Healthy Eating for Vegetarians
10 Tips for Vegetarians
Whether you want to become a vegetarian full time or simply want to use vegetarian dishes to cut back on eating meat, eating vegetarian can be a healthy option. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie and nutrient needs.
Think about protein
Your protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant foods. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans, peas, nuts and soy products (such as tofu or tempeh). Lacto-ovo vegetarians also get protein from eggs and dairy foods.
Bone up on sources of calcium
Calcium is used for building bones and teeth. Some vegetarians consume dairy products, which are excellent sources of calcium. Other sources of calcium for vegetarians include calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage), tofu made with calcium sulfate, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals, orange juice, and some dark-green leafy vegetables (collard, turnip, and mustard greens; and bok choy).
Make simple changes
Many popular main dishes are or can be vegetarian — such as pasta primavera, pasta with marinara or pesto sauce, veggie pizza, vegetable lasagna, tofu-vegetable stir-fry and bean burritos.
Enjoy a cookout
For barbecues, try veggie or soy burgers, soy hot dogs, marinated tofu or tempeh and fruit kabobs. Grilled veggies are great, too!
Include beans and peas
Because of their high nutrient content, consuming beans and peas is recommended for everyone, vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Enjoy some vegetarian chili, three bean salad, or split pea soup. Make a hummus filled pita sandwich.
Try different veggie versions
A variety of vegetarian products look — and may taste — like their non-vegetarian counterparts but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol. For breakfast, try soy-based sausage patties or links. For dinner, rather than hamburgers, try bean burgers or falafel (chickpea patties).
Make some small changes at restaurants
Most restaurants can make vegetarian modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces or nonmeat items, such as tofu and beans for meat, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. Ask about available vegetarian options.
Nuts make great snacks
Choose unsalted nuts as a snack and use them in salads or main dishes. Add almonds, walnuts or pecans instead of cheese or meat to a green salad.
Get your vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products. Vegetarians should choose fortified foods such as cereals or soy products, or take a vitamin B12 supplement if they do not consume any animal products. Check the Nutrition Facts label for vitamin B12 in fortified products.
Find a vegetarian pattern for you
Go to www.dietaryguidelines.gov and check appendices 8 and 9 of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 for vegetarian adaptations of the USDA food patterns at 12 calorie levels.
Cooking with Tofu and Soy
Tofu is one of the ultimate convenience foods – quick and easy to use in a wide variety of dishes. It is highly nutritious and easily digested. Tofu is made by coagulating fresh soymilk to form curds, in much the same way that cottage cheese is made from cow’s milk. The curds are pressed to expel excess liquid and then formed into blocks of tofu. Learn more about cooking with tofu.
Soy foods can protect your health against diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis and even heart disease. It’s easy to substitute some of your usual cooking ingredients for soy products. There are many other different ways to incorporate soy into your everyday meals. Find out more tips on cooking with soy.