What Do I Eat?
Many people ask me what I eat in a day while eating a plant-based vegan diet and want to know what my typical day looks like in terms of food. The truth is, it’s always different but is pretty similar day-to-day. In short, I eat a plant-based diet which means I eat a lot of plants including fruits, leafy greens and vegetables (including starchy root veggies), whole grains, and smaller amounts of protein-rich legumes (lentils and peas) and seeds, such as chia and hemp seeds (see below for more).
What is vegan? What is a plant-based diet?
A vegan is someone who chooses not to eat animal products, including meat, fish, or poultry, and does not consume or use any animal by-products, such as dairy, eggs, gelatin, leather, wool, honey, fur, silk, and down. Vegans also do not use anything tested on animals or made with animal by-products, such as cosmetics or chemical cleaning products. A vegan diet means a person simply abides by not eating any animal products or animal byproducts.
I personally abide by a vegan lifestyle, not just a diet. I don’t buy or wear animal clothing items, use any lifestyle (cleaning products, cosmetics, or beauty products) with them, take supplements made with/from them, and avoid them as much as I can because it’s something that’s important to me. I also don’t eat animal products at all because ethically, it matters a great deal to me. Many people ask me if I miss eating meat, dairy, eggs, fish, etc., and the truth is, no, I truly don’t. I LOVE eating a plant-based diet and every single thing that I eat!
In fact, I love this way of living and it is honestly something I enjoy daily; I never feel deprived or like I’m missing something. Eating plant-based also keeps me healthy and helps me live according to my values. In fact, I’ve never felt so nourished before in my life, my blood sugar levels and insulin levels are better than they’ve ever been, and I think so much more clearly than I used to before. I love eating foods with so much color, life, nutrition, and abundance!
A plant-based diet not only focuses on eating vegan but also focusing on eating a more nutritious, wholesome diet comprised of whole plant foods. In short, it’s about eating real, earth-grown ingredients. This includes as many fruits and vegetables as desired, healthy starches such as sweet potatoes, squash, potatoes, and whole grains (oats, barley, quinoa, rye, brown and wild rice), and nutrient-dense legumes (lentils, peas, beans), nuts, and seeds. Highly processed foods and animal ingredients are not included.
Plant-based diets typically avoid all refined sugar and use natural sweeteners instead, and many people who eat plant-based also avoid all or all refined oils as well. This is not because it’s a restrictive diet, (it’s definitely not), but because it’s an approach that is more wholesome and nutritious because you’re simply eating real food. It also enhances the nutrient intake of the diet and decreases the risk for most types of major disease, simply by default.
Because of my background in nutrition and with health, I choose to eat not only a vegan diet but also a low-fat plant-based diet, which has been one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had that has helped me heal from a lifetime of digestive issues such as ulcers, chronic gastrointestinal inflammation, and bacterial gut-related infections. My skin, energy, and health have never been better, either despite the fact that it took me awhile to get here.
Why vegan? Vegans choose this lifestyle for varied reasons which include the animals, for our planet earth, for health, or for all three reasons.
I see it this way: our food can give life to us and others or it can take it away or greatly diminish it. I choose a way of living and eating that aligns with my values to eat a more compassionate, plant-focused diet that also keeps me feeling energized, calm, more aware, more compassionate, and makes me think twice about what I put in my body so I can nourish it how we were meant to do: with real, plant foods.
Plant-based diets have also been scientifically proven for decades to reverse and prevent heart disease, many types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. They’ve also been shown to treat Crohn’s disease, chronic inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), high cholesterol, depression, autoimmune disorders, lower the risks and symptoms of type 1 diabetes, and much more (See my Resources page for sources and links.).
Plant-based food production can also help save our planet! It requires dramatically less land and water than animal production does, can help eliminate the need for deforestation due to the fact that animal agriculture is the leading reason for it, it emits fewer greenhouse gases, and even conserves the world’s resources for future generations.
Like many people feel, being vegan and plant-based isn’t just about a diet or wearing a label to me; it is a commitment to embrace a cruelty-free lifestyle that benefits animals, the environment, and our health in a way that nothing else can. It gives me an incredible peace to know I am doing something good for my body, animals, and others along with Mother Earth by eating this way, not to mention it’s so darn easy and feels more natural than eating animals that were living, breathing creatures.
Eating a plant-based diet has also done wonders for my focus, energy, skin, and overall health, unsurprisingly. It has truly transformed me emotionally and physically in ways I never thought possible, especially regarding my relationship with–and my appreciation for–real whole food, my health, my body, animals, and the planet we are so blessed to be able to call our temporary home.
I focus on filling my kitchen with real plant foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, root veggies, and legumes like lentils and chickpeas, etc.). These foods are the ones that make me feel my best, so I simply choose to eat those and not to eat foods that don’t (animal products, high-fat foods, highly processed foods with chemicals and high levels of sodium, oil, refined sugar, or processed vegan foods like Oreos, vegan cheese, donuts, etc.). I am not a food snob, but I do love healthy food and have a sensitive body that feels best when I eat real, whole foods… so I just do! 🙂
Living plant-based is truly much more than about food to me; it’s also made me healthier than I’ve ever been. That’s a huge win all the way around if you ask me, not to mention it’s also affordable (see below).
Where I Shop and How I Budget:
There’s no truth to the myth that it’s hard to eat healthy and plant-based while maintaining a budget; I main a strict one every single week and still have a fridge, freezer, and pantry full of healthy, whole foods. I also clip coupons weekly, use savings apps, and I check store sales both in-store and online to save even more money. I simply prioritize buying and eating real food without chemicals, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Some of my staple foods are oats, wild rice, sweet potatoes, lots of frozen berries and other frozen fruits, frozen veggies, greens, fresh fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, and pineapple, protein and iron-rich lentils, chia and flax seeds for omega-3’s.
I normally buy plant-based (and organic) options at Target or Walmart each week, online at Vitacost or Amazon (where dry goods are normally much cheaper), and I love to shop for organic foods at Whole Foods if I can. Whole Foods’ 365 brand (naturally GMO-free and often organic) is often just as cheap as Walmart on many items, believe it or not. Trader Joe’s and Costco are also great places to save money on healthy, organic, whole foods. I personally love Target’s Simply Balanced line of fruits and vegetables (especially their frozen options) along with Walmart’s organic Great Value line. I also shop online for dry goods where I can often get better deals and discounts.
What You’ll Find in My Kitchen Most Days:
- Wild Blueberries (frozen)
- Tomatoes (Grape and Roma)*
- Cucumbers (English, seedless)*
- Mixed Berries* (frozen)
- Frozen dark cherries*
- Frozen tropical fruit blends
- Unsweetened, frozen acai packs (in stores and online)
- Pineapple (fresh and frozen)
- Medjool dates
- Goji berries
- Romaine Lettuce*
- Green leaf lettuce/Butter lettuce*
- Frozen collard greens/kale*
- Baby kale*
- Artichoke hearts (frozen, I find these at Whole Foods or Walmart)
- Red Bell Peppers*
- Frozen Cauliflower
- Winter Squash (butternut, acorn, kabocha)
- Turnips (for soup, sometimes)
- Pumpkin (canned, unsweetened, plain pumpkin)
- Sweet potatoes*
Note: All items marked with * tend to be extremely high in pesticides in conventional form, so I try at all times to buy these organic and would advise others to do the same as they can afford them. Please see the Dirty Dozen list for more info.
Healthy Fats (smaller amounts of these)
Note: I don’t eat a lot of nuts or avocados for digestive reasons, but they are incredibly healthy sources of fats used in moderation. I do make sure to eat several tablespoons of raw hemp, chia, and flax seeds daily for plant-based omega-3 fats, though. These seeds are also incredible sources of iron, protein, and magnesium not to mention great for the skin, hair, and nails.
- Rolled oats (gluten-free and regular) – my favorite whole grain!
- Hot Buckwheat Cereal (grain-free, but cooks like a grain and has similar nutrition to grains)
- Oat Bran
- Wild Rice
- Brown Rice
- Quinoa flakes
- Barley flakes
- Whole grain rye flakes
- Farro (ancient whole wheat that is easy to digest)
My Favorite Protein Sources:
- For my smoothies: Vega One Nutritional Shake – (Mocha and Chocolate are my favorite flavors.) – This is the only protein/nutritional product I will use because it’s made from whole foods and has no harmful additives or ingredients upset my digestion. I use Vega One in smoothies, shakes, and smoothie bowls.
- Chia seeds and hemp seeds (great sources of complete protein, magnesium, iron, and omega-3 fats!)
- Whole grains (Gluten-Free Organic Oats, Millet, Barley, Rye, Quinoa, Buckwheat)
- Red split lentils, other lentils, and chickpeas
- Vegetables and Greens (yes, they have protein!)
- applesauce or chopped apples
- No added sugar apple butter – or my homemade version!*
- 100% Just Fruit jam
- Medjool dates, figs, raisins, prunes
- Mashed banana
- Any fruit!
- NuNaturals Pure Stevia – in moderation in coffee, tea, baking, smoothies, etc.
- Vanilla bean powder
- Pure, organic maple syrup-in moderation in coffee, oatmeal, smoothies, desserts, baking, etc.
- Wholesome Raw Organic Turbinado Sugar (in moderation used in coffee, homemade sugar scrubs, baking, oatmeal, etc.)
- Blackstrap Molasses- Blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron, calcium, and potassium, so I use this sometimes in small amounts in baking or oatmeal for extra nutrition.
Whole Food Egg Alternatives:
*These will work well in (most) recipes, especially for baking muffins, cupcakes, pancakes, bread, etc.*
- Psyllium husk powder– 1 tbsp. psyllium + 1 tbsp. water = same as 1 egg
- Flax meal= 1 tbsp. flax and 3 tbsp. water = same as 1 egg
- Canned pumpkin or butternut squash (1/4 cup will replace 1 egg)
- Mashed bananas (1/4 cup will replace 1 egg)
- Nut butter -1 tbsp. = 1 egg
- Chia seeds – 1 egg = 1 tbsp. chia seeds and 3 tbsp. water = same as 1 egg
Note: You can always add 1/2 -1 tsp. baking powder and a touch of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to a recipe to make baked goods rise better, (just like egg whites do), too. The vinegar flavor cooks off and simply helps the recipe rise and bind together like eggs when combined with baking soda or baking powder.
- Simply Organic herbs and spices (cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, sage, pepper, cilantro, parsley, oregano)
- Frontier Naturals/Organic herbs and spices (all!)
- Apple cider vinegar (raw, with the Mother) – I also use this as a health tonic; it can also be used as a healthy salad dressing or to help baked goods rise without yeast and/or eggs
- Fresh ginger root
- Fresh herbs (sage, oregano, mint, parsley, and cilantro are my favorites)
- Fresh lemon and lime
- Vanilla bean powder
- Peppermint essential oil
- NuNaturals cocoa
- Raw organic cacao powder (also a great source of minerals, vitamins, and essential amino acids)
Miscellaneous: Beverages, Baking Items, Etc.
- light and unsweetened soy and almond milk (Silk brand which is my favorite to date)
- Coconut flour, oat flour (homemade), quinoa flour, and buckwheat flour for baking
- Herbal tea (varies)
- regular green tea
- Crio Brü roasted cocoa beans- This is one of my favorite products ever! It’s simply roasted cocoa beans (no sugar) that you brew just like you do/would coffee! You can also use it to make your own homemade cocoa. I use Crio Brü daily with my coffee and use a mixture of 1/2 Crio Brü and 1/2 coffee grounds before brewing to make my own homemade mocha. 🙂
- Puroast Organic Coffee (Low-Acid, High Antioxidant Coffee) or Folger’s Coffeehouse Blend
- Organic Matcha Green Tea
- Organic Yerba Maté tea
You can also see all my recipes here where I use many of my favorite kitchen items.
Got questions? Leave a comment below, or email me, I’d be happy to help!
*This page contains Amazon affiliate links to products I love, use, and recommend. Please see my disclosure policy for more.