I’ve been vegan for about nine months now. Since going vegan, I receive the same comments over and over again. People always ask me, “If you don’t eat animal products, do you just eat vegetables all day?” and “How do you get any protein in?” In reality, vegan diets can still be balanced and provide enough protein, despite relying on only plants. Over the past few months, I’ve learned how to be creative with my vegan meals and find alternatives for my favorite animal product-based foods.

Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

Breakfast

Breakfast is definitely my favorite meal of the day. I used to love the Birch Benders Paleo mix, but since going vegan, I’ve been loving their Plant Protein mix. Luckily, this pancake mix is always in stock at the IV Food Co-op! Additionally, I use chia seeds in my batter to act as an egg replacement. Since the chia seeds absorb liquid, it really helps with the fluff factor! Here’s how I whip up protein-packed vegan pancakes in the morning.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup Birch Benders Plant Protein pancake mix
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of water

Directions:

  1. Combine the Birch Benders pancake mix with chia seeds and a dash of cinnamon
  2. Add water to the batter, making sure the batter isn’t too watery.
  3. Cook the pancakes on a nonstick pan coated with coconut oil for about 3 minutes on each side.
  4. Top with some berries, hemp seeds and agave for a filling breakfast.

Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

Lunch

After a few hours of studying, it’s time for lunch. I usually opt for a veggie wrap of some sorts or a tofu scramble. I used to be a big scrambled egg person, but now eggs kind of gross me out. Trust me, you won’t miss eggs with this vegan scramble.

Ingredients:

  • ½ block of medium-firm tofu
  • 1 cup of washed baby spinach
  • ½ cup of washed and sliced white mushrooms
  • ⅓ cup of vegan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mash up the tofu with a fork.
  2. Chop up veggies of your choice. Personally, I usually go with mushrooms and spinach.
  3. Heat a nonstick pan, cover the pan in cooking spray and cook your veggies for around 4 minutes.
  4. Place your mashed tofu onto the pan, toss in your favorite vegan cheese and cook on low heat with the rest of the veggies.
  5. After 5 minutes, the cheese will melt and your scramble will be ready.

Tofu is packed with protein and pairing your scramble with whole wheat toast and avocado will keep you satisfied instead of feeling snack-y all afternoon long.

Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

Snack

After my afternoon workout, I look forward to a protein smoothie to help my muscles recover. Especially since I usually do strength training, fueling after I work out is so important.

Here’s a protein smoothie that I create, usually using Sun Warrior protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 scoop of vegan protein powder
  • ⅓ a frozen banana
  • ⅓ cup of frozen berries
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • As much plant based milk as desired

Directions:

  1. Fill your blender cup halfway with frozen bananas and/or frozen fruit
  2. Add in vegan protein powder
  3. Add in cacao powder and peanut butter
  4. Fill your blender cup halfway with plant-based milk. The less milk added, the thicker the smoothie will be.
  5. Blend and enjoy!

Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

Dinner

I’ve been loving hearty grain bowls for dinner because they only take a few minutes to make. Since there is no strict recipe for grain bowls, they are a highly customizable dinner option. To ensure that my bowls are balanced, I use this formula when I make them: A third of the bowl is composed of a hearty grain, another third of the bowl is a plant-based protein source and the other third can be any veggie of your choosing! Here’s my go-to combination:

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup farro or a grain of your choosing
  • ½ cup of black beans
  • 1 cup of washed and cut broccoli
  • Your favorite sauces and seasonings 

Directions: 

  1. Cook ½ cup of any grain such as farro, rice or couscous according to the package.
  2. Rinse and drain a can of black beans.
  3. Steam one cup of broccoli in the microwave in a bowl filled halfway with water. Microwave for 5 minutes.
  4. Combine all of your ingredients in a bowl with avocado and any seasonings you like. I chose Bitchin’ Sauce, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

Dessert

Since I have a sweet tooth, I always need some sort of chocolate at night. I usually opt for some crunchy green grapes and Theo dark chocolate which can also be found at the Isla Vista Food Co-op.

See, being vegan can still be super fun and tasty — I hope you try out some of these delicious, healthy recipes.

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Stephanie Gerson
Stephanie Gerson is a first-year student studying Art History at UCSB. She is from Palo Alto, California and she is passionate about sustainability, fashion, photography and vegan cooking. In her spare time, Stephanie loves going on bike rides on campus, catching up with friends, or spending hours on her latest embroidery piece!