Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diets

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Vegetarian Diets

People choose vegetarian diets for a number of reasons; an aversion to killing animals, a reluctance to eat meat, or a simple choice towards a different way of life.

There are a number of different vegetarian diets. Although it need not be a completely restrictive diet. The core theme across all vegetarian diets is the avoidance of all red meat (such as beef, lamb, and pork).

Types of Vegetarian

  • Vegan – Eats no food sourced from animals
  • Lacto-ovo – Includes milk and eggs.
  • Lacto – Allows milk but will not eat eggs.
  • Ovo – Eats eggs only – but no other animal foods.
  • Pesco – Eats fish but no other animal foods (pescetarian)
  • Pollo – Allows chicken
  • Fruitarian (sub-set of vegan – includes only fruiting portion of plant).

As vegetarian diets are based on consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains, these diets are high in fiber. They have other health advantages in that they are normally lower in calories, saturated fat, and refined sugars.

With the correct understanding and careful planning, all types of vegetarian diet can provide adequate nutrition.

Nutrients to be aware of

The main nutrients that must be emphasized are; protein, iron, calcium, zinc, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.

Lacto/ovo diets provide protein by means of milk and egg white.

On a vegan diet, protein needs must be met by legumes (nuts, peas, lentils, beans, etc). Combining beans and other legumes with various dishes can provide the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein – normally a gram per kilogram of body weight. While Soy milk is an excellent source of protein, it has high estrogen levels which, being a factor in the physical maturing process, is undesirable for the vegan child. Calcium for vegans is available in vegetables like broccoli.

Typical Vegetarian Eating Plan

  • Cereal / cooked oats / muesli (granola) with full-cream / low-fat milk.
  • Grapefruit / grapefruit juice
  • Wholemeal toast with butter (or margarine)
  • Full-cream or low-fat milk
  • Water, tea, coffees, herbal tea
  • Cottage cheese
  • Wholemeal toast with butter (or margarine) plus other spreads.
  • Orange or orange juice
  • Low-fat milk, water, tea, coffee, herbal tea.
  • Muesli (granola) or oatmeal with soya milk and sugar.
  • Wholemeal toast with margarine plus spreads.
  • Orange or orange juice.
  • Barley soup
  • Mixed green salad with salad dressing
  • Cottage cheese
  • Wholemeal bread with butter (or margarine)
  • Fruit
  • Bean soup
  • Sesame crackers
  • Salad
  • Baked apple
  • Low-fat milk
  • Split pea soup
  • Wholemeal bread with margarine plus spreads
  • Fruit and seed salad, and tofu ice cream
  • Soya bean and brown rice casserole
  • Bake pumpkin
  • Coleslaw and mayonnaise
  • Wholemeal bread with butter
  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Wholemeal bread roll with butter or margarine
  • Fruit yogurt
  • Vegetable paella
  • Spinach
  • Pear
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Milk
  • Popcorn
  • Raisins
  • Pear
  • Cheese
  • Wholemeal crackers
  • Prunes
  • Roasted soya beans
  • Wholemeal roll
  • Buttermilk
  • Shelled almonds
  • Peach
  • Raisins


Veganism is more of a philosophy than just a diet. A vegan has an ethical standard to treat all animals with respect and love. Therefore, a true vegan does not use any animal products including those for clothing or cosmetics.

Many use the term vegan interchangeably with vegetarian, but actually it isn’t the same. All vegans are vegetarians but not all vegetarians are vegans.

There are many processed foods that are made specifically for vegans: hot dogs, burgers, taco filling, ground beef, chicken strips, mayonnaise, sour cream, ice cream, chili (Hormel). These products are made with meat substitutes – such as soy our texturized wheat gluten.

More sample vegan menus

Breakfast: Rice krispies with soy milk.
Lunch: Vegetable soup with crackers.
Dinner: Fajita salad with veggie chicken strips (by Morningstar Farms).
Snack: Peanut butter with carrot sticks.


Breakfast: Apple cinnamin oatmeal.
Lunch: Baked potatoes with Smart Balance.
Dinner: Spaghetti.
Snack: Tortilla chips and salsa.

Popular Vegetarian Diets

95% Vegan DietAllows for 5% of the vegan diet to include animal products.
Vegan Before 6:00Encourages dieters to follow a vegan diet before 6 to improve health.
Teen Vegetarian DietA Smart Girls Guide to Going Vegetarian. Offers many different versions of a plant based diet.
Plant Powered DietHighlights the health and weight loss benefits associated with eating more whole plant foods. This book offers a flexible approach that does not require becoming a vegan or giving up meat completely.
30 Day Vegan ChallengeA practical guide to help you get started with a vegan diet. It provides tips and advice on subjects including meeting your nutritional requirements and dealing with the social challenges associated with following a vegan lifestyle.
Crazy Sexy DietA low-fat, vegetarian – or better yet, vegan – program that emphasizes balancing your body’s pH by eating more lush whole foods, low-glycemic fruits, raw veggies, alkalizing green drinks, and super-powered green smoothies.
Diet-to-GoThey provide a vegetarian option as part of their popular meal delivery service
Dr. McDougall DietA low fat plant-based diet that has been used by many dieters with success to achieve weight loss and for the management of conditions including heart disease and diabetes.
Eat to Live6 week vegetarian rapid weight loss plan.
Engine 2 Diet: 28 Day Firefighter DietCreated by Rip Esselstyn, a professional athlete turned firefighter, who converted a firehouse full of committed carnivores to a plant-based diet, in the process improving their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. It involves a low-fat vegan diet and includes lots of tasty recipes.
Forks Over KnivesA book advocating the benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet. It was written by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., who are both specialists in the prevention and reversal of chronic diseases through dietary adjustment.
Kind DietAlicia Silverstone’s vegan diet.
NutrisystemThey offer a vegetarian option for their popular meal delivery service.
Ornish DietMostly vegetarian except for eggs and some dairy.
Quick and Easy Vegan CookbookThe 30-Minute Vegan is a quick and easy vegan cookbook that includes over 175 recipes that can be prepared in half an hour or less.
Self Healing Colitis and Crohn’sThis vegan diet show’s how these conditions can be treated with diet.
Starch SolutionDr. John McDougall outlines the scientific research in support of the health and weight loss benefits of a starch-based diet.
Thrive Foods Plant Based RecipesA cookbook created by professional Ironman triathlete, Brendan Brazier. The book provides dieters with options for meals that are high in nutrients in relation to their calories.
Veganist: Kathy FrestonIncludes step-by-step instructions that will allow you to gradually adopt a vegan diet to improve your health and support the environment.
Vegetarian Pregnancy DietHighlights the importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy and provides women with the information they need to create a nutritionally balanced vegetarian diet.

Resources – The Vegetarian Society – The Vegetarian Resource Group

By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

  • Le, L. T., Sabaté, J. (2014). Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts. Nutrients, 6(6), 2131-2147. link
  • McEvoy, C. T., Temple, N., Woodside, J. V. (2012). Vegetarian diets, low-meat diets and health: a review. Public health nutrition, 15(12), 2287-2294. link
  • Tantamango-Bartley, Y., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Fan, J., Fraser, G. (2013). Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention, 22(2), 286-294. link

Last Reviewed: April 3, 2017

Watch the video: A Plant-based Diet Changed My Life. Pat McAuley. TEDxBabsonCollege (August 2022).