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What is a Vegetarian Diet? 

A Vegetarian Diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including poultry), seafood, or products containing these foods. The eating patterns of vegetarians may vary considerably.


Well-planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide preventative health benefits. The fact is, eating a more plant-based diet can boost your health, whether you’re a vegetarian or not!  

What foods can I eat on a Vegetarian Diet? 

A vegetarian diet focuses on plant and plant-based foods. These include: fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds and nuts. There is no single type of vegetarian diet. Instead, vegetarian eating patterns usually fall into the following groups:

  • The vegan (or total vegetarian) eating pattern includes only foods from plants (fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans and peas), grains, seeds and nuts) and excludes meat and animal products (including eggs and dairy products).  

  • The lacto-vegetarian eating pattern includes plant foods plus dairy products (including cheese), but excludes eggs as well as meat, fish, and fowl. 

  • The lacto-ovo vegetarian eating pattern includes plant foods plus both dairy products and eggs.

  • The semi-vegetarian eating pattern includes plant foods plus dairy products, eggs, chicken and fish, but excludes red meat.


People who follow vegetarian diets can get all the nutrients they need. However, they must be careful to eat a wide variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs.
 

How do I start my new Vegetarian Lifestyle? 

Becoming a vegetarian will certainly require some adjustments, but it should not be overly restrictive or boring. Many meals that typically contain meat or poultry can easily be made Vegetarian. First, we recommend going home and checking out the vegetarian-friendly protein sources that you already may have in your kitchen and pantry.


 


Soy Products  

SERVING

PROTEIN 

Edamame 

½ cup

8.4

Soy Milk 

1 cup

9.2

Tempeh 

½ cup

15.4

Tofu - firm 

½ cup

10.2

Legumes  

SERVING

PROTEIN 

Black Beans - cooked 

½ cup

7.6

Garbanzos (Chick Peas) - cooked 

½ cup

7.3

Kidney Beans - cooked 

½ cup

7.7

Lentils - cooked 

½ cup

8.9

Peanut Butter 

2 Tbsp

8.0

Peanuts - dry roasted 

⅓ cup

11.4

Pinto Beans - refried 

½ cup

6.4

Nuts & Seeds  

SERVING

PROTEIN 

Almonds 

¼ cup

7.6

Cashews 

¼ cup

5.2

Pecans 

¼ cup

2.3

Pistachios 

¼ cup

6.4

Pumpkin seeds - roasted 

¼ cup

8.8

Sunflower Seeds 

¼ cup

6.2

Walnuts - chopped 

¼ cup

4.5

Grains 

SERVING

PROTEIN 

Bread - whole wheat 

2 slices

7.3

Buckwheat - groats roasted 

1 cup

5.7

Corn 

1 cup

5.4

Flour Tortilla 

1 medium

4.0

Oatmeal - boiled 

1 cup

5.9

Quinoa - cooked 

1 cup

8.1

Rice - brown, medium grain 

1 cup

4.5

Seitan 

3 oz

31.0

Spaghetti - whole wheat 

1 cup

7.5

Vegetables 

SERVING

PROTEIN 

Baked Potato 

1 medium

4.3

Broccoli - cooked, chopped 

1 cup

3.6

Kale - cooked, shredded 

1 cup

2.5

Animal Products 

SERVING

PROTEIN 

Egg - hard boiled 

1 large

6.3

Milk - fat free or skim 

1 cup

8.4

Tuna 

3 oz

21.7



 

Grocery Shopping… 

When shopping for a vegetarian diet, opt for minimally processed foods for balanced meals and snacks, following Retrofit’s guiding principles of the 50-25-25 plate at meals and produce & protein at snacks.

1) Start your shopping trip with the fresh produce section. There are no worries when shopping for non-starchy veggies! Stock up on fresh vegetables, which are naturally nutrient rich, low-fat, and low-sodium. (NOTE: This is often where you’ll also find refrigerated vegetarian products, such as tofu, cheeses, yogurts, milk-substitutes, and meatless meats.).  Some fruits can fit into your plate too within the 25% carbs section of the balanced plate.

2) If you’re thinking of including poultry or seafood in your diet, then head into the fresh meat, poultry, and seafood section. (If not, skip to #3!)

3) After the meat section, it’s time to visit the egg and dairy sections of the grocery store if you’re thinking of including these items in your diet. (If not, skip to #4!)

4) Within the inner aisles of the grocery store, look for:

  • Dried or canned Beans and Legumes

  • Nuts and Seeds

  • Grains

  • Spices and Herbs 

Many grocery stores have started to stock more products that are specifi­cally vegetarian. Check out the “organic” or “health food” section for additional products. And most grocery stores typically have vegetarian foods in their frozen food section.


Can I enjoy eating at restaurants? 

Being on a Vegetarian diet does not mean that you will never be able to eat at a restaurant again.  Dining out is a big part of our way of life and with a little effort and planning, it can continue to be enjoyed.  

Before leaving home, do your homework.  Most restaurants have a website, so you can review the menu online to see if there are vegetarian options available.  Some restaurants have a Vegetarian menu to order from: Uno’s Chicago Grill, PF Chang’s, Chili’s, Chipotle, Noodle & Company, and many others.  When you are ordering, do not be afraid to ask how the food is prepared.  Be pleasant and informative, if questions arise.


Are all Vegetarian foods healthy? 

Vegetarian diets are often associated with a number of health advantages including: lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels, and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower overall cancer rates. The nutritional differences (lower saturated fat and cholesterol, higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals) may explain some of the health advantages of those following a varied, balanced vegetarian diet. However, vegans and some other vegetarians may have lower intakes of vitamin B-12, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.  



Use Retrofit’s guiding principles for creating healthy meals & snacks: 

·       50-25-25 Approach to Meals:

50% non-starchy vegetables

25% lean protein

25% carbs (whole grain, starchy veggies, fruit, dairy)

·       Produce & Protein at Snacks:

Produce foods include - fruits and vegetables

Protein foods include - legumes, nuts & nut butters, soy products and dairy



 
 

VEGETARIAN SAMPLE DAY:  


Breakfast:

Oatmeal with ½ cup blueberries and 2 Tbsp Sliced Almonds


Morning Snack:

Non-Fat Greek Yogurt and 2 Tbsp Low-Fat Granola


Lunch:

Southwest Salad

(Salad vegetables, ½ cup black beans, ¼ cup corn, ¼ cup salsa, and 2 Tbsp Guacamole)


Afternoon Snack:

100 calorie pack of Almonds and Apple


Dinner:

Grilled Tofu with Steamed Vegetables and Herbed Quinoa


Dessert (optional):

½ cup Frozen Kefir topped with ½ cup fresh berries



HELPFUL RESOURCES:
The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics – Vegetarian Lifestyle
Choose My Plate –
 Tips for Vegetarians

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