By Burchell Laidley, Bachelor Degree Candidate, Nutrition and Dietetics, New York Unive rsity
Reviewed by Jinan Banna, PhD, RD
A parent coordinator once taught me this formula: preparation meets opportunity, equals success. How prepared are we in the morning to have a healthy meal? We are constantly in a rush.
Hardly have time to prepare anything? Desire something to grab and go? Breakfast can become boring too, eating the same thing over and over. I know, as my family and I have the same experience.
With regards to diet, there is certainly one thing that will make our mornings worth looking forward to and ultimately help with disease prevention. If we can prep our meals (preparation) ahead of schedule, then we can grab them on the go (opportunity), thereby achieving our goals (success). Meal prep is the way to go.
What is meal prep?
Meal prepping is the idea of preparing one’s meals ahead of schedule. It’s popular amongst busy people because it tends to save a lot of time. Meal preparation allows you to develop a habit of determining what to eat ahead of time which will, in the long run, help you become successful in practicing a healthy lifestyle.
Meal prep can help as you are planning the vegan diet to be sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Do you want to know how to accomplish this ? Read on….. this article will show you how.
What is the vegan diet?
People are becoming health conscious and aware of the potential benefits of a plant-based diet. The vegan diet does not contain animal products. Vegans may choose this diet because they are aware of the potential benefits of focusing mostly on plant foods.
The vegan diet requires planning, since all animal products are to be removed. While animal products may contain high volumes of unhealthy (saturated) fats, they also contain important nutrients our body needs.
For example, eggs white and yolk are sources of protein and other vitamins and minerals. These nutrients can also be found in other sources like fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, including plant sources of protein. Planning is necessary to determine which plant-based foods to eat to get those nutrients found in animal products.
Certain nutrients may be lacking in the diet when you move from eating animal products to eating a vegan diet. Nutrients particularly of concern are:
- Vitamin B12, that is almost exclusively found in animal sourced foods, such as fish, meat, dairy products and eggs.
- Iron, which is found in plant-based foods but may not be as easy to absorb as iron found in meat. Vegans will need to plan carefully to be sure to get enough of these nutrients from food and products that are enriched or fortified.
According to Dr. Serena Tonstad and colleagues, the vegetarian diet may play an important role in promoting health and preventing obesity. It encompasses a spectrum of eating patterns, including the vegan diet.
Previous studies have indicated that the BMI increases when a wider spectrum of animal products are eaten. A plant-based diet aids with obesity prevention and therefore with the prevention of many chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
A vegan diet is generally rich in fiber. Many are not meeting the requirements for fiber in the diet. We need enough fiber to keep trim, have a healthy digestive tract and keep our blood cholesterol where it should be.
|12.||Brussels sprouts||(3.8 grams/100g)|
|15.||Split peas||(8.3 grams/100g)|
|20.||Chia seeds||(34.4 grams/100g)|
|21.||Sweet Potatoes(med)||(2.5 grams/100g)|
Here is a list of easy to prepare vegan breakfasts
The following are examples of vegan breakfasts that can be prepared the night before and kept safe in your freezer:
1. Banana Quinoa Breakfast Bars
It’s customary to have a banana in the morning, so let’s get creative with it. Bananas are primarily made up of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals – potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, folate, and choline.
Quinoa contains twice more protein and 5 grams more fiber than white rice. Quinoa fibers help to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. Check out this link for instructions on how to make these bars.
2. Grab and Go Banana Breakfast Cookies
This cookie has a combination of oats, chia seeds, and bananas. Oats are among the healthiest grains on earth and are a great source of vitamins,minerals, and fiber.
Chia seeds consist of a lot of nutrients like fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. Calcium is necessary for the growth of strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient and plays an important role in maintaining health. It may lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, improve blood sugar controls, and ease anxiety and depression.
Phosphorus is another mineral that mainly functions in the formation of bones and teeth. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.
3. Peanut Butter Green Smoothie Freezer Pack
Leafy greens like spinach and spirulina can be packed in plastic bags with slices of banana and other berries in small portions and stored in the freezer in six plastic bags for one of those mornings when you desire a smoothie.
Peanut butter has a good dose of protein and fiber, which will make you feel full for a long time, good for weight loss. Leafy greens also contain iron, potassium, calcium and fiber.
Cut up greens and place in plastic bags with sliced bananas, blueberries, raspberries, and peanut butter, and place in the freezer. In the morning, blend all in a portable blender. Pour yourself the desired amount.
Click here for the recipe.
4. Vegan Zucchini Bread
Apple sauce is used to substitute eggs for moisture and density. Zucchini is rich in many nutrients, such as protein, fiber, carbs, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, folate, copper, phosphorus, vitamin B6, and thiamine.
Tastes great and freezes very well. Whisk up a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and coconut oil, stored to spread on top when needed. Click here for the recipe.
5. Freezer Oatmeal Cups
This vegan meal couldn’t get easier. Cook oats pour into muffin tins and freeze until solid. In the morning just take one out. They will have a muffin shape, which is fantastic!!!! Microwave. Add your favorite milk and toppings and you have a grab and go breakfast. Click here for more.
6. Berry Beet Acai Bowl
Blended together with acai, beet, mixed berries, and coconut milk, it’s like a smoothie that can be eaten with a fork. For best results, mix it up the night before and store it in the fridge overnight, then add your favorite toppings like hemp seeds, berries, and coconut flakes are a great combination. Click here for the recipe.
Vitamin A is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.
Beets are a root vegetable and are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, such as folate (vitamin B9), manganese, iron, potassium, and vitamin C.
Coconut is high in manganese, rich in copper and iron, as well as selenium, an important antioxidant that protects our cells.
What is the role of the vegan nutritionist?
The vegan diet may provide all the nutrients needed to be healthy if we plan our meals ahead. A registered dietitian is the best health professional to consult regarding nutrition, and can help you make sure you will be getting all the nutrients you need upon switching to a vegan diet. If you are considering following a vegan diet, it may be helpful to locate a dietitian with a focus in this area.
Does the vegan diet provide all the necessary nutrients?
If you choose a vegan diet, you will need to make sure you are consuming all the required nutrients for optimal health. You will want to consider the macronutrients, which provide energy, as well as the micronutrients, as mentioned before. One of the macronutrients to consider is protein, which is important for muscle growth, etc.
Proteins are broken down by the body into amino acids.The body is unable to make nine of the amino acids, which are considered essential, meaning we must obtain them in the diet.
To prevent protein deficiency (generally not a problem in the U.S., but possibly a problem for the vegan depending on the diet), we should consider the source of the protein we consume. Most plant-based sources of protein do not contain all of the essential amino acids. However, all of the essential amino acids can be obtained by consuming a diverse set of plant-based foods.
While not necessary, some vegans may choose to consume protein powder, a quick and convenient way to increase one’s protein intake and obtain essential amino acids. Protein powder can potentially be used as part of on-the-go meals.
There are multiple protein powders on the market, but if you choose to purchase one, you’ll want to look out for potential toxins and other potentially undesirable ingredients such as a large amount of added sugar.
On the other hand, we must be careful not to consume excessive amounts of protein in the form of powder. Excess protein may be stored as fat if the body does not have a need for it.
Whole foods provide more than just protein, such as micronutrients and fiber. Foods that contain smaller amounts of protein can add up to meet your protein needs and provide other nutrients and phytochemicals. It is not necessary to include protein powder in the diet, but if you choose to do so, be mindful of the ingredients and the amount you are consuming.
The success of the vegan diet depends in part on meal preparation (meal prep). Prepping helps you to determine what to eat and so you will make the necessary adjustments to fulfill your dietary needs.
It’s always necessary to make sure that the right number of calories are consumed in the diet to prevent weight gain when planning your meals, of course. When preparation meets opportunity, success is inevitable.
Have questions? Comments? I would love to hear what you think below!