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Meatless Dieting: A Low-Calorie, High-Nutrition Vegan Diet Foods List

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 5/31/2011

Eschewing fleshy foods for plant-derived protein whittles your waistline--and lengthens your life--deliciously. If you've eaten meat for a lifetime, you'll need to get familiar with the vegan "superstars." How to start? By introducing the contents of this vegan diet foods list to your kitchen.

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    You And Meat: It's Over

    You know the facts: that choosing a plant-based diet is the single best thing you can do to preserve your health and prolong your vitality. After all, a vegan diet is the golden ticket to health: according to The American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have “lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease; [...]lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer."

    If you're feeling woeful about your waistline, there's one other important factor in a meat-free diet: vegans are about nine times less likely than their meat-eating brethren to be obese. When planned with an eye towards health, a plant-based diet provides every necessary nutrient without the cholesterol, contaminants, and gut-cloggers that fill animal-flesh food.

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    Making A Smooth Transition To Whole Foods

    If this is your first foray into meat-free eating, enjoy the process! For now, place the focus on integrating delicious, high-quality, organic meat alternatives--once you've broken the meat habit, you can fuss over calories. You'll be glad you did, and using this vegan diet foods list is the perfect way to get started.

    Does vegan dieting sound overwhelming? It's not. The best vegan diet plans are the simplest, after all. They center around simple, clean, unprocessed foods in their whole forms (brown rice as opposed to white; chopped tomatoes as opposed to canned tomatoes; etc). When you eat a wide variety of whole foods, you give your body 100% of the food's native nutrition. These whole plant foods contain absolutely everything the body needs to be vital, energetic and slender (including protein--don't be fooled by the hype).

    When not purchasing whole, unprocessed foods, follow these quick shopping tips on what to watch for when buying vegan food here.

    The list below contains dieter-friendly "transitional foods"--satisfying, familiar delights that, eaten in moderation, will help wean a meat-addled body and pave the way for a healthful, trim, plant-based future.

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    The Basics: Meat Alternatives

    Satisfying, toothsome and utterly versatile, these three meat alternatives are the basis for thousands of meat-free recipes. Stick to the suggested portion sizes, and your meals will consistently win the "calories game" over the meaty feasts of your past.

    • Tempeh: Serving Size: 4 oz. - Fat: 9g - Saturated Fat: 0.5g - Calories: 220 - Fiber: 11g - Protein: 20g - Carbohydrates: 15g
    • Tofu: Serving Size: 4 oz. - Fat: 5.5g - Saturated Fat: 0.5g - Calories: 86 - Fiber: 0.5g - Protein: 9g - Carbohydrates: 2g
    • Seitan: Serving Size: 4 oz. - Fat: 2g - Saturated Fat: 0g - Calories: 160 - Fiber: 4g - Protein: 30g - Carbohydrates: 10g
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    The Stand-Ins: Dairy Alternatives

    The key to kicking dairy is simple: just sub it out. It makes sense, after all: we're the only species on Earth that drinks milk past infancy. (Add to that the fact we're the only species that drinks the milk of another animal entirely, and that's sufficiently weird to avoid the dairy case, right?) Here are some delicious, waistline-perfect stand-ins for their "uddery" counterparts.

    • Nonfat milk alternative: Pacific® Unsweetened Almond Milk: Serving Size: 8 oz. - Fat: 2.5g - Saturated Fat: 0g - Calories: 35 - Fiber: 0g - Protein: 1g - Carbohydrates: 2
    • Butter alternative: Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread®. Serving Size: 1 tbsp. - Fat: 11g - Saturated Fat: 3.5g - Calories: 100 - Fiber: 0g - Protein: 0g - Carbohydrates: 0g
    • Cheese alternative: Daiya® (Mozza- or Cheddar-Style Shreds). Serving Size: 1/4 cup - Fat: 6g - Saturated Fat: 2g - Calories: 90 - Fiber: 1g - Protein: 1g - Carbohydrates: 7g
    • Sour cream alternative: Tofutti® Sour Supreme. Serving Size: 2 tbsp. - Fat: 5g - Saturated Fat: 2g - Calories: 85 - Fiber: 0g - Protein: 1g - Carbohydrates: 9g

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    The Supporting Cast: Vegan Dressings & Condiments

    If you need any coaxing to dig into a low-cal vegan meal, it's time to bring out the big guns: delightful condiments and dressings that make that entree sing. Best of all? They're almost always lower-calorie and higher-satisfaction than "fake food," nonvegan diet products!

    • Mayonnaise alternative: Reduced Fat Vegenaise®. Serving Size: 1 tbsp. - Fat: 5g - Saturated Fat: 0g - Calories: 45 - Fiber: 0g - Protein: 0g - Carbohydrates: 1g
    • Half-n-Half alternative: Unsweetened MimiCreme®. Serving Size: 1 tbsp. - Fat: 1g - Saturated Fat: 0g - Calories: 10 - Fiber: 0g - Protein: 0g - Carbohydrates: 4g
    • Grated parmesan cheese alternative: Galaxy® Vegan Parmesan. Serving Size: 2 tsp. - Fat: 0g - Saturated Fat: 0g - Calories: 15 - Fiber: 0g - Protein: 2g - Carbohydrates: 1g

    Print this vegan diet foods list and take it with you the next time you go grocery shopping - your waistline will be glad you did. For information on vegan recipes, please read "How it All Vegan."

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    References

    Vegan Action's Guide To Getting Started - http://www.vegan.org/going_vegan/eating_vegan/index.html

    Vegetarian Resource Group – www.vrg.org

    PETA – www.goveg.com