August 31, 2023

Assemble Your Own Balanced Vegan Meal

The basics of food combinations and the structure of a balanced and nutritious meal

Eating a balanced and nutritious vegan meal doesn’t have to be complicated. With a bit of knowledge of food combinations and meal structure, you can easily create meals that provide all the essential nutrients your body needs, especially if you’re a newbie vegan.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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Quickly, about different food groups

What you should always have in mind is variety. Any balanced meal typically consists of a combination of different food groups with nutrients contributing to optimal health.

  1. Carbohydrates are the primary energy source for our bodies. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and oats are excellent choices. Also, include starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and corn.
  2. Proteins are essential for muscle repair and overall bodily functions. Sources include legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, nuts, and seeds.
  3. Healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils (olive oil, coconut oil) are important for brain health and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
  4. Veggies & fruit are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Aim to include a variety of colourful vegetables and fruits to get a broad spectrum of nutrients.
  5. Leafy greens are a group of vegetables characterised by their tender, edible leaves. You could say that they are a nutritional powerhouse, rich in iron, calcium, and other micronutrients. Spinach, kale, arugula, and collard greens are only some of my favourites.

Dividing your plate

The best and easiest way to proportion your plate is in 4 sections.

  • 2 of them should be veggies
  • 1 should be carbs
  • and the remaining one protein

On top of all that, you should also remember to add in healthy fats in moderation. Sprinkle some nuts, seeds, or avocado on your meal. These fats support satiety and provide essential fatty acids.

And don’t forget to incorporate leafy greens. Maybe a side salad or some directly into your meal. They’re rich in nutrients, help with digestion and add a refreshing crunch.

Maximising nutrient absorption

While you may consume a variety of nutrients through your diet, not all of them are absorbed efficiently by the body. Some factors can influence how well your body takes in these nutrients, and enhancing absorption can help ensure that you’re getting the most benefit from the foods you consume.

I’m going to give you some simple tips on how to maximise nutrient absorption.

  1. Pair iron-rich foods (like beans) with vitamin C-rich foods (like bell peppers or citrus fruits) to enhance iron absorption.
  2. Pair healthy fats with food containing fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) for better absorption. For instance, add nuts to your spinach salad.
  3. Eat the rainbow! It’s not a coincidence that nature has provided us with an array of colourful plants. Each colour often offers different sets of nutrients, therefore, a colourful diet indicates a variety of nutrients.


Lunch bowl

  • Base: quinoa and mixed greens
  • Protein: chickpeas sautéed with garlic and spinach
  • Veggies: roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli
  • Healthy fats: avocado slices
  • Dressing: tahini & lemon juice


  • Base: brown rice (for extra fibre and vitamins)
  • Protein: tofu cubes stir-fried with bok choy
  • Veggies: carrots, mushrooms, red cabbage
  • Healthy fats: sesame seeds & olive oil in the pan
  • Sauce: soy sauce and perhaps some grated ginger

Personally, I always like to make a simple (side) salad with my main meals for extra fibre and freshness. I recommend a selection of leafy greens and some simple dressing or some olive oil and vinegar.

And remember, don’t be afraid to experiment and try new combinations and flavours. Vegan food and healthy eating doesn’t have to be blunt or boring.

Do let me know if you have questions.

Thank you for reading and supporting our love for vegan nutrition.

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