Vegan Starter Pack

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Emma is the editor & creator (and occasionally writer) for The Messy Heads. She enjoys yellow curry, print media, and singing to herself.

Eating vegan can be insanely overwhelming at first because you have to rewrite all of your rules, meals, and shopping lists. In our society, meat is usually the star of a dish, so when you take that away from center plate, theres a lull, a loss, and a confusion of “ok, now what?”

When I first went vegan I spent a fair amount of time just eating bananas and granola bars while I sat frustrated in front of a computer, cruising through food blogs. I was reading recipes that required things like flax seeds, nutritional yeast, chia seeds, sunflower seed butter, and a myriad of other things my wallet couldn’t afford even if I knew where I could find them. Plus I didn’t have the prep time in my schedule to craft a vegan meal that “you wouldn’t even know was vegan!”

Behold the bowl. So simple, so easy, and something I never get tired of. Basically everything in my fridge can be thrown into a bowl for a meal. When you go vegan, you have to disconnect yourself from the idea of spaghetti and meatballs, tacos, pizza, burgers, and other typical meals you had as a child, not because they don’t exist as vegan options, but because grains and veggies are now the center of your food universe. It’s food in a way that I hadn’t thought of before. Beans just being beans instead of a burrito. Rice just being rice instead of sushi. Appreciating these ingredients for what they are in all their simplicity, and they really are delicious and beautiful on their own.

Here are three vegan variation bowls for breakfast, lunch, dinner & dessert!


Breakfast bowl: Most every day starts out with a smoothie bowl. Tasty & fuels you up for a full day ahead of you. Big oily or sugary breakfasts taste great but in an hour I am just dead energy.

the base: Frozen fruit + some liquid. That’s all you need. The frozen fruit can be bananas, blueberries, mango, raspberries, peaches, or whatever else you want to turn into creamy goodness. I usually add coconut water until its the right consistency, but you can also use soy milk, almond milk, or any other nut milk.

granola + nuts: Grab you favorite granola and add some almonds or even drizzle some peanut butter!

fruit: Finally, cut up some bananas or strawberries or top with berries and finish off your perfect breakfast!

bowlWhole bowl: So many variations and flavors can come from this simple formula. You can add spice, add creaminess, add earthy flavor or implement any cuisine style. The secret lies in the spices and sauces. For lunch or dinner!

the base: Start with a grain or starch. Any kind of rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash etc.

protein: Build it up with some bulk. Any type of bean: kidney, black, garbanzo, white bean, lentils, edamame, etc. Or you can use some seitan or tofu. Or leafy greens have a ton of protein! Kale & spinach are a powerful protein. + P.S. theres plenty of protein in the veggies you are going to top it with.

veggies: This is my favorite part because it adds so much color and personality to your dish. Chop up some tomatoes, shred carrots, steam broccoli, bake brussel sprouts. You get the picture. Any veggie your heart desires goes here.

sauce & spice: This is what gives your bowl it’s character. Are you going to go with soy sauce, lime, tahini, tomato sauce, salsa, salad dressing, balsamic vinegar, cashew cream, pesto, curry… this party is where you get creative & craft something new every time.


Nice Cream: Simple & tasty dessert that is made with fruit and not much else.

the base: Bananas and a blender. That’s literally it. I cut up my bananas before I freeze them because I find it is easier to blend. After a few minutes it will turn into a smooth ice cream like texture and turn almost white. From here you can add in flavoring if you want: chocolate sauce (yes hersheys chocolate syrup is vegan) oreo cookies (yeah also vegan), peanut butter, berries, pistachio, lemon, whatever flavor you want your ice cream to be.

toppings: Top with some semisweet chips, fruit, syrups, nut butters, or anything else you find!



  1. a vegan diet is intimidating to begin, but it’s all worth it in the end. nothing feels better than knowing you aren’t supporting the cause for careless slaughter and cruel abuse to animals.

  2. Brook Komar says

    Having gone vegan myself, 9 months ago this is a really neat little blog post to inspire the wandering vegan!!!

  3. Jordan says

    Can’t thank you enough for simplifying this. I’ve been searching the last week about how to be vegan and have been overwhelmed at how many things i seemingly had to buy and how many cookery classes i’d need to take. You’ve just made it so easy and achievable now i can’t wait to eat clean and earth friendly!

  4. Hi! I’ve been following you for a while and have noticed that you’ve been increasingly advocating for a vegan lifestyle. I’ve been a vegan since the age of 12 (i’m 21 now, still going strong), but I’ve been having a lot of difficulty resonating with the vegan movement. Often, I witness a plethora of vegans failing to consider other forms of oppression– e.g., racism, sexism, human rights (worker rights, etc.)… I appreciate you spreading this lifestyle, and realize that veganism is beneficial on so many levels, but I’m also weary of the fact that you might be unitentionally neglecting certain communities/other oppressions. This YouTuber does a really great job explaining why being vegan is 1) a privilege, and 2) can sometimes foster a toxic environment (just something you might like to consider when pushing a plant-based diet!):

    Hope this is a conversation you might have with your friends, just to delve a little deeper into your ideologies! (i know you’re feeling the bern so i’m sure you’re open to this discourse) ~*~**


  5. Pingback: Vegan on a Budget | The Messy Heads

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