Vegetarian Diets

Many foods in the vegetarian diet (nuts, legumes, seeds, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables) contain large amounts of fiber, which give a feeling of fullness (satiation) after meals. Vegetarian eating plans may provide significant health benefits including lowering rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. A vegetarian diet is usually low in cholesterol and saturated fat due to the high amount of grains, fruits, and vegetables and the elimination of meats. In addition, a vegetarian diet may have some advantages for people with diabetes. These advantages include:

  • Helping to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

  • Promoting a healthy weight.

  • Improving blood glucose control and insulin response.

  • Reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.

TYPES OF VEGETARIAN DIETS

Vegans. These are vegetarians who consume only plant food. No animal foods of any kind are eaten. Anyone following such a diet will need to select fortified foods or take a vitamin B12 supplement. Vegans also may need a vitamin D supplement if sun exposure is limited. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D that can be chosen as well.

Lacto-vegetarians. These are vegetarians who eat dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt) in addition to plant foods. They do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians. These are vegetarians who eat plant foods, eggs, and dairy products, but do not eat meat, fish, or poultry.

LIMITING PROTEINS

Meals should be planned to provide adequate sources of proteins as they may be limited in an unbalanced vegetarian diet. Good sources of proteins include beans or legumes, soy products, nuts, seeds, eggs, milk, and cheese. The list below includes food sources of protein. Your Registered Dietitian can help you determine your individual protein needs.

Beans and Peas (Dried and Cooked)

Each serving represents 7 to 8 grams of protein.

  • Black beans, 1 cup.

  • Black-eyed peas, 1 cup.

  • Calico, 1 cup.

  • Garbanzo, chickpeas, ⅔ cup.

  • Kidney beans, 1 cup.

  • Lentils, 1 cup.

  • Lima beans, 1 cup.

  • Mung beans, 2 cups.

  • Navy beans, ⅔ cup.

  • Pinto beans, ⅔ cup.

  • Split peas, ⅔ cup.

  • Split pea soup, 1 cup.

Meat Substitutes

Each serving represents 7 to 8 grams of protein.

  • Bacon substitute, 2 tbs.

  • Hummus, ¼ cup.

  • Soybeans, ⅓ cup.

  • Textured vegetable protein, ¾ oz.

  • Tofu (2½ inch x 2¾ inch x 1 inch cube), ½ cup (4 oz).

Nuts and Seeds

Each serving represents 7 to 8 grams of protein.

  • Almonds, dry-roasted, ¼ cup (1 oz).

  • Brazil nuts, ¼ cup (1 oz).

  • Butternuts, ¼ cup (1 oz).

  • Peanuts, roasted, ¼ cup (1 oz).

  • Pecans, ¼ cup (1 oz).

  • Pignolias, pine nuts, 2 tbs.

  • Pistachios, 60 nuts (1 oz).

  • Pumpkin or squash seeds, ¼ cup.

  • Sunflower seeds (no hull), ¼ cup.

  • Sunflower seeds (with hulls), ½ cup.

  • Walnuts, ¼ cup (1 oz).

Milk/Milk Substitutes

Each serving represents 7 to 8 grams of protein.

  • Soy milk, fortified, 1 cup.

  • Goat milk, 1 cup.

  • Kefir, 1 cup.

SAMPLE MEAL PLAN - 2000 CALORIES

  • Carbohydrate: 276 grams (55% of total calories).

  • Protein: 95 grams (19% of total calories).

  • Fat: 60 grams (26% of total calories).

Breakfast

  • Skim milk, 1 cup (8g*).

  • Orange juice, ½ cup.

  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast (3g).

  • Flaked corn cereal, ¾ cup (3g).

  • Margarine, 2 tsp.

Morning snack

  • 1 apple or 6 whole-wheat crackers (3g).

Noon meal

  • Skim milk, 1 cup (8g).

  • Cottage cheese, ¼ cup (8g).

  • 1 medium orange.

  • 1 pita bread filled with ½ cup garbanzo spread, chopped tomatoes, onions, and lettuce (15g).

  • Tahini sauce, 1 tsp.

Afternoon snack

  • ½ banana.

  • 4 light, crispy rye crackers (3g).

Evening meal

  • Green salad with bean sprouts (4g).

  • Pineapple with juice, ⅓ cup.

  • Spaghetti, ½ cup (3g).

  • Lentil spaghetti sauce, 1 cup (3g).

  • French dressing, 1 tbs.

Evening snack

  • Skim milk, 1 cup (8g).

  • Peanuts, ¼ cup (7g).

  • Popcorn (lightly salted, no butter), 3 cups (3g).

* Grams of protein.