Whether you’re a strict vegan or you simply want to try out a vegan diet, one of the biggest questions that inevitably pops up is “how I will eat enough protein?” This is especially pertinent for those who want to track macros and eat macro-friendly meals.
While this is certainly a valid concern, the reality is that there are plenty of ways you can eat vegan foods and hit your protein goals. In fact, a well-structured Vegan macro meal plan will allow you to hit your targets quite easily.
So whether your decision to eat more plant-based foods is based on ethics, environmental concerns, health concerns, or a combination of all three, rest assured that you can still hit your targets and achieve the aesthetic goals you’re seeking by following a vegan macro diet.
In this article, we’re going to discuss several important factors that play a role in a vegan diet and then share a sample vegan macro meal plan so that you can get started in the right direction.
Resource: Use our free macro calculator to get your macro numbers!
What Are the Benefits of Tracking Macros as a Vegan?
Macro tracking isn’t for everyone. However, there are numerous benefits to learning macros and understanding what percentage of them make up the foods we eat. A macro diet is simply a diet that places emphasis on tracking the protein, carbohydrates, and fats in the foods that you eat. For those looking to accomplish a particular goal, like weight loss, muscle gain, or body recomposition, setting customized macro goals and tracking your food intake can help you to achieve those goals in an efficient and effective manner.
The following are the benefits of tracking macros, regardless of what your dietary preferences are:
- Optimized nutrition intake based on your unique goals
- Flexibility and freedom with your diet
- No need to eliminate any foods or food groups
- Gives you a solid understanding of food and how it affects your body
- Can help you to achieve a variety of body composition goals
- Allows you to remain strong and fueled for better energy and more graceful aging
One of the biggest pieces of the counting macros puzzle is an emphasis on consuming ample protein in your diet. There are so many benefits to eating protein for women, and whether you get that protein from a plant-based diet or not, it makes no difference.
As someone who is choosing a vegan lifestyle, following your macros targets can help to ensure that your body is getting the right nutrients, in the right amounts for you to reach your unique and specific goals. It can also make sure that you’re eating in a way that fuels your body and keeps it strong and healthy. Much of this will come from your ability to hit your daily protein goal.
High-Protein Vegan Food Sources
In order to begin putting together a vegan macro meal plan, it makes sense to first start with your common protein options as this is the biggest sticking point when it comes to macros and a vegan lifestyle. But rest assured that it’s very possible to have both! Here are some high-protein vegan foods that will help you hit your protein macros while following a vegan diet:
- Beans - Beans are one of the best vegan sources of protein available and there are tons of options. Black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas all make for high-protein meals and there are tons of ways to incorporate them into your diet.
- Lentils- These high-fiber legumes provide a whopping 18g of protein per cup and are very versatile as well.
- Tofu- A common swap for meat, tofu provides 20g of protein in just one cup.
- Edamame - With 17g of protein per cup, edamame is a great source of vegan protein.
- Tempeh - Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and provides a generous 33g of protein per cup.
- Seitan - This plant-based meat substitute packs a grand total of 45g of protein per ½ cup.
- Nuts/Nut Butters - With a moderate amount of plant-based protein and a healthy dose of satisfying fats, nuts, and nut butters can help you hit your vegan protein goals while keeping you full.
Vegan Carbohydrates Sources
Now that we have the tough part settled and we laid out the vegan protein sources, we can turn to the carbs and fats portion of building your vegan macro meal plan. Let’s run down some optimal carb sources for a vegan diet next.
Complex Carbohydrates - Complex carbs are those foods that also contain fiber and protein, which allow them to be digested more slowly when compared to simple carbs (processed foods and sugars). When consuming complex carbs, your body will feel fuller for longer and you will help your body to regulate any blood sugar spikes.
Unprocessed Foods - Fruits, whole grains, starchy veggies, and legumes are all fiber-rich carbs that should be staples in your vegan macro diet.
- Fruits: provide a source of natural energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Great options include apples, bananas, oranges, berries, melons, pineapple, pears, kiwi, etc.
- Vegetables: there are both starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables, both of which are important in a vegan macro meal plan. Non-starchy vegetables tend to be more voluminous veggies like leafy greens that are packed with fiber and tons of nutrients. These are crucial in a vegan macro diet plan for weight loss as you can eat a relatively large serving for fewer calories than starchy vegetables. Starchy veggies have their place in your vegan diet as well, these are nutrient-dense and very filling. Examples include potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, squashes, etc.
- Whole Grains: These are going to be your complex carbohydrates that contain fiber and protein and that take longer for your body to digest. These will keep you feeling full and satisfied and include things like oats, brown rice, quinoa, millet, barley, etc.
Vegan Fat Sources
The final piece of the vegan macro meal plan is your fat sources. Consuming plenty of healthy fats will help to ensure the optimal body and hormonal function, this is especially important for females. Plant-based fats are pretty easy to find and incorporate into your diet, here are a few common options:
- Avocado - not only do avocados offer plenty of healthy, vegan dietary fat, but they also pack a powerful punch of fiber. Try our dietitian's zucchini avocado cinnamon nut bread recipe!
- Nuts and seeds - nuts and seeds offer some of the most nutrient-dense fats we can get while also maintaining a relatively high protein and fiber content for even more health benefits.
- Olive Oil and Coconut Oil - although high in calories, these two vegan oils can help to up your daily healthy fats intake while maintaining your vegan macro diet plan.
Example Vegan Macro Meal Plan
Below, we’re sharing a sample vegan macro meal plan that can be customized to meet your specific macronutrient needs and targets. This 5-day macro vegan plan will provide you with some inspiration to create your own customized vegan meal plan.
- Oatmeal with 1 scoop of vegan protein powder (check our best dairy-free protein powders for our top choices)
- 1 cup of berries
- Unsalted, dry-roasted almonds
- 1 cup dairy-free yogurt
- Large salad with edamame
- 1 vegan protein bar (we like 1st Phorm Vegan Pro Bars)
- Sweet potato tofu bowl
- Vegan breakfast tacos with tofu
- Vegan yogurt with 1 cup of fresh berries
- Stuffed sweet potato with vegan burger crumbles (Beyond Meat works great)
- Unsalted, dry-roasted almonds
- Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons
- Whole wheat english muffin with 1 tbsp peanut butter
- Fruit of choice
- Vegan protein bar
- Tofu salad sandwich with vegan potato chips
- Vegan smoothie with frozen berries and almond butter
- Vegan potato soup with whole wheat bread
Final Thoughts On Designing a Vegan Macro Meal Plan
Following a vegan diet can offer a ton of health and wellness-related benefits as can tracking your macros, so you’ll be pleased to know that these two nutrition plans are not mutually exclusive - you can design a meal plan that’s both vegan and macro-friendly.
The biggest objective that I hear from those who follow a vegan diet is that they struggle to hit their daily protein goals. However, with a little knowledge, an open mind, and some creativity, you can easily meet your protein and other macronutrient goals while following a vegan lifestyle.