October 2022

Vegan Meal Plan for Beginners

What is a vegan diet?

The vegan diet is an eating plan that eliminates all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey.

People decide to adopt veganism for different reasons, such as ethical concerns or religious principles.

A vegan diet is a plant-based plan that excludes all animal products, like meat, fish, dairy and even honey. Its cousin, the vegetarian diet, is a bit broader and excludes meat and fish but includes dairy and eggs. Though the vegan diet has many health benefits, just because something is labeled “vegan” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great choice. For example, 2021 research published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that avoidance of animal-based foods was associated with a higher intake of ultra-processed foods—meat and dairy substitutes made from vegan and vegetarian sources. To reap the benefits of this eating lifestyle, focus on nutrient-dense whole foods—think beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains and of course, plenty of fruits and vegetables.

While some may worry about getting enough protein when not eating meat or other animal products, it is possible to get plenty of protein on a vegan diet. Try to incorporate protein foods, like peanut butter, beans, lentils, tofu, seitan and nuts, into most of your meals to stay satisfied in-between meals. If trying the vegan diet seems intimidating, consider the flexitarian diet by including a few meatless days a week to start and go from there.

Why Nutrition is Important for a Vegan Weight Loss Diet

The vegan diet itself is not a weight loss diet. Cutting out meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy is not the answer to losing body fat. However, if you have a weight loss goal but also ethically prefer to follow a plant-based vegan lifestyle, you can lose weight with some planning and preparation.

Research published in the journal Nutrition found that compared to other eating patterns, vegan diets can be very effective for weight loss and also for improving other aspects of your health.1

The key is to create a calorie deficit while meeting your nutrient needs. To lose weight, it is generally thought that you need to create a calorie deficit of between 250 and 500 calories per day. This can be accomplished using exercise, diet, or a combination of both.2

The vegan weight loss diet can be challenging because high-protein foods like those from animal proteins tend to be more satisfying and satiating than carbohydrates. Cutting out those foods, or swapping in some highly processed alternatives, could mean a less satisfying diet. If you feel hungry, restricted, or deprived, you’re more likely to sway from the plan which may delay you from reaching your goal.3

One way to improve your chances of enjoying your food and preventing hunger pangs shortly after eating is to find the right balance of fats, fiber, protein, and nutrients for you. Following a vegan weight loss meal plan like the one provided can help you do just that

Vegan shopping list:

A healthy vegan diet should contain a variety of whole grains, proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.

Foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, soy products, and nutritional yeast can all help boost your protein intake throughout the day.

Meanwhile, avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are nutritious, vegan-friendly choices for healthy fats.

Here is a sample vegan shopping list to help get you started.

Fresh produce

  • Vegetables: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, kale, onions, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kiwis, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, etc.

Frozen produce

  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, peas, vegetable medley, etc.
  • Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, cherries, mangoes, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries, etc.

Whole grains

  • barley
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur
  • farro
  • oats
  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • teff

Breads and pastas

  • brown rice pasta
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • sprouted bread, such as Ezekiel bread
  • brown rice wraps

Protein sources

  • Nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, etc.
  • Seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, etc.
  • Soy products: tempeh, tofu, etc.
  • Protein powders: pea protein powder, brown rice protein, hemp protein, etc.

Dairy alternatives

  • Milk substitutes: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, oat, rice, and soy milks, etc.
  • Yogurt substitutes: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, and soy yogurts, etc.
  • Vegan cheese: vegan parmesan cheese, shredded and sliced varieties, etc.

Egg alternatives

  • aquafaba
  • arrowroot powder
  • chia seeds
  • cornstarch
  • flax meal
  • prepackaged vegan egg substitute
  • silken tofu

Healthy fats

  • avocados
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil
  • flax oil
  • olive oil
  • unsweetened coconut
  • tahini

Snack foods

  • edamame
  • dark chocolate
  • dried fruit
  • fruit leather
  • hummus
  • nut butter
  • pita chips
  • popcorn
  • roasted chickpeas
  • seaweed crisps
  • trail mix


  • coconut sugar
  • dates
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • monk fruit
  • stevia

Spices and condiments

  • cayenne pepper
  • chili powder
  • cinnamon
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • ground ginger
  • nutritional yeast
  • paprika
  • pepper
  • Rosemary
  • thyme
  • turmeric

Note that many processed vegan products found at the store — such as vegan meat substitutes — are often loaded with sodium, fillers, additives, and other ingredients that may harm your health.

Try to stick to mostly whole, unprocessed foods — and steer clear of mock meats and other highly processed vegan ingredients and premade meals.


Here is a sample meal plan to inspire you for your first seven days. Remember you can add fresh herbs, spices, toasted seeds, fresh chili, lemon zest, or any other flavors you love to give these dishes some zing.


Breakfast: Oatmeal with fresh fruit
Lunch: Baked sweet potato with hummus and fresh vegetables
Dinner: Bean burger with salad


Breakfast: Half an avocado on wholegrain toast with tomatoes
Lunch: Garbanzo bean salad, loaded with green leaves, salad vegetables, and  lemon zest
Dinner: Roasted cauliflower with garlic and pine nuts, and drizzled in tahini sauce, served with a grain


Breakfast: Vegan apple pancakes with berries
Lunch : Mexican quinoa salad
Dinner : Shepherd’s pie, made with brown lentils and topped with sweet potato mash


Breakfast: Oatmeal with fresh fruit
Lunch: Three bean soup with wholegrain bread
Dinner: Falafel with tahini-lime sauce and fresh mixed salad


Breakfast: Smoothie, using up any fruits and vegetables you have, and a tablespoon of nut butter
Lunch: Wholewheat tortilla packed with mashed black beans (seasoned with cumin, salt, and lime) and arugula
Dinner: Lentil chilli with wholegrain rice


Breakfast: Peanut butter and banana on toast
Lunch: Miso soup with tofu and scallions
Dinner: Buddha Bowl—your choice of cooked and raw vegetables, tofu, and grains, with a spicy peanut sauce


Breakfast: Tofu scramble made with bell peppers, green onions, tomatoes, and herbs
Lunch: Tomato and red lentil soup
Dinner: Thai green curry with tofu and Asian vegetables

Instant Pot Brown Lentils Curry / Sabut Masoor Dal

This Lentils Curry is super easy to make & very flavorful. Instructions to cook LENTILS for salads & side are also included in notes.

 CourseMain Course, Side Dish


 KeywordBrown Lentils, Dal, instant pot vegetarian recipes, Lentils Curry

 Prep Time5 minutes

 Cook Time20 minutes




  • Measuring Spoons, Measuring Cups, Stirring Spoon,
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Instant Pot 6 quart or Mealthy Multipot
  • Inner Pot
  • Kitchen Spatula


  • 1 cup Brown Lentils whole, dry
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger finely chopped
  • 1 small Green Chili finely chopped (optional) skip to reduce heat. May use 1 jalapeno (de seeded and membranes removed) too.
  • 1 tbsp Cilantro / Coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1-2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Red Chili powder or Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala you can use 1/2 tsp to make it milder
  • 1 piece Black Cardamom optional (it adds smoky flavor to the lentils)
  • 1&1/2 tsp Salt or to taste

Dal Tempering (optional)

  • 1 tbsp Ghee or Cooking Oil (for vegans)
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Red Chili powder or Paprika skip it for mildly flavored dal


Always read the whole recipe first then start prepping. Gather the ingredients. ALWAYS READ THE NOTES for tips, storage, substitutes and more options.

  • First and foremost, wash the Whole Brown Lentils(dry) under running water 3-4 times. Set aside. Finely chop ginger, green chili & cilantro leaves and set aside.
  • Now put the Stainless Steel Inner Pot inside the Instant Pot and plug it in. 
  • Add washed washed Brown Lentils, Water, Turmeric powder, Red chili powder or Paprika, Garam Masala, Salt, Black Cardamom (optional), finely chopped ginger, & green chili. Give it a good stir. NOTE – You may add any seasoning of your choice at this point (see notes for more options). Or you can also choose to add 1 tbsp of good quality CURRY POWDER in case you want to avoid the list of spices mentioned.
  • Why Black Cardamom? – Although black cardamom is not commonly used in this recipe, but I love to add it because of its smoky flavor. It adds so much flavor and aroma to the lentil curry while cooking. You can skip it if you do not like it.
  • Place the lid and secure it. Set the valve to SEALING. Press the PRESSURE COOK BUTTON and set it on high for 14 minutes. Once the timer goes off, follow NPR (natural pressure release). This will yield nice thick, creamy & soft Dal.
  • If you do not want the dal to be very soft, then pressure cook for 12 minutes and follow QPR after 10 minutes. 
  • Open the lid. Give it a good stir with the Kitchen Cooking Spoon. Your Brown Lentil Curry or Sabut Masoor Dal is Ready. Add chopped Cilantro leaves & Squeeze about 1 -2 tsp of lemon juice on top and mix. Serve it hot.

TEMPERING (optional) – Adds so much flavor to the Dal

  • Heat 1 tbsp Ghee or Oil for Vegans in a small pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add 1 tsp Cumin seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add 1/4-1/2 tsp Red chili powder or Paprik to it and switch off the heat. Add this hot on top of the dal. You can skip red chili powder in case you want to keep it mild. Also if you do not want to make the tempering, just add 1 tbsp of Pure Ghee on top and mix.

Serving Suggestion

  • You can serve these with RICE or Naan/Pita with some cut salad on the side.


  • Follow the same recipe and ingredients above. Add all of the ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pan with 5 cups of water/broth. Bring it to a boil and simmer on low heat till the lentils are soft and cooked. It might take 25-30 minutes on stove top. If the water gets less, then add some more warm water and cook further.

Is it necessary to soak lentils before cooking?

Brown Lentils are easy to cook. Although you can choose to soak them for 10 minutes, but you can cook them without soaking too. 

What is the right ratio of water to Brown lentils? For how long should I cook Lentils in Instant Pot?

Since we are talking about the right ratio and time, then it can vary depending upon how you intend to use the lentils in your recipe. This does not apply to red lentils.

Instant Pot Lentils for Soups and Curries

The ratio  is 1:3, where 1 is for dry brown lentils and 3 is for water or broth. Remember, the lentils swell up and thicken as they sit longer.For more creamy & comforting texture that means slightly mushed lentils, you will cook it for 14 minutes with NPR (natural pressure release). This is our family favorite way of eating lentils.

Instant Pot Lentils for Salads

The ratio is 1:1.5 (1&half), where 1 is for dry lentils and 1.5 is for water or broth. You will cook it for 8 minutes and then do QPR (quick pressure release) for firm bite that is required for the salads.

Instant Pot Lentils as Side

The ratio is 1:2, where 1 is for dry lentils and 2 is for water or broth. You will cook it for 12 minutes and then do NPR (natural pressure release) for just the right bite that is soft and not mushy.

How can I flavor Brown Lentils?

Brown lentils have an amazing flavor profile that is meaty, tender and intense. You can use it in salads, soups, curries, and much more. Here are some flavoring options if you do not like Indian Curry or want more options.

  • Spice these up with Cajun seasoning. 
  • Italian seasoning works very well too.
  • You can add salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder & oregano.
  • Middle Eastern Spices will work very well with the lentils.
  • Tex Mex Taco seasoning will work wonders.
  • Salt, Pepper, & lemon juice with fresh herbs make a simple yet delicious addition.

Can I make it ahead of time?

That’s the beauty of lentils that you can make it ahead of time. These are great for MEAL PREPS and can add as a delicious side or a full meal in itself. 

How to store the leftovers?

The leftover lentils can easily be refrigerated. These will stay good for up to a week when stored in an air-tight container.

Can I freeze the cooked lentils?

Although I have never frozen the lentils, but most of the cooked beans & lentils can stay good when frozen for 6 months.

How do you eat the cooked lentils?

If you are making a dal or curry with the dry lentils, then you can serve these with RICE or Naan/Pita.When you prepare it as a soup, then a good loaf of bread and salad on the side is super.


Serving: 4people | Calories: 10kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3236mg | Potassium: 24mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg



300g mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sesame seeds


1. Cook the mushrooms in a saucepan for 8-10 minutes, then drain and rinse. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a different pan and cook the onion and garlic for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

2 Make the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, tomato paste, rice vinegar and maple syrup.

3. In a different bowl, mix the cornstarch and water. Add the mushrooms to the pan with the onion, stir, then add the sauce and cornstarch slurry.

4. When the sauce thickens, add the sesame seeds. Enjoy