Is the myth that plant-based meals aren’t filling keeping you from cutting back on meat and loading up on plants? These dietitian-backed recipes will help you feel satiated and well-fueled to continue crushing workouts without an ounce of animal protein.
What Is Plant-Based Eating?
Eating a plant-based diet does not have to mean going completely vegan.
“Eating plant-based is more of a lifestyle or an opportunity to better your nutrition, which is exactly why I like it,” Maggie Michalczyk, M.S., R.D., says.
You can still incorporate animal products, as long as you focus more on whole plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
“Some people practice predominantly plant-based eating, which can mean eating meat is rare,” Michalczyk says. “For others, like me, it means adding plant-based protein and opting for meatless dishes a few times a week.”
How to Make Plant-Based Meals Satiating
Of course, if your version of "plant-based" means eating just salads and plain vegetables, you can expect to feel hungry pretty much all the time.
The key to creating a plant-based meal plan that actually satisfies you is incorporating plenty of plant-based proteins and healthy fats, like beans, nuts, avocado, and seeds. Add a serving of each to every meal and you’ll be set.
Plant-Based Meals That’ll Keep You Full
The next time you’re tempted to fall back on beef and broccoli from your local Chinese takeout joint after a long day of working and training hard, try one of these flavor-packed plant-based meals at home instead.
Great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this recipe by The Real Food Dietitians is filling and rich in nutrition.
The kale, which provides three grams of protein per cup, sets a solid foundation for the meal. From there, you can throw in some beans, lentils, or tofu for extra punch. Or, if you are incorporating some animal foods, top the dish off with a fried egg, which offers protein and satiating fats.
Not sure how you’ll survive summer barbecues without cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches? This delicious chickpea burger from The Toasted Pine Nut has you covered.
“Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, coming in at about 15 grams per cup,” Michcalczyk says.
Protein aside, these patties also offer loads of flavor from Buffalo sauce, cilantro, red onion, and lots of garlic. (Plus, they also happen to be a solid source of fiber.)
This warm, grounding, spiced meal from Food Faith Fitness feels incredibly rich and hearty — no meat necessary.
The Middle Eastern flavors and creamy curry sauce make this vegan, Paleo-friendly meal smooth and indulgent.
"The tahini and the cashews pack a punch of protein, [and] I like the kick of turmeric, which gives this dish a boost of anti-inflammatory benefits,” Michalczyk says.
Best of all, the meal comes together in less than 20 minutes.
Make these lettuce wraps by Ambitious Kitchen and you won’t miss Reubens or meal-packed deli sandwiches at all.
“The chickpeas in these wraps are a great source of protein, while the pecans are an excellent source of healthy fat,” Michalczyk says.
The apples contribute fiber, additional flavor, and crunchy texture, so you’ve got a well-rounded meal that’s fun to eat.
While endurance athletes mustn't worry about strictly limiting carb consumption, zucchini noodles are still a great and clean plant-based way to get your pasta fix.
Throw Sweet as Honey’s thick, creamy sunflower seed pesto into the mix, and you’ve got a flavorful, filling meal.
“While zucchini is not super high in protein, this dish gets protein from the sunflower seeds in the pesto and the Parmesan cheese [or nutritional yeast], too,” Michalczyk adds.
A recipe from Michalcyzk’s blog, Once Upon a Pumpkin, these tacos let you enjoy Taco Tuesday meat-free.
“The black beans in this dish are truly a protein star, coming in at 15 grams per cup,” she says.
From there, you’ll score lots of extra healthy fats from avocado and fiber from the different veggies, like peppers and butternut squash.
In all, you’ve got a well-balanced meal that’s easy to update with different vegetables and beans.
Another better-for-you pasta option, chickpea pasta contains more protein and fiber than grain-based noodles (which offer very little protein).
This vegan alfredo recipe by A Saucy Kitchen is creamy and rich, but not too heavy, so you’ll satisfy your cravings without getting weighed down during afternoon workouts.