After 33 years of being vegan, I know what to eat to maintain my health and vibrancy on a daily basis and for many more years to come — and it’s pretty straightforward. I strive to eat these central types of whole plant-based foods every day: fruits; vegetables; whole grains; and beans, nuts, and seeds. Creating my meals from these foods gives me unlimited ways to enjoy healthy, great-tasting dishes that meet all of my nutritional needs.
How much of these core foods should you eat each day? Here’s what that might look like for a moderately active woman (exercising up to 30 minutes daily) eating an average of 2,000 calories a day.
FRUITS – 2 cups daily.
One cup is about the same as a piece of whole fruit, like a banana, orange, apple, grapefruit, or pear. And for fresh or frozen berries, like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, a serving is about a half cup. For dried fruits, like raisins and dried apricots, it’s about a a quarter cup each day. So strive to eat both whole fruits and berries each day.
VEGETABLES – 3 cups daily.
One cup is about the same as ten broccoli florets, twelve baby carrots, one large sweet potato, 1 cup of sliced beets, 1 cup of chopped zucchini, or 1 cup of sautéed collard greens. And 2 cups of raw, dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and dandelion greens, are considered the equivalent of 1 cup of vegetables. So strive to eat 2 cups of dark green leafy vegetables each day; a half cup of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower; and a half cup of additional veggies, like string beans, peas, okra, and corn.
WHOLE GRAINS – 1½ cups daily.
It’s pretty easy to eat a cup and a half of cooked oatmeal, black rice, quinoa, millet, or whole-grain pasta each day. One slice of whole-grain bread or one whole-grain tortilla is also the equivalent of ½ cup of whole grains. So eating just one sandwich gets you two-thirds of the way to your daily recommended intake.
BEANS, NUTS, AND SEEDS – 1½ cups of beans and ¼ cup of nuts daily.
Eating a cup of and a half of beans each day could include a hot bowl of soup made from lentils, black beans, or split peas. And almonds, walnuts or cashews can be tossed into a morning smoothie.
And of course, I also drink plenty of water – at least 6-8 cups each day.
For a detailed list of the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds you can choose from, be sure to check out my previous blog post on vegan staples to stock your kitchen.
And if you’re wondering about supplements, stay tuned. I’ll be talking about that in an upcoming post.
So focus on eating these core foods each day, and maintaining a healthy vegan diet will soon become second nature to you, too.
This is just what I need as I transition to a plant based lifestyle. Thank you.
So glad it was helpful!
Thanks Tracye! I am really considering transitioning to a pescatarian diet (to start) and this helps greatly. Lovingyour books, talk with you soon!
Hey, Tracie. Welcome, girl! So glad you’re and this was helpful!
such great info as always, thnx so much. Would also love info on skin products that are good to use 🙂
You’re very welcome! And I’ll see what I can do about skin products. 🙂
Hi Tracie, How are you doing? My family and I are still well, thank God! I love your blogs and plan to start my vegan journey in October. It is very hard for me because I am surrounded by carnivores, and I am the main chef!
I want to become vegan for my health. I am 71 years old, 70lbs over weight and had a heart attack in 2012. You can see I need to become vegan today! Thank you for your blogs, and please keep them coming. Peace and Love, Grace Jackson
Hey, Grace. So glad you’re doing well. Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad you’re in the program!
Thank you so much for this info. It can be overwhelming when making a lifestyle change from being a meat/dairy eater to vegan/plant based diet. This breakdown is so helpful and not so intimidating. I haven’t eaten meat in a year and am in the process of eliminating dairy and fish. Your book and blog has been a true inspiration. Thank you!
Hey, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for your warm words. I really appreciate it. I’m glad the book and blog have been so helpful!