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An easy to follow vegan meal plan that embraces plant-based comfort foods

If you've been toying with the idea of going vegan, or simply embracing more of a plant-based lifestyle, you're not alone. More and more people are taking meatless Monday to the next level by kicking dairy and other animal products to the curb. One big misconception about eating vegan is that you have to live off of salads and smoothies, which couldn't be further from the truth. Granted, those items should be staples in any diet, but going plant-based doesn't mean you need to go without your favourite indulgences (or go hungry!).  With so many delicioius meat and dairy alternatives on the market, you can have you vegan cake and eat it too!

If you need a little help getting started, or simply want to add more variety into your diet, we're laying out the perfect meal plan to get you cooking in ways you probably never thought possible. Cheese sauce without the cheese? We've got it. An eggless omelette? Oh yes. Trust us, you won't feel like you're missing anything with these delicious and easy to follow recipes from Lauren Toyota's Hot for Food blog. 

BREAKFAST

Often referred to as the most important meal of the day, breakfast recipes don't take a back seat in a vegan diet. From chia pudding and overnight oats to pumpkin spice muffins, breakfast banana boats, and of course, a nutrient rich green smoothie to help you put your best foot forward each morning. And for those days when you're craving a more traditional breakfast, Lauren's vegan omelette will more than satiate any desire to crack a few eggs. 

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LUNCH

While there aren't vegan restaurants on every corner across the country quite yet, they are popping up at an incredible rate. Still, packing a homemade lunch is generally a healthier and more economic option in general and we've got no shortage of yummy options. An eggless egg (tofu) salad sandwhich is one dish that will never go out of style, and a classic chop salad will keep you going through the afternoon. Want more? How about collard nori rice rolls with miso tahini dressing,  a baked potato salad or a savoury and super filling Buddha bowl? There are countless options out there, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, but one of our absolute favourites is Lauren's chickpea "tuna" salad sandwich. Even the biggest seafood lovers will rave about it. 

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DINNER

After a long day at work, we all want to sit back, relax, and dig into any one of our favourite comfort foods, and that doesn't have to change if you go vegan. Even the biggest cheese fans will be converted by Lauren's mac and peas that's just as cheesy and delicious as any restaurant version mac and cheese, but won't leave you feeling bloated. Looking for something a little heartier? How about easy vegan chili with cheesy chive biscuits? An easy ramen noodle bowl or lentil and vegetable curry  are perfect alternatives to takeout, and the perfect vegan lasagna is just that - perfect. Still, Lauren's piece de resistance is her unbelieably rich and creamy fettucini alfredo that is so close to the original we're starting to wonder if she's actually a magician. 

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SNACKS

We all need a little mid-afternoon pick-me-up from time to time, and luckily for us, Lauren's snack recipes are just as amazing as the rest. In addition to simply opting for storebought hummus and veggies or crackers, you can whip up your own ranch dip or nacho cheese. Have a sweet tooth? Her chocolate chip almond butter cookies and easy vegan brownie bites do not disapoint. And if you really want to go next level, her banoffee pie is the most addictive and indulgent little piece of vegan heaven that we've ever laid eyes on. An oat crust, a sticky toffee base, loads of bananas, all toppped with the richest, creamiest coconut whipped topping - is there anything not to love?

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Now that you're well-equipped to hop on the plant-based bandwagon, we want to hear how it goes! If you try out some of these recipes, send us your thoughts and tell us if you think it's something you'll stick with. You could be featured on the show in February when Lauren comes back to share her new cookbook (you can pre-order it now)!