What is a Plant-based Diet?
Plant-based eating can sometimes sound mysterious. Are you just eating piles of leaves and foraging for food in the woods? Are you supposed to eat green plants at every single meal? What’s off the table when preparing healthy, plant-based foods?
If you’re curious about plant-based diets, let me clear up the confusion.
Plant-based eating means you’re focusing on eating as many simple, whole, unprocessed foods as possible. The goal is to fill up on plant foods and avoid or limit animal-based foods, like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
You can get all of the necessary nutrition for a healthy diet while following a plant-based plan.
In fact, it’s a great way to improve your overall health, lose weight (or maintain a healthy weight), improve your blood pressure, and decrease your risk of chronic illnesses, like type 2 diabetes.
And not only can you improve your own health, you can improve the health of the planet too. Following a plant-based diet is a great way to minimize your carbon footprint, decrease greenhouse gases, improve soil quality, support local farmers, save the rainforest, and protect our oceans. It’s a simple way to protect the environment, one meal at a time.
Some plant-based diets follow stricter guidelines than others. They focus on eating whole food plant-based (WFPB) meals and choose oil-free and sugar-free ingredients.
Vegans do not eat any animal-based foods including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or honey. But other plant-based eaters leave a little more wiggle room in their meals.
No matter which plant-based diet you choose, the goal is to eat as many plant foods as possible.
Does a Plant-based Breakfast offer Enough Protein and Nutrients?
One of the biggest fears Americans have about starting a plant-based diet is whether they’ll get enough protein. Grocery stores are stocked with all sorts of protein bars, powders, shakes, and snacks promoting the power of protein. So it might seem like people just aren’t getting enough of it.
But according to the Mayo Clinic, most Americans are actually getting more than they should. In fact, they say most Americans get twice the recommended amount.
What does this extra protein do to your body? Well, it won’t make you look like a bodybuilder. Unless you’re working out consistently and lifting heavy weights. If you’re not hitting the gym, the extra protein gets stored as fat or used as energy. Consuming too much can take a toll on your kidneys or lead to heart disease. As they say, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
Appropriate intake of protein, though, is needed for healthy muscles, bones, and skin. And you can beef up your muscles without eating meat. The Mayo Clinic also says, “The healthiest protein options are plant sources, such as soy, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils or lean meats.”
Filling your plate with healthy, whole foods is a great way to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet.
What do you Eat for Breakfast on a Plant-based Diet?
Mornings can be hard. Maybe you spent the whole night tossing and turning. Or shushing a baby back to sleep. Or going over a list of tomorrow’s to-dos for the millionth time.
One of the best ways to shrug off the nighttime sleepies is to start the day with a super simple breakfast. You’ll be ready to power through a packed day of meetings, child-wrangling, or whatever wild things your day beholds. Your body will thank you for filling up with the good stuff.
If you’re new to the plant-based lifestyle, breakfast is a great place to begin. You may realize your favorite breakfast recipes are already plant-based. So if you eat oatmeal every morning or you love sugar-free smoothies, you might be consuming more plants than you realize. And that’s a great thing!
These ingredients can give you some inspiration for your morning meals:
Nuts and Seeds
Because breakfast can be whatever you want it to be, it’s okay to either grab a handful of trail mix on your way out the door or spend the morning cooking a whole sit-down meal.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to sleep in and hit snooze 5,000 times before starting your day, maybe a quick breakfast with simple ingredients is more your speed.
If that’s you, you can keep pre-portioned containers of mixed nuts or trail mix in your pantry so you can grab and go. It’s a great whole food, plant-based breakfast.
You can also mix some almonds or chia seeds into your smoothie as you race to work.
Or if you like to meal prep, you can make some chocolate chia pudding or overnight oats with flaxseed the night before. When you wake up, your breakfast is ready to go.
If you like to take your time in the morning and start the day with a full breakfast, try adding some pecans to your pancakes or walnuts on your waffles.
There are lots of ways to get veggies into your morning meals. You can throw some onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes into an omelet or tofu scramble. You can sneak some spinach or carrots into a smoothie. Or you can bake some peppers, onions, and zucchini into a potato casserole for a big ol’ family breakfast. Vegetables are also a great base for a gluten-free breakfast.
Fruits are always a great breakfast option. You can add some strawberry slices to your cereal, mix some raisins into your oatmeal, cut banana slices to go on your peanut butter toast, or blend some peaches into your smoothie.
Or you can make your own breakfast parfait with fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola. It’s like you’re starting your day with dessert. More days should start like that.
When it comes to eating whole grains, breakfast is the perfect time to fill up. Kicking off your day with a whole grain breakfast means your body is starting off with a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
If you’re on a gluten-free diet, you can find whole grain, GF breads at your local grocery store. They’re great for avocado toast, breakfast sandwiches with onions and peppers, and French toast with ripe bananas. Or you can power up with overnight oatmeal and fresh fruit. There are lots of oil-free and sugar-free options for a plant-based breakfast.
Plant milk is a funny concept. You can’t milk an almond or cashew the same way you milk a cow. Although, I’d like to see someone try.
There are lots of plant milk options though. So whether you’re lactose-intolerant, following a plant-based diet, or hoping to help the planet by avoiding milk, you can find a dairy-free alternative to meet your needs and satisfy your taste buds.
Soy milk: It’s one of the most popular types of plant-based milk. It has the same protein content as regular milk, which makes it appealing. However, recent studies suggest excessive soy consumption can affect fertility, so keep that in mind.
Oat milk: This up-and-coming plant-based milk is gaining popularity. It doesn’t have quite the same amount of protein as regular or soy milk, but it’s still higher than most other plant milks. It contains B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and other essential nutrients. And it’s creamy and delicious. It’s my favorite plant-based alternative. And my kids love chocolate oat milk.
Coconut milk: This is a sweet and creamy alternative to regular milk. It contains lots of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it has a high fat content, and most of the fat comes from saturated fat.
Almond milk: Almond milk is another popular milk alternative. It’s high in vitamin E and zinc. If you’re drinking plant milk for environmental reasons, you should probably know that almond milk isn’t so great for the planet. It requires excessive amounts of water to produce it, so you might want to pick a more sustainable alternative instead.
Beans for breakfast? Absolutely! They’re a great source of protein that will keep you full all morning long. Add some black beans to your tasty breakfast burrito or toss them into a veggie-packed egg casserole. They’re a delicious ingredient in any savory recipe.
Potatoes are such a versatile food. Sweet potato pancakes can satisfy your sweet tooth. And hashbrowns are perfect for a savory, breakfast hash. They’re full of nutrients like vitamin C, B6, and potassium. There are lots of ways to incorporate tubers into a healthy, vegan breakfast with fresh ingredients.
10 Plant-based Breakfast Ideas
There are tons of great recipes for plant-based breakfasts. Baked oatmeal, green smoothies, whole grain cereal, egg scrambles, warm waffles, apple cinnamon pancakes, fruity muffins…okay, are you drooling yet?
Whether you start the day with a big bowl of baked oatmeal or an easy-to-make fruit smoothie, you’re fueling your body with essential vitamins to get you moving in the right direction.
Here are 10 simple, plant-based breakfast ideas to help you start the day on the right foot.
- Neat Blueberry Crumb Muffins
- Kaffree Roma Smoothie Bowl
- Neat French Toast
- Loma Linda Vegan Chorizo Country Fries
- Neat Vegan Pancakes
- Vegan Doughnuts
- Loma Linda Chorizo and Broccoli Frittata
- Perfect Avocado Toast with Kaffree Roma Vinaigrette
- Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie with Kaffree Roma
- Kaffree Roma Nutty Banana Smoothie