bread is not as calorie dense as white bread. Whole-wheat pasta is not as calorie dense as white pasta.
Even calorie dense whole plant foods like peanut butter have been proven to not contribute to weight gain, while processed foods like oil can contribute to weight gain.
You can still enjoy your favourite foods in different avatars for example, baked sweet potato fingers instead of sweet potato fries.
How to Shop for a Plant-Based Diet
Plant-based diets are making a comeback, and it’s no longer just vegans who are embracing the lifestyle.
In fact, according to one survey, more than 50% of Indians say they want to eat more plant-based.
Here are some tips for shopping for plant-based foods.
• Look for labels like “plant based” or “vegan.” Many packaged foods now include such terms on their packaging, indicating that they contain ingredients derived from plants rather than animals. This doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily healthier; it simply indicates that they’re free of animal products.
• Avoid ultra-processed foods. These are typically high in sugar, saturated fat, sodium and added preservatives. They might look appealing because they’re colorful, but they often lack nutritional value. Instead, opt for whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
• Choose organic whenever possible. Organic foods are grown without pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. They’re also more likely to be GMO-free.
• Don’t assume that vegan food must be unhealthy. You might think that since meat substitutes aren’t real meat, they can’t be nutritious. But plant-based foods—like beans, lentils, tofu and soy milk—are nutrient-dense and even high in protein.
• Eat plenty of fiber. Fiber helps keep you full and regular, which makes it easier to avoid overeating. Good sources include nuts, seeds, oats, bananas, apples, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, garlic, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, and avocados.
Plant-Based Diet Foods List
The following foods are considered plant-based diet foodstuffs:
• Lentils, Legumes and Pulses
• Nuts and Seeds
• Grains (whole grain)
• Leafy Greens
• Herbs and Spices
• Some condiments like Nutritional Yeast and Vinegar
A 7-Day Sample Menu for a Standard Plant-Based Diet
The best way to start eating healthier is to change your lifestyle. If you are looking for ideas, here is a sample menu for a standard plant-based diet.
This week, prepare a lot of food ahead of time. Make sure you have enough ingredients and equipment to cook everything.
Start off with a whole food, plant-based diet meal plan. I recommend starting out with a whole food, whole grain plant-based diet. There are many benefits to this type of diet including weight loss, better health, lower cholesterol levels, improved mood, increased energy, and more.
Try to eat at home as often as possible. Eating at home allows you to control what goes into your body. When you eat out, it is easy to overindulge because there are no restrictions.
Add more variety of natural foods to your meals. Variety keeps things interesting. Instead of having the same thing every night, try adding different vegetables, fruits, grains, dals, nuts, seeds, spices, etc.
Use the recipes below to make delicious dishes. These recipes are simple and quick to make. They taste great and are packed full of nutrients.
You can also replace unhealthy ingredients with plant foods. For example, up your protein intake with chickpeas instead of chicken!
You can also use these recipes for creating your own menus for any day of the weeks. Feel free to add extra legumes, veggies, and/or healthy sources of fat like avocado and almonds.
All these meal plans are from the Plant-based Diet Masterclass. Check out the course here with 21 days of meal plans.
Day 1 on a Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
3 cups Watermelon
Day 2 on a Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
1 cup pineapple + 2 small bananas
Karnataka Knol Kohl Kootu / Kohlrabi Lentil Curry from Karnataka
Pidi Kozhukattai / Steamed Broken Millet Dumplings
Day 3 on a Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
Day 4 on a Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
Day 5 on a Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
Day 6 on a Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
Day 7 on a Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
What to eat on a plant-based diet
A plant-based diet encourages consuming lots vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Foods like dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and processed food are discouraged. This type of eating plan can help you lose weight, feel better, and live longer.
The benefits of a vegan diet include:
• Lower risk of heart disease
• Better digestion
• Improved blood pressure
• Potentially fewer allergies
• More energy
• Less inflammation
• Longer life expectancy
• Increased mental clarity
• Reduced risk of cancer
• Weight loss
• Healthier skin
• Strong bones
• Healthy teeth
• Improved mood
• Improved sleep
• Improved sex life
• Improved athletic performance
• And much more…
Plant-based Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast or brunch is one of the most important meals of the day.
Your body processes calories the best early on during the day.
Personally, I eat twice a day - brunch in the late morning and a lighter dinner in the early evening.
Here are some ideas for making a plant-based breakfast that will get you going in the right direction.
2. Wholegrain Idli
3. Brown Rice Dosa
4. Ragi Porridge
5. Almond Milk
6. Chia Pudding
7. Sourdough Bread Sandwich
8. Green Smoothie
9. Greek Salad with Plant-based Cheese
10. Tofu Scramble
Plant-based lunch ideas
If you're trying to cut down on meat and dairy, it might seem like a daunting task. But don't worry - we've got some easy meal plans that'll help you find alternatives that are bursting with flavour.
These three lunches will keep your energy levels high throughout the day.
They're packed full of veggies and fruits, which make them a perfect way to stay fit and healthy.
So whether you're cutting down on red meat or just want to try something new, here are our favorite plant-based South Indian lunch recipes:
- Tendli Sukka / Ivy Gourd Curry
- Milagu Kuzhambu
- Karnataka Knol Kohl Kootu / Kohlrabi Lentil Curry from Karnataka
And here our top 3 plant-based North Indian lunch recipes:
Plant-based dinner ideas
The world is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of eating plant-based foods. There are many reasons why people choose to go vegan, including animal welfare concerns and health issues.
But what about those who want to enjoy delicious food while still being mindful of their diets? Here are some tasty recipes that will make it easier to incorporate more plants into your meal plans.
- Zero Oil, Baked Mirchi Bajji
- Cauliflower Bisque
- Foxtail Millet Semolina Upma
- Vale Bajji Ambat / Malabar Spinach Curry from the Western Ghats
- Methi Sprout Chaat
- Raw Mango Chutney or Maangaa Thuvaiyal
Tips for following the plant-based diet meal plan
Following a plant-based diet doesn't mean you'll spend hours in the kitchen prepping delicious meals every day.
In fact, many people are surprised to learn just how easy it is to eat healthfully without having to sacrifice flavor.
If you're considering adopting a plant-based eating habit, start small.
Add one new food to your menu each week and try out a few new recipes.
You might even want to experiment with some vegan cooking classes to help you develop a repertoire of tasty recipes.
The key to eating well while avoiding animal products is to add plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds to your daily diet. These foods provide essential nutrients and fiber, along with protein, fat and carbohydrates.
They also taste great, so there's no reason not to include them in your everyday meals.
Here are five tips to make sure you don't miss out on anything important when you adopt a plant-based diet:
1. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber; fruits offer sweetness and natural sugar. Aim for 3 servings of fruit, 2 servings of green leafy vegetables like spinach and collard greens, 1 serving of cruciferous vegetables and 2 servings of other vegetables everyday.
2. Include beans, lentils, peas and tofu. Beans and legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans and soybeans pack a nutritional punch thanks to high levels of protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins. Although tofu is technically a processed food, it is super healthy. Sambar, rasam and dal are classic Indian dishes.
3. Make use of herbs and spices. Herbs and spices can give your food extra flavor and variety. For example, basil adds color and flavor to pasta sauces. Cinnamon brings warmth to sweet treats. Garlic gives everything from baked potatoes to pizza crust a savory kick.
4. Enjoy dairy alternatives. Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter are full of saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium. Instead, opt for almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, oat milk, soy milk, nut milks and egg substitutes. Some brands also come fortified with vitamin D.
5. Add nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds help improve fiber intake, which lower cholesterol. They also help improve protein intake. Try almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and flaxseeds.
A Guide to Healthy Eating: Strategies, tips, and recipes to help you make better food choices
Eat Real Food - Get Back To Your Roots. It Isn't About Fancy Dishes, It's About Getting Your Basics Right.
Today, We Know Much More About Nutrition Than Ever Before.
In today's busy world, it can sometimes feel like there are too many options out there to choose from.
But what if I told you that you could eat healthier without even trying?
What if I told you that eating healthy doesn't mean having to give up delicious foods?
In fact, you don't have to sacrifice flavor at all. You just need to learn how to use some simple strategies, tips, and recipes.
This free Plant-based Kickstart online course covers everything you need to know about healthy eating.
From choosing the best ingredients to making sure you're getting enough fiber, this guide gives you the tools to make smart decisions every day.
With over 200 easy-to-follow recipes, expert advice, and practical information, Plant Based Kickstart - A Guide to Healthy Eating is the perfect resource for anyone looking to improve their diet.
Vegan shopping list
A healthy vegan diet should include nuts, beans, lentils, peas and tofu, according to nutritionists. They recommend eating diets rich in fruit and green veg, such as broccoli and spinach. But they warn against choosing too many processed foods, sweets and fried food.
- Choose whole grains like brown rice or millets instead of white rice and maida.
- Nuts, seeds, legume and soy products are great sources of protein. These contain essential amino acids that help build muscle and keep you feeling full. They're also rich in unsaturated fats, fibre and vitamins B6 and E.
- Berries are the most nutrient-dense fruits.They contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation.
- Cruciferous veggies - cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts - are also high in nutrients. They contain indoles, lignans and glucosinolates, which help fight cancer.
A wholefoods, plant based shopping list will help you shop smarter and avoid processed food.
FarmFreshBangalore.com is a fantastic online store for Whole Food Plant Based Groceries, Fruits & Fresh Vegetables. They deliver to you home anywhere in Bangalore.
Shop at organic farmers markets or buy from organic farmers like Farm Fresh Bangalore. Farmers' markets often provide a wider selection of seasonal foods. Buying from a producer allows you to know exactly where your food came from.
Avoid buying packaged goods.
For meals, try making your own salad dressings or sauces. Make sure to check out our guide to eating cleanly.
The American Heart Association recommends eating three servings of whole grain foods each day.
This includes brown rice, red rice, millets, whole wheat, oats, barley, oats, rye, farro, amaranthus seeds, and buckwheat.
It also includes vegan recipes like rotis, idli, dosa, breads, pasta, crackers, muffins, cookies, cakes, pizza crust, biscuits, popcorn.
Whole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, copper, manganese, selenium, and vitamins A, E, D, K, calcium, and protein. They are also low in fat and calories.
A study found that people who ate three daily servings of whole grains had a lower risk of heart disease compared to those who did not eat whole grains.
Another study found that consuming whole grains helps reduce blood pressure.
In addition, studies show that people who consume whole grains tend to weigh less and have better cholesterol profiles.
In fact, one study showed that women who consumed whole grains weighed about 1 kg less than those who didn't.
If you're looking for more information on how to incorporate whole grains into your diet, check out this course. You'll find some great tips on how to make whole grains easier to include in your meals.
Nuts and legumes provide a complete protein. They contain all nine essential amino acid building blocks that make up every cell in our body.
Plant proteins are also high in dietary fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, biotin, copper, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, iodine, zinc, chromium, and phytosterols.
Plant foods such as soybeans, lentils, beans, peas, peanuts, chickpeas, and almonds are considered excellent sources of protein.
Other good sources include wheat germ, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, barley, quinoa, millet, amaranth, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts, and avocados.
A serving size of nuts or legumes varies depending on the type of food. For example, one ounce of raw peanuts contains about 5 grams of protein while one cup of cooked black beans contains about 24 grams of protein.
Eating eggs every day increases risk factors like high cholesterol levels, obesity, and Type II Diabetes. But there are some egg substitutes out there. Here are three options you can try today:
- Tofu for making vegan scrambled eggs
- Flaxseed powder in baking
- Mashed potatoes or apples in baking
Healthy snacks include fruits, vegetables, and protein foods like Sampoorna Ahara's healthy snacks and sugary treats. They are easy to eat and contain plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Nuts are great for snagging quick energy because they're high in fiber. Try almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, and Brazil nuts.
Choose healthy snacks like Sampoorna Ahara's healthy snacks. These tasty snacks are packed with good fats and proteins.
Spices and condiments
Antioxidants are compounds found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and spices that protect cells against damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause cell damage and contribute to aging and disease.
Antioxidant nutrients help fight off free radical damage.
Foods high in antioxidants include amla, cloves, blueberries, broccoli, kale, spinach, grapes, and green tea.
Turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices known to man.
It contains curcuminoids, which are responsible for turmeric’s bright yellow color and its medicinal properties.
Curcuminoids help reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in joints and muscles. They also boost immunity and prevent cancer.
Cinnamon, ginger, garlic, basil, oregano, pudina, coriander, bay leaves, cardamom, parsley, chili and black pepper are some of the other common spices used in cooking.
All contain different types of antioxidants, depending on what type of compound they contain.
Garlic, for example, has sulfur compounds that block oxidation and inhibit cancer growth.
Rosemary has polyphenols that improve circulation and strengthen bones.
Thyme has flavonoids that promote healthy brain function.
And cinnamon has quinines that stimulate metabolism and fight bacteria.
Condiments such as mustard, horseradish, miso paste vinegar, lemon juice , tamarind, and hot sauce have antioxidant benefits too.
They all contain phytochemicals called phenolic acids, which are linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D aren’t just found in foods like meat and dairy — they are primarily found in nature.
Here are our mentor Dr. Michael Greger's recommendations for supplements:
At least 2,000 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin once each week, ideally as a chewable, sublingual, or liquid supplement taken on an empty stomach
or at least 50 mcg daily of supplemental cyanocobalamin (you needn’t worry about taking too much)
or servings of B12-fortified foods three times a day (at each meal), each containing at least 190% of the Daily Value listed on the nutrition facts label (based on the new labeling that started January 1, 2020—the target is 4.5 mcg three times a day).
Those over 65 years of age should take at least 1,000 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin every day.
Tip: If experiencing deficiency symptoms, the best test is a urine MMA (not serum B12 level)
For those living in India, 15-30 minutes of midday sun (15 for those with lighter skin; 30 for those with darker skin) or 2,000 IU supplemental vitamin D
The Bottom Line - Plant Based Diet Meal Plan for Beginners
This is a very simple, easy-to-follow meal plan designed specifically for people looking to start eating healthier.
It includes everything you need to know to begin transitioning into a plant-based lifestyle.
You can try a Balanced Plant-based Meal Now.Or, you could get the complete set of 21 meal plans along with guided coaching at the Plant-based Diet Masterclass.
Dr. Achyuthan Eswar
Co-founder, SampoornaAhara.com & NutritionScience.in