Vegan meal plans seem to be a dime a dozen.
If you want to become vegan, a meal plan is a common route people take.
They are quick and no thinking is required.
But this article doesn’t contain a vegan meal plan, how to make one, or why you need one when you first become vegan.
It is quite the opposite.
Why don’t I use meal plans with clients or in my courses?
I will share with you:
- why vegan meal plans are not a long term solution to staying vegan for a lot of people
- my experience with meal plans
- how to become vegan without depending on a vegan meal plan
My First Experience With Vegan Meal Plans
When I first became vegan, within a year or two, I bought a meal plan in the hopes I would learn some fun recipes and find new foods.
This was a 28-day plan, and I could alter the quantity of food I ate depending on my weight and height.
I used this meal plan over and over again, maybe 4 or 5 months in total.
There were great recipes, the grocery list was easy to follow, and the recipes were simple and healthy.
So what went wrong?
I didn’t know this was a problem until years later.
The amount of food I was eating per day turned out to be too low for my body, but after a few months of following this meal plan, I unconsciously learned to eat this amount of food.
For years after, I would eat too little food one day and then way more the next day because I was still hungry from the days I did not eat enough.
My metabolism was not happy with these fluctuations.
My body wanted a regular amount of food daily but I was, unknowingly, eating too little and then too much.
Looking back on this experience now, I can see how we pick up so many ‘food rules’ from everywhere, and we may not even consciously know we are doing it.
One of the biggest issues I have with meal plans is that they don’t adapt to your body and your daily needs.
They are a one-size-fits-all approach to something that needs a unique and personalized solution.
Even if a meal plan is good for you at one point in your life, it doesn’t mean it will work in a year.
My Experience With A Vegan Meal Plan App
Before I realized I was not eating how my body wanted, I decided to try a meal plan app.
It created vegan meal plans for me based on how much I wanted to eat and what kind of foods I liked.
I was tired of constantly thinking of food to eat every day, so I got some help.
It was a great app, to be fair.
The app allowed me to generate a grocery list based on whatever days I chose, and I could change my meals if I didn’t like what they picked for me.
And the food was honestly delicious, and they had a vegan setting.
After about 6 weeks, I started feeling heavy and slow. I felt bloated all the time, and I had no energy.
This worried me because I had no idea what was happening.
One thing I did notice as I was preparing all of the food was the amount of protein I was now eating.
It is safe to say that I was doubling the amount of protein I was eating each day.
This stuck out to me, but I thought > Hey, this company knows what they are doing, right? They know how much is the right amount.
A few days after I stopped eating the meals laid out for me, I started feeling better.
I was feeling lighter, and I had more energy.
Right then and there, I knew it was the protein.
I checked the app to see if I could lower my intake of this macronutrient, but it was set in stone.
If I wanted to eat this amount of food, this was the portion that had to be protein.
I did try to just reduce the amount I put in my meals, but then I thought I might as well just plan my own meals.
Instead of just forgetting about this experience, I thought about it for a bit.
Why did I let myself be fooled into thinking I didn’t know what was right for my body?
How did I let an app dictate my protein intake without question?
What were these protein numbers based on?
I honestly just wanted to take something off of my mind for a bit – all the steps involved in meals.
A break from thinking about food and meals all the time sounded amazing.
This app allowed me to do that and it felt so good.
The stress I was feeling around picking a recipe, buying ingredients, and preparing the food was all put to rest when I had this app.
This was a nice weight off of my shoulders, so I totally gave into it.
And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
The problem was that I stopped listening to my body and started to feel worse and worse.
Looking back now, I still don’t know what the protein requirements were based on, but I do know they were not based on my needs.
I learned some valuable lessons from this experiment:
- My body does better with more carbohydrates – which is lucky because I also happen to love them.
- It is good to eat until full and eat when you are hungry rather than the amounts a meal plan arbitrarily gives.
- Meal plans can create small changes in eating habits that, over the long term, may actually create disordered eating practices.
- It doesn’t have to take a long time to make meals. It doesn’t have to be stressful or something to dread.
- It is so much more powerful and sustainable to create meals on my own knowing my likes and needs.
This can be true for you too.
Transitioning to a vegan diet can be hard and can be made easier with vegan meal plans.
But over the long term, you might be better off doing the hard part now and building up your confidence and knowledge.
It can be uncomfortable to do the harder thing, but in the long run, you will have learned a lot more and have a better grasp of the vegan diet if you go through it headfirst.
When you become vegan, it is okay to make mistakes, give in to cravings, and even feel lost.
We are all human.
For me, the bigger problems happened when I stopped listening to my body and followed rules given to me by a computer.
Plus I learned a heck of a lot more when I did the research and worked through the trial and error.
As always, if you have any questions or just want to reach out, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in plant love,