If you’re trying to figure out what vegans eat for breakfast, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got tons of fantastic vegan breakfast ideas here. Let’s start with the easy stuff, and work our way up to more involved meals.
Many people are prone to high blood sugar when they wake up. So compounding the problem by eating sugary foods for breakfast can, over time, screw up your pancreas and lead to diabetes.
Unfortunately, some of the most popular breakfast foods are loaded with sugar: doughnuts, muffins, pancake syrup, jam, and even fruit smoothies. There’s never been a beverage more associated with breakfast than orange juice—a glass of which contains as much sugar as a candy bar.
For better health, try to minimize sugary foods first thing in the morning. You’ll probably find your energy throughout the morning is more stable if you avoid sugar, plus you’ll appreciably reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Most of the breakfast recommendations here keep sugar content to a minimum. You don’t have to be perfect, but avoiding sweetened breakfast foods, as well as sugar in your coffee, can deliver a big payoff.
Breads of various types are among the most commonly-served breakfast items, and many varieties are vegan-friendly. Plain old toast, or—if you want to get a little fancier—English Muffins, are excellent choices. As always, breads made primarily from whole grains are the healthier choice. Here are a few excellent spreads:
Bagels—usually halved, toasted, and smeared with cream cheese or butter—are incredibly popular in New England. It’s even widely believed that New York City’s water supply makes for a better bagel than you can get elsewhere. If you’ve got a slot toaster and some vegan cream cheese or jam, you can buy bagels locally in bags of six and there’s no cheaper breakfast to make at home.
Bagel shops are also beloved fixtures in college towns throughout the United States. Many bagel shops offer vegan cream cheese or butter. Nearly all bagels are vegan—just watch out for yellowish “egg bagels” or honey added to the whole wheat varieties.
You may also be able to find vegan muffins locally, although this is a less healthy option since they tend to contain lots of sugar. Croissants are another wonderful breakfast food, but they’re traditionally made with lots of butter. While you may have a tough time finding vegan croissants available for purchase, you can always bake your own. Here’s a recipe with lots of helpful photos, and you’ll find a number of other recipes if you do a search for vegan croissants.
For my money, though, the very best bread-based vegan breakfast item is a Mexican dish called molletes. Made traditionally, this is bread slices topped with refried beans, meat, and cheese and then baked. But you can make a fantastic vegan version with refrieds, vegan cheese, chopped onions, and maybe a dab of salsa. If you can add some avocado slices to add after baking, that’ll further elevate this wonderful dish. I really don’t think there’s a more satisfying or delicious breakfast, and it’s so easy to make.
Since vegan molletes are rich in protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats, they’ll easily carry you through the morning and to lunch. They’re ideally made with baguette-style bread, which in Mexico is called bolillo.
Vegan Breakfast Meats
In Mexico, a very moist and spicy type of sausage called “chorizo” is a big breakfast favorite that’s commonly added to eggs and other breakfast foods. Unlike most sausage, chorizo is not served in its casing. Instead, you remove it from its casing and spoon it out over your food prior to cooking. Check the vegan meat section of your natural food store to see if they carry vegan chorizo, as there are at least a couple excellent brands that are widely distributed. Vegan chorizo is a sensational addition to tofu scramble.
Many breakfast cereals are vegan, so just add a little soy milk or almond milk and you’re in business. If you use an unsweetened vegan milk, you’ll cut your meal’s sugar intake dramatically. In order to keep blood sugar levels steady, it’s especially important to avoid sugars early in the day. I’m a big fan of organic puffed brown rice, which is basically Rice Krispies without the junk. Along with soy milk I consider this the finest simple breakfast imaginable.
When it comes to cold cereal, Nature’s Path deserves a special shout-out. While some of their products contain honey, all their cereals are whole-grain and organic.
If you want a hot, simple, and filling vegan breakfast, oatmeal is a great choice. Steel cut oats take longer than rolled oats to cook, but many people consider the improved texture worth the added time. Kathy Hester has devoted an entire cookbook to vegan oatmeal recipes. And oatmeal is just the start of your hot cereal options. Also be sure to try:
- Cream of Wheat
- Bob’s Red Mill Cream of Buckwheat
Hot cereals offer a great opportunity to add in chopped walnuts or chia seeds, both of which are loaded with omega 3—an important type of fat that is abundant in very few vegan foods. Also try adding chopped dates, cinnamon, or maple syrup to your whole-grain hot cereal. And for a nice change of pace, also try muesli, which can be served hot or cold.
One of the easiest breakfasts is a smoothie made from frozen fruit and your favorite nut milk. You can make these in your blender in less than a minute and it’s a terrific way to start the day.
Special Vegan Breakfasts
Want to get fancier? Our brunch-page offers all sorts of delicious possibilities that are a little too time-consuming (and gut-busting) for everyday cooking.
There are countless recipes for vegan pancakes, french toast, waffles, and muffins. If eggs are more your style, consider making a tofu scramble. A popular vegan product called Just Egg can be used in place of eggs for a traditional omelette. There are likewise a number of excellent vegan sausages and bacons on the market. I especially recommend the sausages made by the Field Roast Grain Company.
Orange juice, coffee, or almond milk are terrific beverages to accompany your breakfast. If you prefer cream in your coffee, you can get outstanding vegan coffee creamers in the dairy case of any good natural foods store.
For further reading: Don’t miss our vegan brunch, lunch, and dinner pages. And if you want to step up your food preparation skills, check out our comprehensive guide to vegan cooking.