You are on page 1of 16


A VEGetarian DIET
tasty LOW-FAT,

Presented by Vegetarian Times

and the Physicians Committee
for Responsible Medicine 
vegetarian foods: powerful tools for health
A vegetarian menu is a powerful and pleasurable way to achieve

contents good health. The vegetarian eating pattern is based on a wide

variety of foods that are satisfying, delicious, and healthful.
Vegetarians avoid meat, fish, and poultry. Those who include
THE WHYS AND HOWS dairy products and eggs in their diets are called lacto-ovo
Vegetarian Foods 2
vegetarians. Vegans eat no meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy
products. While there is a considerable advantage to a lacto-ovo
The Protein Myth 4 vegetarian pattern, vegan diets are the most healthful of all,
reducing risk of a broad range of health concerns.
Calcium in a Plant-based Diet 6
A Healthy Heart
What About Milk? 7 Vegetarians have much lower cholesterol found only in plant foods) and low in
levels than meat eaters, and heart disease fat is the best dietary prescription for
The New Four Food Groups 8 is less common in vegetarians. The controlling diabetes. A diet based on
reasons are not hard to find. Vegetarian vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole
Achieving and Maintaining a meals are typically low in saturated fat grains, which is also low in fat and sugar,
Healthy Weight 10 and usually contain little or no choles- can lower blood sugar levels and often
terol. Since cholesterol is found only in reduce or even eliminate the need for
Vegetarian Diet for Pregnancy 11 animal products such as meat, dairy, medication. Since individuals with
and eggs, vegans consume a cholesterol- diabetes are at high risk for heart disease,
Vegetarian Diets for Children 12 free diet. avoiding fat and cholesterol is impor-
The type of protein in a vegetarian tant, and a vegetarian diet is the best
diet may be another important advan- way to do that.
tips for vegetarian diets tage. Many studies show that replacing
animal protein with plant protein lowers Cancer Prevention
The 3-Step Way to Go Veg 3 blood cholesterol levels—even if the A vegetarian diet helps prevent cancer.
amount and type of fat in the diet stays Studies of vegetarians show that death
Tips for Making the Switch 4 the same. Those studies show that a low- rates from cancer are only about one-
fat, vegetarian diet has a clear advantage half to three-quarters of the general
Egg Free! 5 over other diets. population’s cancer-death rates.
Breast cancer rates are dramatically
Dairy Free! 7 Lower Blood Pressure lower in countries where typical diets are
An impressive number of studies, dating plant-based. When women from those
The Veganizer 10 back to the early 1920s, show that countries adopt a Western, meat-based
vegetarians have lower blood pressure diet, their rates of breast cancer soar.
Daily Meal Planning 13 than nonvegetarians. In fact, some Vegetarians also have significantly lower
studies have shown that adding meat to rates of colon cancer than meat eaters.
a vegetarian diet raises blood pressure Colon cancer is more closely associated
low-fat recipes levels rapidly and significantly. A with meat consumption than any other
vegetarian diet also reduces sodium dietary factor.
Recipes for Health 14 intake: When patients with high blood Why do vegetarian diets help protect
pressure begin a vegetarian diet, many against cancer? First, they are lower in
are able to eliminate the need for fat and higher in fiber than meat-based
medication. diets. But other factors are important,
too. Plants contain other cancer-fighting
Controlling Diabetes substances called phytochemicals. For
The latest studies on diabetes show that example, vegetarians usually consume
a vegetarian diet high in complex more of the plant pigments beta-
carbohydrates and fiber (which are carotene and lycopene. This might help


to explain why they have less lung and from the bones. Replacing animal northern latitudes have some difficulty
prostate cancers. Also, some studies have products with plant foods reduces the producing vitamin D year-round.
suggested that diets that avoid dairy amount of calcium lost. This may help Vitamin D can easily be obtained from
products may reduce the risk of prostate to explain why people who live in fortified foods. Some sources are
and ovarian cancers. countries where the typical diet is plant- commercial breakfast cereals, soymilk,
Some of the anticancer aspects of a based have little osteoporosis, even when other supplemental products, and
vegetarian diet cannot yet be explained. calcium intake is lower than that in multivitamins.
For example, researchers are not quite dairy-consuming countries. Regular intake of vitamin B12 is
sure why vegetarians have more of important. Good sources include all
certain white blood cells, called natural Planning Vegetarian Diets common multiple vitamins (including
killer cells, which are able to seek and It’s easy to plan vegetarian diets that vegetarian vitamins), fortified cereals,
destroy cancer cells. meet all your nutrient needs. Grains, some brands of nutritional yeast, and
beans, and vegetables are rich in protein fortified soymilk. It is especially
The Calcium Connection and iron. Green leafy vegetables, beans, important for pregnant women and
Vegetarians are less likely to form either lentils, tofu, corn tortillas, and nuts are breast-feeding mothers to get enough
kidney stones or gallstones. In addition, excellent sources of calcium, as are vitamin B12. When reading food
vegetarians may also be at lower risk for enriched soymilk and fortified juices. labels, look for the word cyanocobala-
osteoporosis because they eat little or no Vitamin D is normally made in the min in the ingredients list. This is
animal protein. A high intake of animal body when sun shines on the skin. the form of vitamin B12 that is best
protein encourages the loss of calcium People who are dark-skinned or live at absorbed by the body.

the 3-step way to go veg

If you are making the switch to a vegetar- are tofu and vegetable stir-fries, veg- grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers
ian diet for its health benefits, you’ll be etable stew, or pasta primavera. instead of grilled chicken in sandwiches.
pleased to find that there is a wonderful Many soups, stews, and casseroles also
additional benefit to vegetarian eating: 2 Second, think of three recipes you can be made into vegetarian dishes with
It’s a delicious and fun way to explore prepare regularly that can easily be a few simple changes.
new foods. A vegetarian meal can be as adapted to a vegetarian menu. For
familiar as spaghetti with marinara example, a favorite chili recipe can be 3 Third, check out some vegetarian
sauce, as comforting as a bowl of rich, made with all of the same ingredients; cookbooks from the library and experi-
potato soup, or as exotic as grilled just replace the meat with beans or ment with the recipes for a week or so
polenta with portobello mushrooms. texturized vegetable protein. Enjoy bean until you find three new recipes that are
The switch to a vegetarian diet is burritos (using canned vegetarian refried delicious and easy to make. Just like that,
easier than you might think. Most people, beans) instead of beef burritos, veggie with minimal changes to your menus, you
whether vegetarians or meat eaters, burgers instead of hamburgers, and will have nine vegetarian dinners.
typically use a limited variety of recipes;
the average family eats only eight or nine
different dinners repeatedly. You can use
a simple, three-step method to come up
with nine vegetarian dinner menus that
you enjoy and can prepare easily.
After that, coming up with vegetarian
options for breakfast and lunch is easy.
Try muffins with fruit spread, cholesterol-
free French toast, or cereal for break-
fasts. Sandwiches, with spreads like
hummus or white bean pate with lemon
and garlic, or dinner leftovers all make
great lunches.

1 First, think of three vegetarian meals Enchiladas in an Instant

Recipe on page 14
that you already enjoy. Common ones 
the protein myth
In the past, some people The Building Blocks of Life The Trouble with Too Much
believed one could never get People build muscle and other body Protein
too much protein. proteins from amino acids, which come The average American diet contains
from the proteins they eat. A varied diet meat and dairy products. As a result, it is
In the early 1900s, Americans were told of beans, lentils, grains, and vegetables often too high in protein. This can lead
to eat well over 100 grams of protein a contains all of the essential amino acids. to a number of serious health problems:
day. And as recently as the 1950s, It was once thought that various plant
health-conscious people were encour- foods had to be eaten together to get • Kidney Disease: When people eat
aged to boost their protein intake. their full protein value, but current too much protein, they take in more
Today, some diet books encourage high- research suggests this is not the case. nitrogen than they need. This places a
protein intake for weight loss, although Many nutrition authorities, including strain on the kidneys, which must expel
Americans already tend to take in twice the American Dietetic Association, the extra nitrogen through urine. People
the amount of protein they need. And believe protein needs can easily be met with kidney disease are encouraged to
while individuals following such a diet by consuming a variety of plant protein eat low-protein diets. Such a diet
have sometimes had short-term success sources over an entire day. To get the reduces the excess levels of nitrogen and
in losing weight, they are often unaware most benefit from the protein you can also help prevent kidney disease.
of the health risks associated with a consume, it is important to eat enough
high-protein diet. Excess protein has calories to meet your energy needs. • Cancer: Although fat is the dietary
been linked with osteoporosis, kidney substance most often singled out for
disease, calcium stones in the urinary increasing cancer risk, protein also plays
tract, and some cancers. a role. Populations that eat meat

tips for making the switch

• Convenience foods cut cooking time. Supermarkets and vegetarian food when dining out. Italian, Chinese, Mexican,
natural foods stores stock a huge array of instant soups and Spanish, Thai, Japanese, and Indian restaurants all offer a wide
main-dish vegetarian convenience items. Many canned soups, variety of vegetarian dishes.
such as minestrone, black bean, or vegetable, are vegetarian. • Texturized vegetable protein (TVP) is fat-free, has
Flavored rice or other grain mixes, like curried rice or tabbou- a texture like ground beef, and is wonderful in tacos, chili,
leh salad, can be stretched into an entrée with a can of beans. and sloppy joes. Look for it in the bulk food section of the
Visit the frozen food section for internationally inspired grocery store.
vegetarian frozen entrées such as corn and bean enchiladas, • Summer barbecues are healthful and fun with meatless
lentil curry, or vegetarian pad thai. Or try vegetarian baked hot dogs and burgers. Or, for a real change of pace, grill thick
beans, refried beans, sloppy joe sauce, and meatless spaghetti slices of marinated vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, or
sauce from the canned goods aisle. tomatoes.
• Ask for it! Even restaurants that don’t offer vegetarian • Check out ethnic groceries for special vegetarian
entrées can usually whip up a meatless pasta or vegetable plate foods. Middle Eastern delis offer stuffed grape leaves, falafel,
if you ask. If attending a catered affair, catch the waiter before and eggplant spreads. Italian markets are a wonderful place to
you are served and ask him or her to remove the chicken breast find hearty homemade breads, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh
from your plate and slip on an extra baked potato. Some pasta. Indian and Asian markets offer many vegetarian
airlines offer vegetarian meals if you ask in advance; or you delicacies also.
can always bring a meal on board with you. • The simplest dishes are often the most satisfying. Brown
• Order your next pizza without cheese but with a rice, gently seasoned with herbs and lemon and sprinkled with
mountain of vegetable toppings. chopped nuts or sunflower seeds, is a perfect dish.
• Find vegetarian cookbooks at your local library or • When traveling, pack plenty of vegetarian
bookstore and have fun experimenting with new foods and snacks like instant soups, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, trail mix,
recipes. granola bars, and homemade oatmeal cookies. Fill a cooler
• International restaurants are the best bets for finding with sandwiches and individual containers of juice and soymilk.


egg g witho
tast s can b ut
y an e
d ea
regularly are at increased risk for colon England found that when people added
cancer, and researchers believe that the about 5 ounces of fish (about 34 grams of
fat, protein, natural carcinogens, and protein) to a normal diet, the risk of

Egg free!
absence of fiber in meat all play roles. forming urinary tract stones increased by
The 1997 report of the World Cancer as much as 250 percent.
Research Fund and American Institute For a long time it was thought that
for Cancer Research, “Food, Nutrition, athletes needed much more protein than Many people choose not to use eggs in
and the Prevention of Cancer,” noted other people. The truth is that athletes, their diets. About 70 percent of the calories
that meaty, high-protein diets were even those who strength train, need only in eggs are from fat, and a big portion of
linked with some types of cancer. slightly more protein, which is easily that fat is saturated. Eggs are also loaded
obtained in the larger servings athletes with cholesterol—about 213 milligrams for
• Osteoporosis and Kidney Stones: require for their higher caloric intake. an average-size egg. Because egg shells
Diets rich in animal protein cause Vegetarian diets are great for athletes. are fragile and porous and conditions on
people to excrete more calcium than To consume a diet that contains egg farms are crowded, eggs are the
normal through their kidneys and enough, but not too much, protein, perfect host for salmonella—the bacteria
increase the risk of osteoporosis. simply replace animal products with that is the leading cause of food poisoning
Countries with lower protein diets have grains, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, in this country.
lower rates of osteoporosis and hip and lentils), and fruits. As long as one is Eggs are often used in baked products
fractures. eating a variety of plant foods in suffi- because of their binding and leavening
Greater calcium excretion increases cient quantity to maintain one’s weight, properties. But smart cooks have found
the risk for kidney stones. Researchers in the body gets plenty of protein. good substitutes for eggs. Try one of the
following the next time you prepare a
recipe that calls for eggs:

• If a recipe calls for just one or two

eggs, you can often skip them. Add a
couple of extra tablespoons of water
for each egg eliminated to balance out
the moisture content of the product.
• Eggless egg replacers are available in
many natural food stores. These are

different from reduced-cholesterol egg
m products, which do contain eggs. Egg
Sa nus replacers are egg-free and are usually in
Me a powdered form. Replace eggs in
baking with a mixture of the powdered
egg replacer and water according to
package directions.
• Use 1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour
Breakfast Banana Buckwheat or cornstarch plus 2 tablespoons of
3 oatmeal pancakes with applesauce Recipe on page 14 water to replace each egg in a baked
topping, calcium-fortified orange juice, product.
fresh fruit Breakfast • Use 1 ounce of mashed tofu in place of
Lunch 1 cup oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins, an egg. Scramble crumbled tofu with
Bean burritos: black beans in corn 1
/2 cup fortified soymilk, 1 slice toast with onions and peppers seasoned with
tortillas, topped with chopped lettuce, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1/2 grapefruit cumin and/or curry to replace eggs in
tomatoes, and salsa, spinach salad with Lunch breakfast dishes.
tahini-lemon dressing Whole-wheat pita stuffed with hummus, • In muffins and cookies, half of a
Dinner sliced tomatoes, and lettuce, carrot sticks mashed banana can be used instead of
Chinese stir-fry over brown rice: tofu Dinner an egg, although it will change the
chunks, broccoli, pea pods, water 1 cup baked beans, baked sweet potato, flavor of the recipe somewhat.
chestnuts, and Chinese cabbage (bok 1 cup steamed collard greens drizzled with • For vegetarian loaves and burgers, use
choy), cantaloupe chunks drizzled with lemon juice, baked apple any of the following to bind ingredi-
fresh lime juice Snack ents together: tomato paste, mashed
Snack Banana soymilk shake potato, moistened bread crumbs, or
Dried figs rolled oats. 
calcium in a plant-based diet
Many people avoid milk We regularly lose calcium from our
because it contains saturated bloodstream through urine, sweat, and

feces. It is renewed with calcium from
fat, cholesterol, allergenic bone or from the diet.
proteins, lactose, and frequent Bones are constantly broken down
traces of contamination, or
to get it
and made anew. Up until the age of 30
simply because they don’t feel or so, we build more bone than we lose.
well after consuming dairy Later, the bones tend to break down
more than build up. The loss of too
(content in milligrams) products. much bone calcium can lead to fragile
Milk is also linked to type 1 (juvenile- bones or osteoporosis.
Vegetables onset) diabetes and other serious How rapidly calcium is lost depends,
Broccoli (1 cup, boiled) 62 conditions. Happily, there are many in part, on the kind and amount of
Brussels sprouts (1 cup, boiled) 56 other good sources of calcium. protein you eat, as well as other diet and
Butternut squash (1 cup, baked) 84 Keeping your bones strong depends lifestyle choices.
Carrots (2 medium, raw) 40 more on preventing the loss of calcium
Cauliflower (1 cup, boiled) 20 from your body than on boosting your Reducing Calcium Loss
Collards (1 cup, boiled) 266 calcium intake. A number of factors affect calcium
Kale (1 cup, boiled) 94 Some cultures consume few or no loss from the body:
Sweet potato (1 cup, baked) 76 dairy products and typically ingest fewer • Diets that are high in protein cause
than 500 milligrams of calcium per day. more calcium to be lost through the
Legumes However, these people generally have urine. Protein from animal products is
Black turtle beans (1 cup, boiled) 102 low rates of osteoporosis. Many much more likely to cause calcium
Chickpeas (1 cup, boiled) 80 scientists believe that exercise and other loss than protein from plant foods.
Great Northern beans (1 cup, boiled) 120 factors have more to do with osteoporo- This may be one reason that vegetar-
Kidney beans (1 cup, boiled) 62 sis than calcium intake does. ians tend to have stronger bones than
Lentils (1 cup, boiled) 38 meat eaters.
Navy beans (1 cup, boiled) 126 Calcium in the Body • Diets high in sodium increase calcium
Pinto beans (1 cup, boiled) 79 Almost all of the calcium in the body is losses in the urine.
Soybeans (1 cup, boiled) 175 in the bones. There is a tiny amount in • Caffeine increases the rate at which
Soymilk (1 cup, calcium-fortified) 368 the bloodstream, which is responsible calcium is lost through urine.
Tofu (1/2 cup, raw, firm) 253 for important functions such as muscle • Smoking increases the loss of calcium
Vegetarian baked beans (1 cup) 86 contraction, maintenance of the from the body.
White beans (1 cup, boiled) 161 heartbeat, and transmission of nerve
Whole Grains
Corn tortilla 42
Rice milk (1 cup, enriched) 300
Wheat bread (1 slice) 26 Black Soybean Tabbouleh
Recipe on page 14
Whole-wheat flour (1 cup) 41

Dried figs (10 figs) 140
Naval orange (1 medium) 60
Orange juice (1 cup, calcium-fortified) 300*
Raisins (2/3 cup) 53

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural

Research Service. 2004. USDA National Nutrient Database
for Standard Reference, Release 17. Nutrient Data Laboratory
Web site:
* package information


A number of factors increase bone Sources of Calcium
building in the body: Exercise and a diet moderate in protein
• Exercise is one of the most important will help to protect your bones. People Pou
a ta ourself
factors in maintaining bone health. who eat plant-based diets and are active
• Exposure to sunlight allows the body probably have lower calcium needs. ll, c
glas old
to make the bone-building hormone However, it is still important to eat (dai s of
vitamin D. calcium-rich foods every day. ry-fr
• Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables The “Where to Get It” chart on page milk ee)
helps to keep calcium in bone. 6 gives the amount of calcium found in
• Consuming calcium from plant-based some excellent plant sources. A quick
sources, especially green vegetables and glance shows how easy it is to meet
beans, provides one of the building calcium needs. The sample menus on

dairy free!
blocks for bone building. page 5 each provide approximately
1,000 milligrams of calcium.

If you are curious whether dairy foods are

what about milk?

contributing to your allergies, skin prob-
lems, asthma, stomach upset, gas, diarrhea,
or constipation, or you’d like to see how
your body feels when it is dairy-free, just
 alcium: Green veg-
•C  ontaminants: Milk
•C  llergies: Milk is one of
give it a try for three weeks. It takes about
etables, such as kale and is frequently contami- the most common causes
three weeks to break or create a habit. And
broccoli, are better than nated with antibiotics and of food allergy. Often the
in that short time, many people experience
milk as calcium sources. contains excess vitamin symptoms are subtle and
major benefits, such as a drop in blood
D. In one study of 42 milk may not be attributed to
cholesterol levels, weight loss, relief from
 at content*: Dairy
•F samples tested, only 12 milk for some time.
allergies, asthma, indigestion, or chronic
products—other than skim percent were within the
stomach problems. Here are some simple
varieties—are high in fat, expected range of vitamin  olic: Milk proteins can
ideas to get you started:
as a percentage of total D content. Of ten samples cause colic, a digestive
calories. of infant formula, seven upset that bothers one in
• Top your oats or cold cereal with fortified
had more than twice five infants. Milk-drinking
rice or almond milk.
• Iron deficiency: Milk is the vitamin D content mothers can also pass
•M  ake smoothies with enriched vanilla
very low in iron. To get reported on the label, and cow’s milk proteins to their
soymilk or drink an ice cold glass of
the U.S. Recommended one had more than four breast-feeding infants.
your favorite soymilk with your meal or
Dietary Allowance of 11 times the label amount.
milligrams of iron, an
• “Leave off the cheese, please.”
infant would have to drink • L actose: Three out of
Fat Content of Order your entrée or salad with no
more than 22 quarts of four people from around
Dairy Products* cheese. Many dishes can be easily made
milk each day. Milk also the world, including an
*based on percentage of cheese-free. Ask for guacamole, rice,
causes blood loss from the estimated 25 percent of
calories from fat or extra salsa in your burrito or on your
intestinal tract, depleting individuals in the United
tostada instead of the cheese. Put more
the body’s iron. States, are unable to
Source Percentage vegetables on a dinner salad or add
digest the milk sugar
Butter 100% some beans, nuts, or baked tofu chunks
 iabetes: In a study of
•D lactose, which then causes
Cheddar cheese 74% instead of cheese.
142 children with diabe- diarrhea and gas. The
Whole milk 49% • Most recipes calling for milk can be
tes, 100 percent had high lactose, when it is digest-
“2%” milk 35% made with soymilk instead. If it’s a
levels of an antibody to ed, releases galactose, a
(It is 2% fat only by weight.) soup or other savory dish, be sure to
a protein in cow’s milk. simple sugar that is linked
purchase plain soymilk for cooking.
It is believed that these to ovarian cancer and
•M  ake creamy dips and desserts using
antibodies may destroy cataracts.
silken tofu in place of sour cream or
the insulin-producing cells
cream cheese.
of the pancreas.
• Sprinkle nutritional yeast on pop-
corn or pasta for a cheesy flavor instead
of Parmesan. 
the new
*Be sure to include a good source of vitamin B12,
such as fortified cereal or a vitamin supplement.
four food groups

Many of us grew up with the

USDA’s old “basic four” food
groups, first introduced in 1956.
The passage of time has seen an increase
in our knowledge about the importance
of fiber, the health risks of cholesterol
and fats, and the disease-preventive
power of many nutrients found
exclusively in plant-based foods. We also
have discovered that the plant kingdom
provides excellent sources of the
nutrients once only associated with meat
and dairy products—namely, protein
and calcium.
The USDA revised its recommenda-
tions with the Food Guide Pyramid, a
plan that reduced the prominence of
animal products and vegetable fats. But

because regular consumption of such
foods—even in lower quantities—poses
serious health risks, PCRM developed
the New Four Food Groups in 1991.
This no-cholesterol, low-fat plan
supplies all of an average adult’s daily
nutritional requirements, including
substantial amounts of fiber.
The major killers of Americans— Fruit
heart disease, cancer, and stroke— 3 or more servings a day
have a dramatically lower incidence Fruits are rich in fiber, vitamin C,
among people consuming primarily and beta-carotene. Be sure to
plant-based diets. Weight problems— include at least one serving each
a contributor to a host of health day of fruits that are high in vitamin
problems—can also be brought under C—citrus fruits, melons, and
control by following the New Four strawberries are all good choices.
Food Groups recommendations. Choose whole fruit over fruit juices,
Try the New Four Food Groups and which do not contain much fiber.
discover a more healthful way to live!
serving size: 1 medium piece of
fresh fruit, 1/2 cup cooked fruit,
4 ounces juice


legumes 4
2 or more servings a day
Legumes, which is another name for
beans, peas, and lentils, are all
good sources of fiber, protein, iron,
calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. This
group also includes chickpeas,
baked and refried beans, soymilk,
tempeh, and texturized vegetable

serving size: 1/2 cup cooked beans,

4 ounces tofu or tempeh, 8 ounces

4 or more servings a day
Vegetables are packed with nutri-
ents; they provide vitamin C, beta-
carotene, riboflavin, iron, calcium,
fiber, and other nutrients. Dark
green leafy vegetables such as
broccoli, collards, kale, mustard
and turnip greens, chicory, or
cabbage are especially good
sources of these important nutrients.
Dark yellow and orange vegetables
such as carrots, winter squash,
sweet potatoes, and pumpkin
provide extra beta-carotene. Include
generous portions of a variety of
vegetables in your diet.

serving size: 1 cup raw vegetables,

/2 cup cooked vegetables

whole grains
5 or more servings a day
This group includes bread, rice,
tortillas, pasta, hot or cold cereal,
corn, millet, barley, and bulgur
wheat. Build each of your meals
around a hearty grain dish—grains
are rich in fiber and other complex
carbohydrates, as well as protein,
B vitamins, and zinc.

serving size: 1/2 cup rice or other

grain, 1 ounce dry cereal,
1 slice bread 
stores the energy of different food types.
It is very inefficient for the body to store
the energy of carbohydrates as body fat.
When your body tries to turn carbohy-
drate into fat, it wastes 23 percent of the
calories of the carbohydrate. But fat is
easily converted into body fat. Only 3
percent of the calories in fat are burned
in the process of conversion and storage.
It is the type of food that affects body
fat the most.
Although protein and carbohydrates

achieving and maintaining

have almost the same number of calories
per gram, foods that are high in

a healthy weight
protein—particularly animal products—
are also usually high in fat. Even “lean”
cuts of meat have much more fat than a
Of the many ways to lose weight, ing a healthy weight. There is no way to healthy body needs. And animal
one stands out as by far the most “lose 20 pounds in two short weeks” products always lack fiber. Fiber helps
healthful. and make it last. Very-low-calorie diets make foods more satisfying without
When you build your meals from a or low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets adding many calories, and it is only
generous array of vegetables, fruits, may cause major health problems and found in foods from plants.
whole grains, and beans—that is, are very difficult to maintain for the Exercise helps, too. Aerobic exercise
healthful vegetarian choices—weight long term. speeds up the breakdown of fat and
loss is remarkably easy. And along with The old myth was that pasta, bread, makes sure that muscle is not lost.
it come major improvements in potatoes, and rice are fattening. Not true. Toning exercises and weight lifting help
cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, In fact, carbohydrate-rich foods are firm muscles and increase muscle mass.
and many other aspects of health. The perfect for permanent weight control. The trick is to find activities that you
message is simple: Cut out the foods Carbohydrates contain fewer than half enjoy and that fit your lifestyle. Walking
that are high in fat and devoid of fiber, the calories of fat, which means that is a good way to start. You can do it
and increase the foods that are low in fat replacing fatty foods with complex anywhere at just about any time.
and full of fiber. This low-fat, vegan diet carbohydrates automatically cuts calories. The best weight control program is a
approach is safe and easy—once you get But calories are only part of the story. high-complex-carbohydrate, low-fat,
the hang of it. The body treats carbohydrates vegetarian diet complemented by regular
Changing eating habits is the differently than fat calories. The exercise. This is the best choice for a
cornerstone of achieving and maintain- difference comes from how the body healthier, longer, happier life.

the veganizer See how to change your regular meals

into low-fat vegan meals.

If your regular breakfast is: Try this breakfast instead: If your typical lunch is: Try this lunch instead:

Cereal with milk Cereal with nonfat soy- or rice milk Turkey sandwich with lettuce, Sandwich with hummus or black
Orange juice Orange juice tomato, and mayo bean spread, lettuce, and tomato
Strawberries Strawberries Yogurt Applesauce
Potato chips Fat-free chips or crackers
Donut Cinnamon raisin toast with jam
Coffee with cream Coffee with nonfat, nondairy creamer Chicken noodle soup Vegetable soup or minestrone
Banana Banana Bread Bread
Green salad with Russian dressing Green salad with fat-free dressing
Scrambled eggs Scrambled low-fat tofu
Home fries Oven-roasted potatoes
Last night’s leftovers (roast beef, Last night’s leftovers (veggie burger,
English muffin English muffin
mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas) mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy,
Sausage Gimme Lean fat-free sausage
Orange corn, and peas)
Hot tea Hot tea
Bagel with cream cheese Bagel plain or with fruit spread Seasoned tofu and sweet potato
Chicken burrito
Latte Soy latte made with nonfat soymilk burrito with lettuce, tomato, and
Refried beans onion (hold the cheese)

10 M a y / j u ne 2 0 0 7
Vegetarian black beans
vegetarian diet
for pregnancy
During pregnancy your need for nutrients increases. For example, you will
require more calcium, more protein, and more folic acid, although your
calorie needs increase only modestly. It is important to eat foods that are
rich in nutrients, but not high in fat or sugar or excessive in calories.
Vegetarian diets, based on nutritious whole foods, are healthful choices
for pregnant women.

Guidelines for Good Health kale, broccoli, beans, figs, sunflower

During Pregnancy seeds, tahini, almond butter, calcium-
• Begin a healthful diet before you fortified soymilk (try Silk or Vitasoy
become pregnant. Your body’s store of brands or others that use whole organic
nutrients supports the early growth soybeans), and calcium-fortified cereals
and development of your baby. and juices.
• Maintain a steady rate of weight gain. Vitamin D: The normal source of
Aim for about three to four pounds vitamin D is sunlight. You’ll want to get at check the ingredient label for cyanoco-
total during the first trimester and least 20 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight balamin, the most absorbable form of
then about three to four pounds each on your hands and face two to three times vitamin B12. Seaweed and products like
month during the second and third weekly. tempeh are generally not reliable sources
trimesters. If you do not get regular sunlight, of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is also in all
• See your health care provider regularly. vitamin D is also available in multiple standard multivitamins and in vegetarian
• Limit empty calories found in highly vitamins and in fortified foods. Many supplements.
processed foods and sweets. Make your brands of ready-to-eat cereals and soy- Iron: Iron is abundant in plant-based
calories count! and rice milks are fortified with diets. Beans, dark green vegetables, dried
vitamin D. fruits, blackstrap molasses, nuts and
Nutrients Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is not found seeds, and whole grain or fortified
To make certain that you are getting in most plant foods. To get enough of breads and cereals all contain plenty of
adequate nutrition, pay particular this important nutrient, be certain to iron. However, women in the second
attention to these nutrients: include vitamin B12-fortified foods in half of pregnancy sometimes need to
Calcium: All of the new four food your daily routine. These foods include take a supplement regardless of the type
groups include foods that are rich in many breakfast cereals, some meat of diet they follow. Your health care
calcium. Be certain to include plenty of substitute products, some brands of provider will discuss iron supplements
calcium-rich foods in your diet. These soymilk, and Vegetarian Support with you.
include tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, Formula nutritional yeast. Be certain to A word about protein... Protein
needs increase by about 30 percent
If your typical dinner is: Try this dinner instead: during pregnancy. While there may be
concern over whether protein intake is
Fettuccine alfredo or spaghetti with Pasta primavera with mixed vegetables and adequate at such an important time,
meatballs garlic or spaghetti with marinara sauce most vegetarian women eat more than
Green salad with ranch dressing Green salad with fat-free balsamic vinaigrette enough protein to meet their needs
Garlic bread with butter Toasted French bread without butter during pregnancy. With ample con-
Butter-pecan ice cream Chocolate sorbet sumption of protein-rich foods such as
Broiled salmon Broiled portobello mushrooms
legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and
Boiled new potatoes with Parmesan cheese Boiled new potatoes with basil and black pepper whole grains, protein needs can easily be
Asparagus with hollandaise Asparagus with orange sauce met during pregnancy.

Hot and sour soup Vegetarian tofu soup Breast-feeding

Beef and broccoli Stir-fried Chinese vegetables (hold the oil)
The guidelines for breast-feeding
Rice Broccoli with garlic sauce
mothers are similar to those for preg-
Lots of rice
nant women. Milk production requires
Chicken fajita Vegetable fajita (hold the oil) more calories, so you will need to boost
Rice Rice your food intake a little bit.

Refried beans Vegetarian black beans
vegetarian diets for

Eating habits are set in early childhood. Vegetarian diets
give your child the chance to learn to enjoy a variety of
wonderful, nutritious foods. They provide excellent nutrition
for all stages of childhood, from birth through adolescence.

Infants taken as directed by your doctor. Breast peas are all good choices.
The best food for newborns is breast- milk or infant formula should be used • Introduce fruits. Try mashed
milk, and the longer your baby is breast- for at least the first year of your baby’s bananas, avocados, strained
fed, the better. If your baby is not being life. peaches, or applesauce.
breast-fed, soy formulas are a good At about 6 months of age, or when • Introduce breads. By 8 months
alternative and are widely available. Do baby’s weight has doubled, other foods of age, most babies can eat
not use commercial soymilk for infants. can be added to the diet. Pediatricians crackers, bread, and dry cereal.
Babies have special needs and require a often recommend starting with an iron- • Introduce protein-rich foods. Also,
soy formula that is developed especially fortified cereal because, at about 4 to 6 by about 8 months, infants can
for those needs. months, infants’ iron stores, which are begin to eat higher protein foods
naturally high at birth, begin to like tofu or beans that have been
decrease. Add one simple new food at a cooked well and mashed.
time, at one- to two-week intervals.
The following guidelines provide a Children and Teens
flexible plan for adding foods to your Children have a high calorie and
baby’s diet. nutrient need but their stomachs are
small. Offer your child frequent snacks.
Teenagers often have high energy
needs and busy schedules. Keeping
Infants do not need any nourishment
other than breast milk or soy formula
for the first six months of life, and they
should continue to receive breast milk
or formula at least throughout their first
12 months. Breast-fed infants also need
about two hours a week of sun exposure
to make vitamin D—a great motivator
for Mom to get back into a walking 5 TO 6 Months
routine. Some infants, especially those • Introduce iron-fortified infant cereal.
who are dark-skinned or who live in Try rice cereal first, mixed with a little
cloudy climates, may not make adequate breast milk or soy formula, since it is
amounts of vitamin D. In these cases, the least likely to cause allergies. Then, delicious, healthful snack choices on
vitamin D supplements may be offer oat or barley cereals. Most hand and guiding teens to make lower
necessary. pediatricians recommend holding off fat selections when eating out will help
Vegetarian women who are breast- on introducing wheat until the child is to steer them away from dining pitfalls
feeding should also be certain to include at least 8 months old, as it tends to be that often cause weight gain and health
good sources of vitamin B12 in their more allergenic. problems for adolescents.
diets, as intake can affect levels in breast Caloric needs vary from child to
milk. Foods fortified with cyanocobala- 6 TO 8 Months child. The guidelines at right are
min, the active form of vitamin B12, can • Introduce vegetables. They should be general ones.
provide adequate amounts of this thoroughly cooked and mashed.
nutrient. A multivitamin may also be Potatoes, green beans, carrots, and



food groups
a mp s
S nu

Ages 1 to 4 Years
Whole Grains Breakfast: Oatmeal with applesauce,
• Whole grains include breads, hot and of beans, tofu, or other item (unless an calcium-fortified orange juice
cold cereals, pasta, cooked grains such amount is specified). Lunch: Hummus on crackers, banana,
as rice and barley, and crackers. • Nondairy milks include breast milk
soymilk, carrot sticks
• One serving equals 1/2 cup of pasta, and soy formula for infants and
grains, or cooked cereal, 3/4 to 1 cup of toddlers, and rice, soy-, and other Dinner: Corn, mashed sweet potatoes,
ready-to-eat cereal, 1/2 bun or bagel, or vegetable-based milks for children at steamed kale, soymilk
1 slice of bread. least 1 year of age. Choose fortified SNACKS: Peach, Cheerios, soymilk
soymilk, such as Westsoy Plus,
Vegetables Enriched VitaSoy, or Edensoy, Ages 5 to 6 Years
• “Dark green vegetables” include whenever possible, or use other
Breakfast: Whole-grain cereal with
broccoli, kale, spinach, collards, turnip, fortified vegetable-based milks.
mustard and beet greens, bok choy, • One serving of nondairy milk equals banana and soymilk, orange wedges
and Swiss chard. 1 cup. Lunch: Tofu-salad sandwich, apple
• “Other vegetables” refers to all other • Nuts include whole or chopped nuts, juice, carrot sticks, oatmeal cookie
vegetables, fresh or frozen, raw or nut butters, whole seeds, and seed Dinner: Baked beans with soy “hot
cooked. butters. dog” pieces, baked potato, spinach,
• One serving of vegetables equals 1/2 cup • One to two servings of nuts may be
soymilk, fruit salad
cooked or 1 cup raw (unless an amount included in a healthful diet, but they
is specified). are optional. One serving of nuts or SNACKS: Trail mix, graham crackers,
nut butters equals 1 tablespoon. soymilk
• Legumes include any cooked bean, Fruit Ages 7 to 12 Years
such as pinto beans, kidney beans, • Fruits include all fruits, fresh or frozen, Breakfast: Strawberry-banana
lentils, split peas, navy beans, and raw or cooked, and fruit juices. smoothie, toast with almond butter,
chickpeas, as well as soy products such • One serving equals 1/2 cup cooked fruit,
calcium-fortified orange juice
as tofu, veggie burgers, soy “hot dogs” 1
/2 cup fruit juice, 1/4 cup dried fruit, or
or sandwich slices, and tempeh. 1 piece of fresh fruit (unless an amount Lunch: Main-Dish Lentil-Vegetable
• One serving of legumes equals 1/2 cup is specified). Soup, green salad, bread
Dinner: Steamed broccoli with nutri-
tional yeast, steamed carrots, oven fries,

daily meal planning Lower Calorie Peanut Butter Cookies,

1- TO 4-Year-Olds 5- TO 6-Year-Olds 7 - TO 12-Year-Olds 13- TO 19-Year-Olds SNACKS: Popcorn, figs, soy “ice cream”

4 servings 6 servings 7 servings 10 servings Ages 13 to 19 Years

Breakfast: Bagel with apple butter,
2 to 4 tablespoons 1
/4 cup dark green 1 serving dark green 1 to 2 servings dark
banana, calcium-fortified orange juice

dark green vegetables vegetables vegetables green vegetables

Lunch: Bean burrito with lettuce,
/4 to 1/2 cup other
1 1
/4 to 1/2 cup other 3 servings other 3 servings other
vegetables vegetables vegetables vegetables tomato, and guacamole; rice, baked
tortilla chips, and salsa
/4 to 1/2 cup
1 1
/2 to 1 cup legumes 2 servings legumes 3 servings legumes Dinner: Braised broccoli, carrots,

3 servings soymilk or 3 servings soymilk or 2 to 3 servings yellow squash, and mushrooms; spaghetti
other nondairy milk other nondairy milk soymilk or other
with marinara sauce; cucumber salad;
nondairy milk
SNACKS: Hummus and baby carrots,

/4 to 1 1/2 cups
1 to 2 cups 3 servings 4 servings
fruit smoothie, Luna or Clif Bar 13
Enchiladas in an Instant
Serves 6 l Vegan l 30 minutes or fewer

The stir-together filling of these healthful

enchiladas gets a fresh flavor boost from
diced red onion and chopped cilantro.
Makes 12 enchiladas.

2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained

and rinsed
Banana Buckwheat 1 cup frozen corn kernels
Pancakes /4 cup prepared salsa, divided

/2 cup diced red onion

Serves 6 (makes 18 3-inch pancakes) l Vegan
12 8-inch flour tortillas, preferably
Egg replacer keeps these breakfast treats whole-wheat
tender without dairy or extra oil. 1 Hass avocado, peeled and diced
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro Black Soybean Tabbouleh
2 cups plain soymilk, divided
Serves 4 l Vegan l 30 minutes or fewer
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice 1. Combine, beans, corn, 3 Tbs. salsa
1 cup buckwheat flour and onion in large bowl. Season to taste Canned black soybeans, high in protein
1 cup flour with salt and pepper. and fiber, replace the traditional bulgur.
11/2 tsp. baking powder 2. Spread about 1/3 cup filling across top Combining them with crunchy, high-
/2 tsp. salt
third of each tortilla. Roll up, and set fiber fresh veggies makes a perfect lunch.
/4 tsp. baking soda
seam-side down on microwavable
2 tsp. egg replacer powder platter. Repeat to assemble remaining 1 15-oz. can black soybeans, rinsed
2 Tbs. canola oil enchiladas. and drained
1 Tbs. maple syrup, plus more for 3. Spread a thick ribbon of salsa along 2 large plum tomatoes, seeded and
serving the length of each tortilla. Heat in chopped
2 bananas, thinly sliced microwave on high power 3 to 5 1 medium-size green bell pepper,
minutes, or until hot. Sprinkle with seeded and chopped
1. Mix 13/4 cups soymilk with lemon diced avocado and cilantro, and serve. 1 packed cup chopped Italian
juice in small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. PER SERVING: 325 CAL; 12.5 G PROT; 5 G TOTAL parsley leaves
2. Combine flours, baking powder, salt FAT (0.5 G SAT. FAT); 61 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 933 Juice of 1 lemon
and baking soda in medium bowl. MG SOD; 33 G FIBER; 4 G SUGAR 1 tsp. salt
3. Whisk egg replacer and remaining 1/4 /8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste

cup soymilk in small bowl. Add to 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
soymilk mixture. Whisk in oil and 1 packed cup mint leaves, cut
syrup. into thin strips
4. Stir flour mixture into soymilk
mixture. Fold in bananas. 1. Combine soybeans, tomatoes, bell
5. Lightly oil griddle, and heat over pepper and parsley in mixing bowl.
medium heat. Pour 2 Tbs. batter onto 2. In small bowl, whisk lemon juice
griddle for each pancake, and cook 2 with salt and cayenne. Mix in oil. Pour
minutes, or until batter bubbles and over bean mixture; toss well. Mix in
pancakes begin to brown around edges. mint. Let sit 20 minutes so flavors meld.
Flip, and cook 2 minutes more. Serve Will keep in refrigerator 24 hours,
with maple syrup. tightly covered.
FAT (0.5 G SAT. FAT); 44 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; FAT (0.5 G SAT. FAT); 20 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL;


Lower Calorie
Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes about 60 cookies l Vegan

30 minutes or fewer
These are very tender cookies, and they
break easily, so handle carefully.

1 cup creamy, well-stirred peanut

Main-Dish butter, preferably all-natural
Lentil-Vegetable Soup 1 cup apple juice concentrate,
thawed and undiluted
Serves 4 l Vegan
Asian Pear Salad with /2 cup sucralose-type sweetener

Fennel and Pistachios This flavorful soup with its protein-rich 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Serves 6 l Vegan l 30 minutes or fewer

lentils is substantial enough to enjoy as a 1 cup whole-wheat flour
main dish. One note: Even though most 11/2 tsp. baking soda
To slice an Asian pear into matchsticks, lentils today are picked clean, sort
stand it on a cutting board and cut it through them just in case to remove any 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray
into thin slices on each side of the core. debris. To add some greens with no 2 baking sheets with cooking spray, or
Lay the slices flat on top of one another extra cooking, chop some baby spinach, line with baking parchment, and set
and cut into thin strips. and stir it in just before serving. The aside.
heat from the soup will just wilt the 2. Mix peanut butter, apple juice,
4 Asian pears, cut into matchsticks spinach. sweetener, and vanilla until blended but
(3 cups) not smooth. In second bowl, whisk
1 bunch watercress, trimmed 1 Tbs. olive oil together flour and baking soda, and fold
(2 cups) 1 medium-size yellow onion, into peanut butter mixture. Stir until
1 medium-size fennel bulb, thinly chopped thick. Drop dough by rounded tea-
sliced (2 cups) 2 cloves garlic, minced spoons onto baking sheets, about 2
1 small red bell pepper, diced 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and inches apart. Use fork dipped in flour to
(1 cup) cut into 1/4-inch dice make crisscross marks on top of each
4 green onions, sliced (1/4 cup) 1 parsnip, peeled and cookie.
/4 cup chopped pistachios
cut into 1/4-inch dice 3. Bake 12 minutes, or until light
3 Tbs. fresh lime juice 1 small celery root, peeled and brown. Remove from oven; cool on
2 Tbs. vegetable oil cut into 1/4-inch dice sheets.
1 1/4 cups dried brown lentils, sorted PER COOKIE: 40 CAL; 1 G PROT; 2 G FAT (0 G
1. Combine pears, watercress, fennel, and rinsed SAT. FAT); 5 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 50 MG SOD;
bell pepper, green onions, and pistachios 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth <1 G FIBER; 0G SUGAR
in large salad bowl. or water
2. Whisk together lime juice and 1 Tbs. low-sodium tamari
vegetable oil in small bowl. Season with minced fresh parsley for garnish
salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad,
and toss to coat. Adjust seasonings if 1. Heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart pot over
necessary, and serve. medium heat. Add onion and garlic.
PER SERVING: 127 CAL; 3 G PROT; 7 G TOTAL Cover, and cook 5 minutes to soften.
FAT (1 G SAT. FAT); 16 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; Add carrots, parsnip, celery root, lentils,
125 MG SOD; 3 G FIBER; 2 G SUGAR broth, tamari, and season with salt and
2. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook,
stirring from time to time, until lentils
and vegetables are tender, 1 to 11/2
hours. Taste and adjust seasonings, if
necessary. Garnish with parsley, and
For more recipes, visit
FAT (0.5 G SAT. FAT); 65 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL;
450 MG SOD; 19 G FIBER; 12 G SUGAR 15
by the Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine and Vegetarian Times magazine. Contact
PCRM at 5100 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Suite 400,
Washington, DC 20016, 202-686-2210. PCRM
consists of approximately 6,000 physicians and
100,000 lay members. PCRM promotes nutrition,
preventive medicine, ethical research practices, and
compassionate medical policy.


intended as individual medical advice. Persons with
medical conditions or who are taking medications
should discuss any diet and lifestyle changes with
their health professional.
Readers are welcome to reproduce articles from
this publication for personal or educational use
without additional permission. Material should not
be reproduced for resale. © PCRM and Vegetarian
Times, 2007. Visit PCRM’s Web site:

Note to the Reader: This booklet does not take the place of
individualized medical care or advice. If you are overweight,
have any health problems, or are on medication, you should
consult with your doctor before making any changes in your Presented by Vegetarian Times
diet or exercise routines. A diet change can alter your need for and the Physicians Committee for
medication. For example, individuals with diabetes, high blood Responsible Medicine
pressure, or high cholesterol levels often need less medication
when they improve their diets. With any dietary change, it is
important to ensure complete nutrition. Be sure to include a
source of vitamin B12 in your routine, which could include any
common multivitamin, fortified soymilk or cereals, or a vitamin
B12 supplement of 5 micrograms or more per day.