Disclaimer:  All information on this site is for informational purposes only.  Before using any alternative remedy, begin any new exercise routine or otherwise start trying any of the recipes included on these pages, check with your primary health provider.  Many herbs, foods, and exercises can conflict with medications you are taking or have unknown side effects.

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Plan a Vegetarian Meal

Vegetarians fall into three categories, Lacto-ovo, lacto and vegans.  Lacto-ovo vegetarians exclude all meats from their diets, but will also eat dairy products and eggs. Lacto vegetarians will eat dairy products but do not eat eggs. A vegan does not eat dairy, eggs or any product that comes from an animal. Planning a vegetarian menu is not difficult, but does take some additional thought.

Protein Substitutes

Getting enough protein is the major concern when giving up meat in the diet. Luckily, there is an abundance of other foods available that can and does replace meat in the protein department. Tofu, TVP, beans, some vegetables and nuts all contain protein. By combining different combinations of protein substitutions throughout the day, you will get the protein you need and a balance of amino acids that are required for a healthy lifestyle.

Iron Needs

The body needs around 18mg of Iron daily. Iron found in plants is much harder for the body to absorb. While plants such as such as leafy green vegetables are high in iron content, the type of iron needs a boost from vegetables high in vitamin C to utilize the iron. Coffee, tea and calcium can inhibit iron absorption from plants and should be used in moderation.


Vitamin B-12 is generally not much of a concern in the vegetarian diet unless you are following the vegan lifestyle.  Plan to add fortified cereals and soymilk to your diet if you avoid all animal products. Older vegetarians of any category, because the body slows down on B-12 absorption, should include these items in their diet even if they eat eggs and cheese.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Both calcium and Vitamin D are necessary in the vegetarian diet.  Calcium is dependant upon vitamin D for proper absorption. Good sources of calcium are tofu (if processed with calcium sulfate, read the label to be sure), soymilk and many fruit juices. Vitamin D is absorbed into the body through sunlight exposure of 5 to 15 minutes a day and can also be found in eggs, fortified cereals and cow or soy milk.

Putting It All Together

A good vegetarian diet will include a wide variety of vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits.  When planning meals, choose foods that are low in fat and are fortified with vitamins and minerals.   There are a number of vegetarian alternatives available for meat products available at health food stores and some grocery stores. Read labels carefully and consult the Vegetarian Food Pyramid listed in the Resources below to insure that you are eating enough of each type of food daily. 

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