Vegan Heart-Healthy Breakfast Ideas on a Budget
by Heather Moore
Hey, fellas, here’s a good reason to eat breakfast every morning: A Harvard School of Public Health study involving nearly 27,000 men suggests that men who skip breakfast are 27 percent more likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease than men who eat breakfast regularly.
The researchers, who tracked male health professionals for 16 years, didn’t look at whether or not the men ate a healthy breakfast—they merely looked at whether or not the men ate breakfast at all. But it’s only logical that a healthy vegan breakfast would be better for your heart—and your waistline—than cholesterol-laden bacon and eggs or a cream cheese–covered bagel.
Dr. David Jenkins, a nutrition scientist at the University of Toronto, says that “the evidence is very strong that vegans, who eat no animal products, have the best cardiovascular health profile and the lowest cholesterol levels.”
The human body manufactures all the cholesterol that it needs, so each additional 100 milligrams of cholesterol that you consume by eating meat, eggs, or dairy products—the only dietary sources of cholesterol—adds roughly five points to your cholesterol level. When enough cholesterol and fat clog your coronary arteries—the ones leading to your heart—your heart will lose some of its blood supply, and you’ll have a heart attack.
But every time you reduce your cholesterol level by 1 percent, you reduce your risk of a heart attack by 2 percent. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease author Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who was featured in the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives, says that vegans are virtually “heart-attack proof.” He has even “cured” patients with clogged arteries just by putting them on healthy vegan diets.
Eating a healthy meat-free morning meal—one that includes fruits, whole grains, and other vegan foods—will get you on track to make smart choices throughout the day. That goes for both men and women, as the Harvard researchers were quick to point out that their findings most surely apply to women, too.
Fortunately, it’s easy to make an inexpensive, great-tasting, heart-healthy breakfast. Just whip up some steel-cut oats with almond milk and frozen blueberries or have some wholesome cereal, such as Shredded Wheat or Cheerios, with soy milk and a banana or fresh berries.
And you can never go wrong with a fruit smoothie, a peanut butter wrap, French toast, or scrambled tofu.
Here are some tasty breakfast recipes to make your morning routine a little less routine.
Berry Banana Smoothie
4 frozen strawberries
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup apple juice
- Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. (Makes 2 servings)
1 peach, sliced and frozen
3/4–1 cup vanilla or plain soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve immediately. (Makes 1 serving)
Easy Peanut Butter Breakfast Wrap
6–8 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
4 whole-grain flour tortillas
2 bananas, sliced
1 apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup raisins
- Spread 1/4 of the peanut butter on 1 tortilla. Layer 1/4 of the remaining ingredients on top.
- Roll tightly. Slice in half on a diagonal.
- Repeat until all the ingredients are used.
Makes 4 servings
1 lb. firm tofu, patted dry and mashed
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup of your favorite vegetables, such as broccoli, fresh mushrooms, onions, or tomatoes
- Place the tofu in a lightly oiled sauté pan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, stir well, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and the tofu is heated through.
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup soy milk
3 Tbsp. unbleached flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 slices whole-wheat or sourdough bread
Fresh fruit, fruit preserves, or maple syrup
- Whisk together the soy milk, flour, cinnamon, and vanilla.
- Dip the bread in the batter, turning to coat both sides, then cook in a nonstick skillet until golden brown.
- Serve with fresh fruit, fruit preserves, or maple syrup.
Makes 2 servings
Remember: Eating breakfast is wise, but eating a healthy vegan breakfast is crucial. Vegan foods are cholesterol-free and generally low in saturated fat and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, so they’re good for your heart and all your other organs. And each vegan saves more than 100 animals every year. Here is a link to several vegan recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. There are hundreds of them, so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste—and budget.
(Heather Moore is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Washington Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and many other newspapers and magazines. In her free time, Heather enjoys watching Orioles baseball games, going to the botanical gardens, and eating at vegan-friendly restaurants.)