12 Delicious Vegan Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Food experts share their delicious vegan recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to show you how easy—and delicious—a vegan diet can be.
What is a vegan diet?
You may decide to eat vegan in Veganuary or any other month, out of concern for animal welfare, the environment, because of health issues, or for weight loss. But, what exactly do vegans eat? A vegan diet avoids all animal products, including animal flesh (meat, poultry, and fish), dairy products (milk, cream, butter, yogurt, and cheese), eggs, and honey, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation. This means zero ingredients of any kind from animal products, such as gelatin (often used in vitamin capsules as a thickening agent), whey, and dairy fat ingredients. (This includes protein powders, which is why we compiled a list of the best vegan protein powders on the market.)
However, vegans range in their degree of strictness with the diet. “Some will not eat at restaurants that prepare meat, while others don’t mind if the same grill used to cook meat is used to prepare their food,” says Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutritionist known as “the Plant Powered Dietitian.” “Some vegans do not worry about trace ingredients (like eggs or dairy products) found in food products, while others scour food labels carefully.”
Many vegans also don’t buy products made from animals, including leather, silk, or wool. They may also avoid household and cosmetic products that were tested on animals. (Be sure to check out the best vegan gift baskets on Amazon for any occasion.)
How vegans get protein
You may equate protein with meat, but there’s plenty of protein in a vegan diet. Vegans tend to get their daily dose of protein mostly from plant-based foods like soy (tofu, edamame, tempeh), pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), nuts, seeds, peanuts, plus a bit from whole grains and vegetables. It is possible to consume adequate protein from plant sources.
Looking to follow a vegan lifestyle? Read on for our food experts’ favorite vegan recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast: Super acai berry bowl
Palmer, also the author of the The Plant Powered Diet and Plant Powered for Life, created a delicious mix of ancient grains, coconut, antioxidant-rich blueberries, and blackberries to fuel your morning. You’ll get all the acai berry benefits, and it’s ready in just a few minutes, so you’re not dashing out the door. Bonus—it’s also gluten-free. When you are running late, here are some on-the-go vegan fast-food breakfast options to keep in mind.
Breakfast: Tofu scramble
If eggs are your go-to morning meal, try this plant-based tofu scramble from Catherine Brown, plant-based chef and culinary nutritionist. Great for a special weekend or holiday breakfasts, this dish is high in plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, and potassium, and is a good source of calcium and iron. Brown shares, “I use fortified nutritional yeast here for both the color and flavor addition, as well as an important source of Vitamin B12.” (Get more tasty vegan breakfast ideas.)
Top this meal off with vegan bacon—here are three ways to make it.
Breakfast: Pomegranate pistachio chia breakfast pudding
If you haven’t jumped on the chia seed train yet, this is the perfect breakfast for you. This decadent dish, created by Amy Gorin, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City, makes it feel like you’re having dessert for breakfast. She loves it because you can prep it the night before, and then you have a delicious, nutritious meal ready the next morning. It’s full of protein and fiber to keep you fueled. You’ll love these other chia seed pudding recipes too.
Breakfast: Savory steel cut oats with spinach, mushroom, and tofu
Not a fan of sweet breakfasts? Try these delicious savory steel cut oats packed with protein from tofu and multiple vitamins from spinach and mushrooms. This meal, created by Palmer, boasts ten grams of fiber to fill you up all morning long. Sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, onion, and black pepper provide a tasty spice blend, turning the traditionally sweet oats into a rich, savory anytime meal. If you’re interested in going vegan but unsure of how to get there, try these 12 tips on becoming vegan from experts.
Lunch: Avocado chickpea salad sandwich
If you like sandwiches and plan to go vegan, you’re probably wondering what vegans eat when they want a sandwich. Canadian dietitian Abbey Sharp, RD, has just the lunch for you. This chicken-salad-inspired vegan sandwich combines smashed avocado for the creamy texture, along with chickpeas instead of chicken, lemon juice, and a hint of hot chili. Load up the veggies—tomatoes, greens, shredded carrots, and beets, some of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. This lunch packs serious amounts of fiber, healthy fats, vitamin A, and phytochemicals, a class of foods that fight disease.
Lunch: Southwestern black bean, quinoa, and mango salad
Palmer offers this light, yet satisfying salad marrying sweet mango with spicy jalapeno, ancient gluten-free grain (quinoa is actually a seed), and healthful spices such as turmeric and garlic. This dish is rich in vitamin C from bell peppers and vitamin A from mango, two antioxidants the body uses to stave off chronic disease. It’s an excellent make-ahead lunch that you can prep once and enjoy for several meals, as it keeps well in the fridge.
Lunch: Lentil patties with cashew cream sauce
If you’re craving a burger, but avoiding meat, try Palmer’s lentil patties and you’ll be more than satisfied. The combo of soy sauce, onion, garlic, and Dijon mustard liven up the protein-rich lentils. It’s packed with fiber from the lentils, potato, oats, whole wheat bread crumbs, chia seeds, and carrots. In place of cream sauce, Palmer offers a nut-based “cream” sauce made from cashews and mixed with fresh basil for a tasty condiment. Lentils are quick-cooking legumes, ideal for weekday meals.
Lunch: Crispy tofu nuggets
If you love crunchy chicken nuggets or fish sticks, Angie Asche, RD, registered dietitian, sports nutritionist, and personal trainer, created a vegan option just for you. “These delicious crispy tofu nuggets are an easy plant-based recipe your whole family will love!” she says. They’re lightly breaded with whole wheat breadcrumbs, spices, and nutritional yeast; and they’re baked—not fried.”
Dinner: Chickpea coconut curry
So, what do vegans eat for the main event, dinner? Whitney English, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist in Los Angeles, modified a rich curry dish into a plant-based dinner. Believe it or not, it comes together in less than 30 minutes. The combination of sweet potatoes, onion, kale, bell pepper, and brown rice (or quinoa for extra protein) is spicy, fiber-full, and packed with vitamins A, C, and K. Chickpeas plus rice make a complete protein, which gives your body the building blocks it needs. (Check out these other complete proteins that aren’t meat.)
Dinner: Vegan tostadas
If you’re in the mood for south-of-the-border flavors, you’re in for a delicious treat. English created a simple black bean-based tostada that is so simple, you’ll have dinner on the table super fast. Walnuts in the filling boost fiber, protein, and healthy fats. There are many nutrients you could be missing as a vegan, particularly iron, so beans are a good source of these important nutrients. Perfect for both Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesdays.
Dinner: Crockpot lentil tikka masala
Need a vegan meal but don’t have time for lots of prep? Cue slow cooker. Asche proves through her lentil tikka masala that you can adjust your favorite dishes into plant-based goodness. “If you’re a fan of the incredibly popular Indian favorite, Chicken tikka masala, you’ll love this lighter vegan version! Packed with veggies and flavor, this nutritious recipe makes up to 8 servings, making it a great recipe for your weekly meal prep,” Asche says.
Dinner: Roasted butternut squash kale farro pilaf
“Buy pre-peeled and cut butternut squash, toss with oil and spices, and roast while putting the other ingredients together,” says Judith Scharman Draughon, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist. The versatile and slightly sweet butternut squash is the star of this plant-based dinner. Scharman Draughon suggests, “In fact, if you are in a hurry, buy the onions and celery pre-cut too.” Farro is a delicious ancient grain that cooks in about 15 minutes even though it is 100 percent whole grain. The curry and coriander flavors are even better the next day, so it’s perfect for leftovers. The dish is full of fiber and micronutrients, vitamins A and K too.
If you’re short on time, be sure to check out the best vegan meal delivery services that’ll have your bases covered.
- International Food Information Council Foundation: “The Basics of a Vegan Diet”
- Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutritionist known as “the Plant Powered Dietitian” and author of The Plant Powered Diet and Plant Powered for Life
- Catherine Brown, plant-based chef and culinary nutritionist
- Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City
- Abbey Sharp, RD, dietitian in Canada
- Angie Asche, RD, registered dietitian, sports nutritionist, and personal trainer
- Whitney English, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist in Los Angeles
- Judith Scharman Draughon, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist