If you have eliminated meat from your diet (or you’re considering going meatless) but you don’t want to go vegan, the most sensible meal plan is vegetarian.
The cool thing about being vegetarian is you don’t have to worry about the health (and environmental) implications of eating meat. And it’s also far more liberating than going vegan.
In this post, I’m going to show you:
- a 1-day vegetarian mass building meal plan
- best vegetarian foods for packing on muscle mass
- steps to create your own meal plan
- how to get enough protein for building muscle
IMPORTANT: I am not promoting a vegetarian diet, or saying you should or should not be a vegetarian. This is simply to give you an example of how to build the most size possible if you are or decide to go vegetarian.
Vegetarian Meal Plan for Mass
We’re going to stick with the old school bodybuilding meal schedule, which is typically 5-6 meals per day. To make this sensible, 2 of your meals will be protein shakes (I’ll give you some awesome protein shake recipes below!).
This meal plan is based on an evening workout schedule, so you’ll notice that you’ll have a protein shake before dinner. If you train in the early mornings, that’s okay.
The shake for meal 2 is similar to your evening shake. You can switch these around; I recommend having more carbs for your post-workout shake.
Remember, this vegetarian meal plan is built for mass gains! So make sure you’re getting plenty of calories. Use the below meals as a template to create your own meal plan, and adjust your macros and overall calories accordingly.
Vegetarian Mass Meal 1
- 3-4 whole eggs (cage-free, free-roaming, grain-fed)
- 2 servings of oatmeal
- 1/3 cup of blueberries (put these in your oatmeal as a natural sweetener)
- Bagel with cream cheese
You’ll notice that eggs are part of this meal plan. The Spruce Eats article ‘Are Eggs Vegetarian?’ confirms that a vegetarian diet excludes eating animal flesh. So eggs are often included in a vegetarian meal plan.
Vegetarian Mass Meal 2
- 2 scoops of whey protein powder
- 8 ounces of almond milk
- 1/2 serving of natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup of frozen dark berries mix
Vegetarian Mass Meal 3
- 1 or more servings of pasta
- 8-10 ounces of tempeh or pea-based meatballs
- organic spaghetti pasta
- vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese
- 2 pieces of garlic bread
- 1 serving of green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale)
You may be tempted to use Parmesean cheese but this type of cheese is not vegetarian-friendly. Accroding to the Vegetarian Society’s website, Parmasean cheese uses animal rennet: https://www.vegsoc.org/info-hub/veggie-need-to-know/cheese/
Vegetarian Mass Meal 4
- 1-2 servings of nuts (almonds and cashews)
- 1 serving of Greek yogurt
- 1 apple or serving if pineapples
Vegetarian Mass Meal 5
- 2 scoops of whey protein powder
- 8 ounces of almond milk
- 1 banana
- 1/3 serving of frozen blueberries
- 1 serving of spinach
- 1 serving of flaxseed powder
Vegetarian Mass Meal 6
- 8 ounces of tofu
- 1 serving of red and yellow and red peppers mixed
- 1 serving of mushrooms
- 1 serving of cauliflower
- 1 serving of chickpeas peas
- coconut milk
- Thai curry paste
- soy sauce (this is a substitute for fish sauce, which isn’t vegetarian)
Many bodybuilders training for mass will eat a late night meal to get extra protein and calories. You could eat a few eggs or drink whey protein with a serving of peanut butter for this meal.
Some like to eat carbs at night (this may work well if you do early morning workouts). Iin that case you could eat 1-2 servings of oatmeal with blueberries.
Mass Building Vegetarian Foods
Now that you have a sample mass building meal plan it’s time to expand on that. So I’m going to help you create your own full vegetarian mass building meal plan.
There are many more foods you can eat that are vegetarian-friendly. But I want to focus on those foods that have the most protein because that’s important for gaining mass.
Here are some muscle building foods you can choose from to build your mass meal plan…
- Plant-based burgers (such as Beyond Meat’s patties or ground beans/vegetables)
- Eggs – always get eggs from free-roaming hens
- Peas and beans
- Natural peanut butter
- Coconut butter and oil (awesome to cook with!)
- Milk (soy if you’re going to vegan route)
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale
- Sweet potatoes, red potatoes, regular potatoes
These are just some of the foods you can eat as a vegetarian bodybuilder. The great part is all fruits and vegetables can be in your meal plan.
What About Protein on a Vegetarian Diet?
You may have also noticed that many of the foods in the list above are high in protein, which I’ll reiterate, is what we need to build muscle mass. And this is a ‘huge’ concern and often hinders people from switching to a meatless diet. Esther Ellis, MS, RDN, LDN goes in-depth in her article ‘Building Muscle on a Vegetarian Diet‘ on EatRight.org.
The good news is as you can see there are plenty of high protein vegetarian-friendly foods. And the fact that you can eat dairy helps as well.
Another convenient way to get adequate protein for mass gains is with whey protein shakes, which is why I included the 2 shakes in your meal plan above.
It’s not feasible for most people to cook 6-7 meals per day. Even prepping that many meals ahead of time would force you to spend hours in the kitchen. Most of us don’t have that kind of time. Fortunately, there’s a solution…
On a vegetarian diet, you can drink whey protein shakes. 2 of my favorite whey protein powders are below.
**The links open a new window and go to Amazon for purchase.
Both of these brands are great and I have used them for many years. They do not make you bloated or give you an upset stomach like some other whey protein powders.
There are also several plant-based and soy protein powders available if you’re looking to do less dairy. One of the top brands on Amazon is the Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein.
How to Create Your Own Mass Meal Plan
- Use the above 1-day vegetarian mass building meal plan as a template
- Make sure you choose a high protein food from the list of foods above for each meal
- Include 2 or more sides of vegetable-based foods
- Includes fruits in some of your meals but not all (although the sugar in fruits is natural, you don’t want to overdo it – I typically save fruits for my protein shakes)
- Make protein shakes to ensure you’re getting enough calories for building mass
Why Vegetarian May Be More Sustainable than Vegan for Bodybuilders
Going vegan certainly isn’t a bad option. In fact, if you’re considering a vegan diet then read my post How to Build Muscle on a Vegan Diet?
However, not everyone wants to go to that extreme. So a vegetarian may be a more sustainable meatless diet for you.
A vegetarian bodybuilder simply has more food options than a vegan bodybuilder does. There fewer restrictions. This makes meal planning easier. And having more foods that are quickly accessible can make a difference when you’re eating like a bodybuilder, 6 or more times a day.
You also have more protein sources available as a vegetarian vs vegan. Eggs are a prime example. Eggs contain a full amino acid profile and plenty of healthy fats.
No matter what type of diet you choose, you do need adequate protein to build muscle, especially if you’re going for mass gains.
And that’s one of the things that hold many bodybuilders back from going full vegan. Diary, which includes whey protein shakes, is not on the vegan menu. That’s a core source of protein for bodybuilders and strength athletes.
Vegetarian Eating for Mass Building
Now you have a starting point for creating your own vegetarian mass building meal plan. So let’s recap some key points to remember that are specific to mass gains:
- Make sure you’re eating enough calories to grow
- Eat plenty of protein-rich foods
- Use protein shakes to get adequate protein
- Eat anywhere from 5-7 meals per day
- Most importantly, be consistent!
Also, make sure you’re training hard and heavy. I realize that’s a no-brainer and you’re probably already doing that. But being consistent with your training is as important as your diet.
If you need workout plans for building mass, check out these posts:
9 Bodybuilding Workouts for Mass Gains
6-Day Push Pull Legs Workout Plan for Mass
8-Week Bodybuilding Program for Mass Gains
**If you’d like to read about meal plans thaet include meat, read my 2 posts:
Meal Plans for Mass Gains
Meal Plans for Getting Shredded
Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,