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Getting started with vegetarian meal planning

  • Choose a variety of foods, including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and, if desired, dairy products and eggs.
  • Try gradually decreasing the amount of animal protein to allow time to adjust to a plant-based diet.
  • Substitute soy products (tofu, meat substitutes) and legumes for meat, poultry and fish.
  • When using soy products, choose lower-fat versions, such as low fat soy milk and reduced-fat tofu.
  • If you use milk products and eggs, choose lower-fat versions of these foods, such as skim or 1% milk and yogurt, and egg whites or egg substitutes.
  • If you are a vegan, be sure to include a regular source of vitamin B-12 in your diet along with a source of vitamin D if sun exposure is limited.
  • Use fats sparingly; choose unsaturated fats, such as olive, canola and peanut oils, nuts and seeds, instead of saturated fats, such as butter, margarine and cream cheese.
  • Limit your intake of high-fat foods, such as cheeses, whole milk, nuts, seeds, avocados and oils, especially if you are trying to lose weight.Be sure to count the carbohydrates in foods – many vegetarian diets can be very high in carbohydrate. Keep your carbohydrate intake consistent and read food labels carefully for their carbohydrate content.
  • It’s important to monitor your blood glucose regularly if you are changing to a vegetarian diet. Your diabetes medication or insulin dose may need to be adjusted, especially if you are eating more carbohydrate than before.

Page last updated: September 23, 2014