Healthy Menu Ideas for Vegans, Vegetarians & Carnivores
Jill Tydell, MD, a family medicine physician with Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group - All Saints in Racine encourages everyone to eat healthy. While there are definitely health benefits to a vegan and vegetarian diet, you can be a healthy carnivore as well.
Because Vegans only eat foods derived from plants, their diets may be deficient in some essential nutrients that are easily found in animal products. If you choose to go Vegan, be sure to get enough vitamin D, B-12, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. You may also need to add iron and zinc to your diet. You can get them naturally from these 6 vegan super foods, but may also need to consider supplements:
- Dark leafy greens like kale
- Legumes like beans and lentils
- Berries of all kinds
- Nuts and seeds
- Bell peppers
- Quinoa, a grain available in most grocery stores
A poorly planned vegan diet can lack important nutrients. Here are some delicious vegan meal suggestions:
- Oatmeal with fresh fruit. Sweeten with agave syrup if desired.
- Whole grain toast with natural peanut butter and sliced strawberries on top.
- Vegan granola with almond milk.
- Kitcheri. Get the recipe.
- Sweet potato salad with kale stir-fry.
- Sweet and sour tofu stir-fry.
- Vegan falafel. Get the recipe.
- Black bean sliders topped with mango.
- Avocado pesto pasta.
View vegan diet recipes.
Vegetarians share many of the same concerns as Vegans. While both eat plant based foods, vegetarians often add eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. This makes it a little easier to get essential nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, and zinc into your diet from the foods you eat. Just because you’re not eating meat, doesn’t mean you can go crazy with butter and other whole fat dairy products. The Super 6 Vegan foods are Super 6 Vegetarian foods too. Adding a great variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy grains. and low fat dairy and oils are key.
Here are suggestions for balanced day of tasty Vegetarian eating:
- Egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms and bell peppers.
- Whole grain French toast with Grade A or B maple syrup.
- Tomato, cheese, basil and arugula panini.
- Spinach Salad with dried cherries, walnuts, endamame and olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing.
- Grilled cheese or veggie burger on whole grain bread with sliced avocado, shredded carrots, spinach and melted provolone cheese.
- Minestrone soup with fresh kale added for great nutrition
- Vegetable and brown rice stir-fry with peanut sauce.
- Pesto pizza with veggies and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Whole grain pasta with broccoli, artichoke and spinach, stir fried with olive oil, seasoned with lemon juice, black pepper and garlic.
View vegetarian diet recipes.
If you choose to eat meat, no need to hang your head in shame. Eating meat doesn’t mean you aren’t healthy, but you need to make smart choices. Here are six things to consider:
- Make it Lean. Push those fatty steaks that cover your plate aside and go for lean cuts of red meats. Trim away as much visible fat as you can. Include chicken, turkey, and low mercury seafood in your diet.
- A portion is 5-6 ounces a day. Organic meat, poultry and seafood is always a good choice.
- Bake, broil, steam or stir fry in healthy oils.
- Add whole grains like quinoa, millet, brown rice, and oats to your diet.
- Eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies daily.
- Throw in a few vegan and vegetarian meals each week.
Here are some suggestions for healthy meat eater’s diet for a day:
Try a vegan or vegetarian choice. It’s a great way to start the day.
- Grilled teriyaki salmon and brown rice. Get the recipe.
- Lemon and black pepper grilled chicken breast with spinach salad.
- Turkey meatballs over whole grain pasta and spinach and ricotta stuffed bell peppers. Get the recipe.
- Lemon and garlic crusted tilapia with cumin seasoned yellow lentils. Get the recipe.
- Steak sliders with chipotle hummus, spinach, bell pepper and sweet corn. Get the recipe.
- White bean chicken chili. Get the recipe.
View healthy carnivore recipes.
A Word About Wheat & Sugar
There’s a lot of evidence that suggest eating refined flour and white sugar is bad for our health. It might be good to avoid both as much as possible. Here are some things to consider:
When wheat is processed it strips away everything that is good for us. The nutritional value is gone. So stay away from white bread and pastas and consider using true whole wheat based products instead. Sprouted whole wheat breads are popping up in specialty stores. They are both delicious and nutritious.
There are two types of sugars, those that occur naturally in the foods we eat and added sugar. White, added sugar has no nutritional value and is the source of unneeded, empty calories, can be addictive, and lead to all sorts of health issues. Note that brown sugar and raw sugar is as unhealthy as white sugar. Avoid it whenever possible.