Green veggies: The king of healthy plant food. Kale, broccoli, darker lettuces, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, green beans. Eat as much of these as you can, every day. Several servings.
Other veggies: Orange and red and yellow veggies like carrots and red bell peppers and squash and tomatoes and pumpkin and sweet potatoes, along with all kinds of mushrooms, onions and garlic, cauliflower. Pile these on, throw them in stir-fries, put them in soups!
Plant proteins: Despite what many people believe, protein is easy to get on a vegan diet. Beans of all kinds (black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, pinto beans), lentils, soy beans (edamame, tempeh and tofu — and no, soy isn’t dangerous). Raw nuts like almonds and walnuts. Seeds like flaxseeds, hemp, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds. I eat all these.
Fruits: Yum. These guys are my saviors, because I don’t eat many sweets anymore. Berries and pomegranates are the king of this category, but apples, oranges, grapes, mangoes, kiwi fruit, bananas, peaches, apricots, papayas, pears and so forth are all amazing. Don’t be afraid of fruits.
Good fats: Don’t be afraid of fats, but just go for the good ones and minimize trans and saturated fats. If you eat saturated fats, get them from plants (coconuts). My favorite fats: nuts of all kinds, avocados, ground flaxseeds, olive and canola oil. I also take a vegan EPA-DHA supplement (like fish oil, but from algae instead) for extra health — brain, joint, heart health, among other good benefits.
Whole grains: Many people these days who try to be healthy are afraid of grains. I have not seen any good scientific evidence that they’re bad for you, but lots that they’re good. However, avoid white flour, and in fact most flour should be minimized altogether. If you’re going to eat bread, try flourless sprouted grain breads. Other good choices: quinoa (actually a seed, not a grain), brown rice, amaranth, millet, steel-cut oats. If you’re allergic or intolerant to gluten, of course avoid gluten, but most people can eat gluten just fine.
Others: I drink a glass or two of red wine every day, along with at least a couple glasses of tea. And lots of water. Some good spices to add to your dishes: cinnamon, tumeric, cayenne.
Special notes for full vegans: If you’re on an all-vegan diet for long, you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting Vitamin B12, either from a vegan supplement or through fortified foods like soymilk or fortified nutritional yeast. Iron, calcium and Vitamin D are other things to look out for, but it’s not hard to figure out.