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Plant Based Diet: An Epic Starter Guide
(with easy recipes)

Eating a plant based diet is one of the best ways to help yourself and help the planet. 

Here is a starter guide on what to eat, how to transition, how to lose weight.

Plus easy breakfast and healthy pizza recipes.

For convenience, this post contains affiliate links to products that can be difficult to find. If you click through and make a purchase I will earn a small commission. This is free of charge for you.

This article is part of my book 

Plant Based Diet, A Complete Starter Guide with Easy Recipes

Available on Amazon

Or free to download for my newsletter subscribers  

So, what do you eat on a plant based diet?

Plant-based means food that comes from plants and not animals. 

Here is an infogaphic showing what to eat lots of, what to eat in moderation, and what to avoid on a plant based diet.

What to eat on a plant based diet
What to eat in moderation
What to avoid eating on a plant based diet

The idea of a plant based diet is that foods should be eaten as close to their natural state as possible. That is why the second category of lightly processed foods should be eaten in moderation.

The full name for this diet is actually, “whole foods plant based diet” (WFPBD) – but that is er… quite a mouthful!

In practice:

Eating plant based doesn’t mean eating nothing but kale and broccoli. The body needs starches for sustained energy! So think dishes like bean enchiladas, pesto pasta, sweet potato lasagne, and chickpea pot pie. Yum! 
 

Also, remember ultimately you’re in charge of what you’re eating. You decide. Don’t follow any diet blindly (or any system, or any guru, for that matter). 

Ask your body what it needs and take a moment to listen. Here is how to do that:
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How to tune in to what your body actually needs

It requires a certain stillness to tune in. Take a moment to close your eyes, sit with your back a little bit straighter, and take a deep breath. 

Become aware of how you feel in your body right now. How hungry or full are you right now? How thirsty? Do you feel energy running through your body or do you feel sluggish? 

Then ask you body to tell you what to eat. Ask a specific question, such as, what food do you need right now? What do you need more of? What should I cut down on?

Ask one question at a time and see what ideas and images spontaneously come up in your mind. Don’t judge or latch on to any ideas, just observe what comes up.

You can also run specific ideas by your body by visualising various foods in your mind and seeing how your body responds. 

 

It is surprisingly easy to recognise your body’s signs of what it needs. 

You may think your body will tell you to eat only chips and ice cream but this is just an initial, superficial layer of what the ego-mind desires. Underneath, the body has its own wisdom and naturally leans towards the healthy foods it actually needs. 

Further resources:

The MIR (Mental and Intuitive Reset) Method is a very simple and very effective method that activates the self-healing powers of your body. It’s free and only needs 5 minutes of your time every day. You can see more here
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Why is a plant based diet so good for you (and the planet)?

Benefit #1: High in everything you need, low in everything you don’t

A plant-based diet is low in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, high in good carbohydrates, and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  

Benefit #2: Sustained energy levels
Benefit #3: Excellent for digestion

Due to healthy fibre plus healthy gut microbiota.

Benefit #4: Clear glowing skin, strong nails, shiny hair

Due to all the vitamins and minerals in the fruit and veg.

Benefit #5: Strong health

A plant based diet prevents, halts or even reverses diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and cancers such as colon and breast cancer.

This is in stark contrast to the standard Western diet of meat, dairy, and processed foods. This study puts processed meats in Group 1 Carcinogens, just like asbestos and tobacco. It also concludes that red meat is probably carcinogenic to humans. 

On a more subtle energetic level, a plant based diet is good for clarity of mind and meditation. It provides harmony with Mother Nature, eating what she naturally provides as food. You’re not taking more than your fair share (the impact of beef per calorie requires 160 times more land and produces 11 times more greenhouse gases compared to potatoes, wheat, and rice) and not perverting nature by processing all life out of what was once nutritious and edible. 

Benefit #6: Reduces climate change

Meat and dairy companies are on track to be the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, outpacing even the fossil fuel industry. 

During the Australian bush fires which devastated the country in 2019 we all asked ourselves what we could do to help. And not eating meat is one of the most effective ways to help our planet long term. 
 
Benefit #7: Compassionate and kind 

When you eat plant based you’re no longer condoning and taking part in modern day meat production which is unspeakably cruel. (Did you know that baby chicks are ground alive, simply as a by-product of the egg industry? I will not link to that here but you can look it up on Youtube). 

You probably think of yourself as a kind and thoughtful person and eating plant based means exactly that. Being kind, compassionate, aware of what suffering animals go through to feed us and what cost Mother Earth is paying. Just by spending a little extra time choosing what we eat we can avoid an entire global industry of torture, harm, and ecological destruction. 
 
Benefit #8: Free from health scares

You no longer have to worry about putting disgusting things like pink slime into your mouth or infecting your body with listeria

Benefit #9: Lose weight 
A plant based diet also makes it easier to lose weight (and keep it off). Participants in various trials lost nearly twice as much weight: 5.23 kg compared to 2.83 kg on other diets. More on that below.
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How do you transition to a plant based diet?

Eat your favourites

If you want to do your bit for the planet and your health but find it hard to transition then start by eating plant based versions of your favourite staples such as lasagnestews, pizza, pasta, or burgers. 

Yes, really. 

In fact there are whole cookbooks just for Vegan Burgers and Burritos. (This one is exceptional.) 
 
Crave meat?

Then how about a book packed with recipes that taste like meat? You can veganize all your favourites.

If you just want to buy a burger that is really tasty as well as really healthy try this one.
 
A good trick
Another good “trick” to ease the transition is to have a big vegan salad or bowl of veggie soup before your normal main meal. The idea is that you fill up with healthy stuff before eating your normal less healthy food 🙂 Hey, it works.  
 
You will find that your taste buds adjust over time and any cravings for chicken wings and beef burgers actually go away. 
(I now literally crave fresh raw foods like salads and am in love with the taste of vegetables.)
Or start with one day a week – how about Meatless Mondays or Plant Based Tuesdays? Ease yourself into a healthier habit. 
 
80/20
Eating 80% healthy is good enough, certainly in the beginning!
 
Shift in focus

Rather than focusing on eating less meat (and less cheese and less cake…) focus on eating more fruit, more vegetables. Anything that you love like  

  • more raspberries,
  • more artichoke hearts,
  • more roasted red peppers,
  • more black olives, 
  • more sweet potatoes,
  • more creamed spinach,
  • more asparagus,
  • more pumpkin soup,
  • more butternut squash, 
  • more dhal…

Yum! (Or is that just me?)

Remember, change is not all or nothing. Small changes are good, they add up and build a new habit.  

Need more convenience?

Have fresh healthy food delivered to your doorstep, so all you have to do is heat it and eat it! 

Here are some top choices to try: 

US

Fresh Meal Plan


 

and

MamaSezz 

 

 

Go for progress, not perfection

Concentrate on eating less meat rather than no meat (or less processed food or whatever your specific archilles heel is. For me, it’s sugar!). 

And if you fall off the band wagon know that this happens to all of us. (It definitely happens to me). The important thing is simply to get back on. Yesterday you fell off the wagon, it doesn’t matter – today is a new day and you’re back on! 

Remind yourself of the benefits and why you want to make this change. And if you’re trying to do too much too soon scale back and take smaller baby steps. Always tune in with your body and ask what it needs. Don’t follow a system, follow… erm… your gut! 

meditation retreats

Can you lose weight on a plant based diet?

Yes, plant based eaters generally have a lower BMI (body mass index) than meat eaters and participants in various trials lost nearly twice as much weight (5.23 kg compared to 2.83 kg on other diets).
 
Everything that is highly recommended on a plant based diet (fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes) is very low in calories. At the same time those foods are very high in nutrients and their fiber and water will fill you up. Win!
 
There is no need to calorie count, you can have as much fresh vegetables, whole grains, whole fruit, and legumes as you like. 
 
Check out this fantastic resource that will help you lose weight as well as heal your body.

Or try a fresh tailored weight loss plan delivered to your doorstep every week:

This study shows that a vegan diet can result in greater weight loss over other diets. This is because the vegan participants cut out oil.

The key to weight loss on a plant based diet: no refined oil

Oil is a highly processed food, it does not naturally occur in nature. It also has the most calories (by volume): a cup of oil has almost 2000 calories which is your entire recommended daily intake if you’re a woman! 
 
At the same time those calories are largely “empty”, because all the good stuff (like the fiber, most of the vitamins, phytonutrients) are stripped from the plant when making oil.
 
So cutting down on refined oil will help your health and help you lose weight.
 
But how?
blocking glasses top choice

How to cook without oil?

Here is how to sauté without oil

Oil is normally added for two reasons: to bring out the flavour and prevent sticking. But this can both easily be achieved without oil:
 

Start with a medium to hot, non-stick and non-toxic pan or skillet. (Non-stick doesn’t necessarily mean non-toxic).

Add vegetables like onions, peppers, carrot. These have a good amount of water content and will do well in a dry pan. Stir gently all the time but let them brown a little bit – this is what actually brings out the flavour. 

Then add a tablespoon full of water or vegetable broth to prevent sticking. You want the water to evaporate pretty quickly. This is called a water sauté (honestly, it’s a real thing) and is great for flavour. Add more water or vegetable broth as needed but only a tablespoon full at a time.  

Now add other vegetable with less water content like broccoli and garlic on top of your first layer so they don’t burn.
 

This is a great way of bringing out the flavour, prevent sticking, and preserve the nutrients as far as cooking allows. 

Adding tomatoes instead of water is another great alternative. Tomatoes are actually one of those rare foods that are better for you cooked than raw

Other ways of cooking without oil

Alternatively, you can also start by poaching your veggies (i.e. simmer in a small amount of water without needing to stir a lot). That way you can add any vegetables that take longer to cook from the start without having to worry about burning them. Once all the water has evaporated you can grill your veggies (optional). The browning will bring out more flavour.
 
pressure cooker is another way of cooking without oil.
 

(I used to think pressure cookers were for grandmas but this one is super high tec, being also a rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and warmer. And yes, you can sauté without oil in it as well.)

French Fries without oil

How to make French Fries without oil

I learned this trick of making potato fries without oil from Vegan Burgers and Burritos:
 

Mix your seasoning of choice (e.g. smoked paprika, onion salt, black pepper, garlic powder) with some of the liquid from a can of chickpeas. This makes the seasoning stick to the fries in a thick coat without the need for oil. You can then bake them. 

Or sauté the fries in your seasoning with a little chickpea liquid and by the time the liquid has evaporated the fries will be crispy and thickly coated.

Voila, delicious healthy fries without oil at all.

So next time you open a can of chickpeas reserve the liquid. You can also freeze it in ice cube containers to use later in small quantities.

oil free salad dressings

How to dress a salad without oil? 

Here are 3 tasty oil-free dressings:

Oil-Free Salad Dressing:

Mix 2 parts of vinegar with 1 part mustard and 1 part maple syrup. Season with salt, pepper, herbs (thyme, dill, basil…) to taste.

OR

Mix 2 parts of vinegar with 1 part mustard and 1 part nutritional yeast. Season to taste.

OR

Mix 2 parts orange juice with 1 part lemon juice and one part chia, hemp, or ground flaxseeds. You’ll find the seeds bind the dressing.

You can also experiment with a mixture of the various ingredients above. Other fruit juices (like grape or apple), sesame, ginger, tahini, apple purée or a more exotic fig purée are all great ingredients for a dressing.  

So, is a plant based diet the same as vegan?

In practice, yes. There can technically be differences like vegans might not wear leather, silk, or fur. A plant based diet is really just about the food. 

It’s very health driven and a more modern term than “vegan” with more positive connotations. But really, these two are pretty much the same in terms of what you eat.  

You could argue that chips or processed white bread like baguettes are technically vegan but wouldn’t be allowed on a plant based diet, because they aren’t healthy. 

A plant based diet has no refined grains, sugars or oils. (Not officially, at least – remember progress is more important than perfection.) 

The full name is actually, “whole foods plant based diet” (WFPBD). The idea is that foods should be eaten as close to their natural state as possible. So a WFPBD is even healthier than a vegan one. 

Is plant based diet vegan or vegetarian?

It’s vegan. Vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish, but dairy and eggs are allowed. Vegan and plant based diets on the other hand do not include any animal products, i.e. no meat, fish, eggs, dairy or honey. 
 
But there’s no official definition so everyone’s interpretation is a bit different. Some people do include eggs in their plant based diet, for example.
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What can you eat for breakfast on a plant based diet?

Lots!
I’m a simple cook so here are some simple recipes:
Buckwheat banana pancake

Pancakes

What’s in it?

  • Unsweetened nutmilk of your choice (soy or almond work well)
  • Buckwheat flour or oat flour
  • Fruit of your choice: e.g. mashed banana, apple slices, or lemon juice all work well
  • Maple syrup

Optional: Cinnamon, fruit compote

A non-stick (and non-toxic) pan won’t need greasing. If using a sticky pan use a little bit of oil.

Note, non-stick doesn’t necessarily mean non-toxic.

How do you make it?

Mix nutmilk and flour to make the batter. 

I find that buckwheat is really filling and I don’t need to eat again for hours! But oat flour gives extra fluffiness – so that’s s tough choice! 

Either way, fold mashed bananas or apple slices or lemon juice into the dough and cook slowly on a low heat. 

Top with maple syrup, fruit compote – or both 😉

Here is a great list of more vegan toppings

Health Info:

Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and does not contain gluten. It’s highly nutritious and contains more antioxidants and minerals than most grains.

Wholewheat flour is fine too but we tend to eat too much wheat so it’s best to mix it up a little!

rolled oats porridge

Porridge/Oatmeal

What’s in it?

  • Water or unsweetened nutmilk (such as almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, or chocolatey flax milk for an extra treat)
  • Rolled oats
  • Raisins or maple syrup

Optional toppings: Fresh fruit or fruit compote, nuts, seed, soy cream. 

How do you make it?

Cook oats slowly in water or your choice of nutmilk on a low heat, stirring frequently.

Top with fruit like apple or berry compote, raisins or maple syrup, coconut milk or soy cream (both of which are very rich and creamy).

Here is a Hot Chocolate” Banana-Nut Oatmeal that is incredibly good. 

Health Info:

Oats come in different forms. Good news is, they are all healthy.

Rolled oats are the whole grain with a smooth texture – the best of both worlds. Steel-cut oats are even healthier but need to cook longer and are chewier (not my favourite…)

Try to avoid Instant Oats which are the most processed.  

breakfast polenta

Polenta

What’s in it?

  • Cornmeal (coarse flour from corn, not the same as cornflower)

Or

  • Store-bought polenta
  • Raisins or maple syrup

Optional: Fresh fruit or fruit compote, nuts, seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame…)

How do you make it?

Stir the cornmeal into boiling water, a little at a time. Add a pinch of salt and keep stirring and boiling for about 30 minutes. 

Or simply pour boiling water into a bowl of shop-bought polenta, it cooks instantly.

Sweeten with raisins, maple syrup or agave nectar. Top off with fresh fruit, nuts or seeds. Absolutely delish.    

brown rice pudding

Brown Rice Pudding

What’s in it?

  • Brown cooked rice
  • Nutmilk of your choice
  • Raisins or maple syrup or other natural sweetener (agave syrup, prunes, dates…)

Optional: Cinnamon 

How do you make it?

Brown rice takes ages to cook but keeps well so cook more than you need the night before and then gently heat the leftovers in the morning with some almond (or other nut) milk, raisins, and apple slices.

chickpea omelet

Chickpea omelet (egg-free)

What’s in it?

  • Chickpea flour
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Water
  • Fresh vegetables: choose from mushrooms, peppers, onion, zucchini/courgettes, tomatoes, spinach 
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, garlic powder  

Optional toppings: Sliced tomatoes, olives, mashed avocado

A non-stick pan won’t need greasing. If using a sticky pan use a little bit of oil.

How do you make it?

Chickpea flour and nutritional yeast make a very good egg-free omelet!

Cut your vegetables into small pieces so they cook quickly. 

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, add as much water as needed to make the batter smooth (pour-able but not runny).

Pour into a pan (like making pancakes). 

When one side is cooked flip your omelet – woohoo! – and cook the other side until lightly browned.   

vegan avocado toast

Avocado toast

What’s in it?

  • 1-2 slices of wholegrain bread
  • 1 avocado
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, soy sauce, seeds  

Optional: Tomato sauce

  • a tube of tomato paste
  • a little vegetable stock
  • a little brown sugar (to take away the acidity of the tomatoes and bring out their taste)
  • seasoning to taste (e.g. oregano, thyme, basil, garlic powder, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, chilli flakes, salt, pepper…)

How do you make it?

Toast your slices of bread. Scoop out the flesh of your avocado, mash with a fork, and spread on your toast. Sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice. I like it simply with a little soy sauce. 

Slices of fresh tomatoes or a tomato sauce also makes an excellent topping: 

just blitz all the ingredients for the sauce together and spread on your avocado mash.

vegan yogurt 2

Homemade vegan “yogurt”

What’s in it?

  • Tofu
  • 2 peaches (fresh or frozen)
  • Cashew nuts 

How do you make it?

Not real yogurt but tastes really creamy and delicious.

And yes it has tofu but I promise you won’t taste it.

Super quick and easy to do: Blend one pack of tofu with slices from two peaches and handful of cashews nuts until really smooth. Cool in the fridge overnight for a thicker consistency.

(Courtesy of Pinch of Yum)

Enjoy your vegan yogurt on its own or with:

Need more convenience?

Here are quick links to all the ingredients in the above recipes that might be more unusual or harder to find:

Can you eat bread on a plant based diet?

Yes, you can eat certain types of bread on a plant based diet as long as it is made from whole grain, but preferably in moderation, because bread is a processed food.

What is the best bread for a plant based diet?

If you’re currently eating a lot of white bread switch to wholegrain brown bread

Wholegrain means you’re getting all the goodness of the vitamins and fibre from the bran. 

The greater the variety of grains (not just wholewheat) the better: Mix it up between barley, speltflaxoat, rye, flax and chia breads, as well as different types of bread like wholemeal pita, sourdough, and even veggie tortillas. Variety is key. 

If you can find it Ezekiel sprouted grain bread is among the healthiest bread you can eat. 

Don’t be fooled by labels such as “multigrain, “100% wheat”, “bran” etc. These are ways to gloss over the fact that these breads (or pastas etc) are not wholegrain and therefore not as wholesome and healthy. Make sure it actually says wholegrain on the packaging. 

And even though wholegrain breads are top of class for breads, longer term it’s actually recommended to start cutting down with a view to almost cutting bread out of your diet altogether. 

I know, that’s hard! If you’re like me you crave bread. But really, there are very few health benefits in bread that you can’t get in a better way elsewhere. 

But remember it’s not all or nothing, it’s a process. I have been able to observe tremendous health benefits from cutting down on wheat – far less swelling of my tummy, and much reduced inflammation everywhere in my body. 

Even so, although my body doesn’t like it my mind still craves it… So I have not been able to cut out bread altogether. But cutting down has given me a clear picture of what wheat does to my body which I was truly unaware of before. Progress – not perfection – in action. 

no eggs on plant based diet

Can you eat eggs on a plant based diet?

Strictly speaking no, animal products are not part of a plant based diet so eggs are not included. Here is a great article on Egg Substitutes in Cooking and Baking 
 
However, remember to make your plant based diet your own. If you find yourself thinking, “there’s nothing to eat” and it helps you cut down on other more harmful foods like meat then have organic eggs from free range hens while you transition.
 
If you do eat non-vegan food like eggs, milk or honey (or processed foods like oil, pasta, breads) always go for the best quality you can afford, meaning the most natural and organic.
 
Over time you will discover more and more delicious foods that fully comply with a whole food plant based diet. 

Can you eat cheese on a plant based diet?

Strictly speaking no, animal products are not part of a plant based diet. So no cheese, milk, and other dairy products. Fortunately, there is a huge variety of delicious alternatives. 
 
Here is a parmesan substitute that is so quick and easy:
Parmesan substitute

Parmesan substitute

What’s in it?

  • Raw cashew nuts (“raw” simply means not salted or roasted)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Nutritional yeast 

How do you make it?

Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor et voila, you have a tasty vegan parmesan alternative. Put in a jar and it lasts very well when refrigerated.

Or, here is a store bought substitute from an online vegan supermarket that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
 
And then there is this very easy recipe for the best I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-cheese dip-slash-sauce:
best cheesy no-cheese dip

Best plant based no-cheese dip ever

What’s in it?

Optional: a clove of garlic or garlic powder, onion powder, pepper to taste

How do you make it?

Blend all the ingredients for several minutes (yes, like 6 minutes – or use the soup setting on your blender). Aaaand… done! 

It lasts up to a week in the fridge – except it won’t, because it’s too good! Courtesy of Life’s No Yoke which also gives exact quantities and a video to follow along.

More into buying than making? Here are some great cheese alternatives by Violife that taste and cook just like cheese.

Can you drink milk on plant based diet?

Strictly speaking no, animal products are not part of a plant based diet. So no milk or other dairy products.
 
Milk in particular is associated with an increased risk of Parkinson disease. Opinions are divided on whether milk actually benefits your health or not.
 
However, there are many alternatives readily available: oat milk  almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, coconut milk… The latter is a great alternative to cream in your coffee because it’s so rich. Also works great over your morning oatmeal (if you’ve cooked it in water) to make it smoother and creamier. 

Can yogurt be plant based?

Surprisingly, yes: since yogurt is ordinarily made from milk it can equally be made from nut milk. There are many vegan dairy-free yogurts available. 
 
And even better, you can easily make your own vegan yogurt with just two ingredients:
plant based yogurt

Plant based yogurt

What’s in it?

I always have these capsules around. You might have them too – a strong immune system and overall health starts in the gut! 

How do you make it?

Pour a can of full fat coconut milk into a (super clean!) glass bowl and stir in the contents from two high strength probiotic capsules. Cover with a kitchen towel (thin enough to let air through) and leave out in a warm spot.
 
After about 24-48 hours (depending on the ambient temperature) put in the fridge overnight and next morning you will have thick, creamy, gut healthy yogurt!
 
(Read more tips and tricks for homemade vegan yogurt) 
no sugar graphic

White sugar substitutes for a plant based diet


Refined white sugar is highly processed and not good for you. It’s actually an addictive substance. Which is why it’s so hard to replace  – I know, I have a very sweet tooth! But I have found the following to be workable alternatives:

or if all those fail you,

Healthy Chocolate

Yes, there is such a thing. 

In fact, there are plenty of vegan treats. As a super easy option that really hits the spot I let myself have one or two pieces of high quality chocolate

Here is a great vegan, paleo, gluten-free, non-GMO, and kosher chocolate. (How can something that is free from dairy, palm oil, emulsifiers, soy lecithin, gluten, refined sugar, cane sugar and sugar alcohols taste so good?) 

Here is another one that tastes more like milk chocolate but is dairy free (and even cane sugar free too).
Vegan Chocolate Desert

Vegan Chocolate Desert

What’s in it?

  • 1 package of tofu
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar

How do you make it?

Simply blend all the ingredients until smooth and then refrigerate until chilled.

Can you eat pizza on a plant based diet?

Yes, but store bought pizzas or fast food ones should be avoided.
 
I know… they taste so good, right? But honestly, they are unhealthy and fattening, because they’re very high in calories, unhealthy fats, carbs and salt, contain preservatives and very little fibre. 
 
But go vegan and whole food with your pizza and enjoy guilt free! Here is how:

How to make heathy pizza from scratch

Pizza Crust

The healthiest option is a pizza crust made from vegetables – so tasty and so good for you. You can use eggplants/aubergine, courgette/zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, or lentils to make the crust.

Using sweet potatoes is easiest:

Vegan Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

What’s in it?

  • 2 large or 3 medium sized sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed 
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Optional: herbs to taste, such as oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes

How do you make it? 

Mix all the ingredients and then knead until you have a ball the consistency of pizza dough. 
 
Dust your rolling pin (or if you don’t have one use a bottle) with flour and roll your dough out to make a flat round base, about half an inch / 1cm thick. 
 
Line a baking tray with parchment paper and bake your crust for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 200 degrees Celsius, until the edges are slightly brown.  
 

If you don’t fancy a vegetable crust but want a more traditional base instead you can find a great wholewheat recipe here.

Either way, make the tomatoes sauce while your crust bakes in the oven:

tomatoe sauce for pizza

Tomatoes Sauce

What’s in it?

  • a can or tube of tomato paste
  • a little vegetable stock
  • a little brown sugar (to take away the acidity of the tomatoes and bring out their taste)
  • seasoning to taste (oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper…)

How do you make it? 

Just stir all ingredients together (or blitz in a blender). No need to cook as the baking will take care of that.
 
Take your crust out the oven, turn it over and spread your sauce on top (of what was the underside).  
Then load with vegetable toppings of your choice.
 
Here are some ideas:
Mushrooms, onions, pineapple (fresh or frozen), olives, garlic, spinach, kale, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, halved cherry tomatoes, zucchini/courgettes…
 
If you quickly sauté the vegetables before putting them on your crust your pizza will taste even better. (In that case you can also add broccoli, carrots, aubergine/eggplant…)
 
Now put your pizza back in the oven for another 15 minutes or until your vegetables are cooked.
 
Finish your masterpiece with lashings of this super quick vegan parmesan substitute: 
Parmesan substitute

Vegan Parmesan Substitute

What’s in it?

  • 1 cup of raw cashews (raw meaning not salted or roasted)
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

Optional: garlic powder

How do you make it? 

Simply blitz all the ingredients in a food processor then sprinkle liberally over your pizza masterpiece.

Want more? There is a whole cookbook dedicated to just pizzas for a plant based diet!

Make a plant-based, healthy pizza with store-bought ingredients

Pizza Crust

Go for a pizza base made from wholewheat flour. (Or non-Amazon here if you’re in the US. And here if you’re in the UK.)
 
Eating wholegrain means you get all the vitamins and fibre from the bran and that makes it good for you.

Top with a healthy tomatoes sauce: 

Most store-bought tomatoes sauces are vegan but read the label to avoid high sugar (labeled as carbs) and/or high salt content (labeled as sodium). This one is low in sugar and salt and very tasty

Then heaps of vegetables. Plus of course cheese on top: 

Cheese

These are great vegan cheese alternatives that cook just like cheese.

Whether you make your pizza from scratch or buy healthy ingredients, either way you will end up with a pizza that is delicious and good for you! Result! 

Can you eat pasta on a plant based diet?

Yes absolutely, as long as it’s made from wholegrain (and without eggs). 
 

Variety is king so switch it up between wholegrain wheat and whole barley, rye, milletbuckwheat… 

(Buckwheat by the way is not at all related to wheat – it’s gluten free and contains more antioxidants and minerals than most grains. Or in other words it’s really good for you.)
 
Pasta has a bad rep because white refined pasta is heavily processed which destroys the nutrients. It also strips away the fiber which causes sugar spikes and slumps and overeating (because you’re hungry again more quickly).
  
But wholegrain pasta is actually good for you:
 
The bran has nutrients like protein, iron, and B vitamins and the fibre keeps you full for longer, avoiding those sugar spikes and troughs. 
 
 
And a totally tasty store-bought one.

Can you eat Potatoes on a plant based diet?

Yes! Potatoes are actually really good for you. But not when fried in oil and served as chips! (Or crisps.) 

But when boiled, steamed, mashed and specially baked they are very healthy. 

Potatoes are not at all the same as white processed pasta (which they are often lumped in with, because of their starch content). Potatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals: they have potassium, magnesium, vitamin B-6, and a high vitamin C content (who knew!). They are fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free and low in sugar. 

And yes they are starchy but you get very good nutritional value for your calories here. We actually need starch to fill us up in the way potatoes do: they nourish us.

vegan mash potatoes

Vegan Fluffy Creamy Mash Potato

What’s in it?

  • boiled potatoes
  • unsweetened almond milk or rice milk
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon of nutritional yeast

Optional: sweet potatoes or cauliflower (boiled or even better, roasted), green peas, onions

How do you make it? 

The best way to cook potatoes is to scrub them and then boil them in their skin (rather than peel them, because most of the nutrients sit just under the skin)
 
Peel them once they’re cooked. 
 
Mash them and add a little nutmilk, salt, and nutritional yeast. Mash together and slowly add more to taste.
 
Optionally mash in other vegetables for variations in colour and taste, or to serve hidden vegetables to your kids 😉

Here are two ways to roast potatoes without oil:

Scrub potatoes and then boil them in their skin until half cooked. Peel them and cut into pieces. 

Coat them in a little juice from a can of chickpeas (with optional seasoning like salt, pepper, herbs) and then roast in the oven until done. 

Or

Scrub potatoes and then boil them in their skin until half cooked. Peel them and cut into pieces. 

Sprinkle them with a little flour and shake them so that they’re well coated. Add optional seasoning and roast in the oven until done. 

More Plant Based Dishes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

vegan lasagna

Best recipe for vegan lasagna I’ve found 

Best store bought vegan lasagna I’ve found 

shepherd pie - cottage pie

Best recipe for Vegan Shepherds Pie / Cottage Pie I’ve found 

veggie balls

Best recipe for Vegan Meatballs / Veggie Balls I’ve found 

Best store bought Vegan Meatballs / Veggie Balls / Vegan Burger I’ve found 

vegan mayo 1

Best recipe for oil-free vegan Mayonnaise I’ve found 

Best store bought vegan mayonnaise I’ve found

hummus

Best recipe for extra tasty Hummus I’ve found 

What are the negatives of a plant based diet?

Most critics of a vegan diet point to the fact that fast foods and high levels of sugar and salt are unhealthy even though they are (strictly speaking) vegan.
 
This allows for headlines such as the Health Dangers of a Plant Based Diet even though these kinds of unhealthy processed food are not part of a plant based diet. I recommend always reading beyond the headlines and also bearing in mind that the meat and fast food industry has a lot to lose… 
 
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle”. 
 
“Appropriately planned” meals can be as simple as eating a lot of variety each day.
 

Protein on a plant based diet

Meatless diets have the reputation of not providing enough protein. This is not true. As long as you eat a variety of beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soy products (tempeh, tofu, soybeans, soy milk), seitan, spelt, oats, bread made from sprouted seeds, Spirulina, nuts and seeds throughout the day your body is getting quite adequate levels of protein
 

Iron

The same goes for iron: it is not true that meatless diets don’t provide enough iron, they simply provide a slightly different type of iron (called non-heme) which is not as readily absorbed by the body as the one meat provides. The recommended daily intake for plant based eaters is therefore almost two times higher than for meat eaters. Fortunately, there are many plants that are high in iron (some even higher than meat). Here is a detailed breakdown but in summary, eat a variety of lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, palm hearts (not the same as artichoke hearts), olives, whole grains (quinoa, spelt, amaranth), seeds (chia, hemp, pumpkin, linseed), kale, dried apricots, tomato paste and sun dried tomatoes (fresh tomatoes are not as high), and even coconut milk and dark chocolate. You do not need an iron supplement – too much iron can be harmful to the body!
 

Calcium 

This can be a concern because – although many vegetables are actually high in calcium – the body cannot always access the calcium in some of these vegetables. The best ones to eat that have high levels of “accessible calcium” are kale, turnip greens, Chinese cabbage, broccoli and bok choy. (Interestingly, boiling them will further boost absorption, because this reduces the levels of antinutrients they contain, such as oxalates). Other good sources are almonds, tahini, lentils, beans, soy products, seaweed. You can also buy calcium fortified nut milks. 
 

Vitamin B12

This is found in nutritional yeast but you’re unlikely to meet your body’s entire requirement with this so it’s generally recommended to take a supplement.
Spiritual Power

Now over to you! Where are you at in your health journey? Are you a vegan veteran or just considering to transition? Do you have any questions about the plant based diet I have not covered? Have you found further yummy vegan recipes I should include? Let me know in the comments below.  

And if you’ve found this article helpful please share it to help others. 

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