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