Eating Healthy Guide

If you follow all of the suggestions in this guide, while tracking your nutrition, it will be almost impossible to eat unhealthily on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Aim to follow all the recommendations, but you will be fine if you don’t eat perfectly healthy all the time.

Also, you will only need to think about following the recommendations for the first few weeks in your new diet. After the first month, you’ll be so used to eating a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet that you’ll barely have to give it any thought!

First, everyone, whether vegetarian or vegan, must follow the recommendations below:

Eat at least 4 servings of whole grains and starches every day.Whole grains provide many nutrients, including iron and zinc.

What are some whole grains?

What makes a serving of whole grains?

  • A half a cup of a grain
  • A cup of cereal
  • A slice of bread

See the cooking section to learn how to cook whole grains and starches, and for recipes that contain them.

Eat at least 3 servings of legumes every day.Legumes provide many nutrients, including protein, iron, and zinc.

What are some legumes?

What makes a serving of legumes?

See the cooking section to learn how to cook legumes, and for recipes that contain them.

Eat at least 4 servings of vegetables every day.Vegetables provide many important nutrients, including calcium, zinc, and iron.

What are some vegetables?

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers

What makes a serving of vegetables?

  • One cup of raw veggies
  • A half a cup of cooked veggies
  • A half a cup of veggie juice

Eat veggies in a salad, or see the cooking section to learn how to cook veggies, and for recipes that contain them.

Eat at least 3 servings of fruit every day.Fruit provides many important nutrients, including vitamin C.

What are some fruits?

  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries

What makes a serving of fruit?

  • A medium sized fruit
  • A cup of chopped fruit
  • A cup of fruit juice

Then, if you are vegetarian:

  • Eat at least three servings of dairy per day.
  • As eggs are a source of protein, you can replace a serving of legumes with a serving of eggs.
  • If you are a pescatarian, meaning you eat fish but no other meats, you can replace one serving of legumes with fish.

If you are vegan:

  • Drink two cups of a plant milk (soy milk, almond milk, etc.) fortified in B12, calcium and vitamin D every day.
  • Eat one tablespoon of omega-3 per day. Canola oil, flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds and walnuts are all good sources of omega-3s.

For both vegetarians and vegans, but especially vegans, I recommend that you take supplements with Vitamin B12, DHA omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D. Also, use iodized salt. Most salt is already iodized, so don’t worry about this.

You can find supplements at grocery stores and health food stores. You can also find them on amazon or vegan essentials.

Overall, eat as little junk food as you can. As a rule, an apple is healthier than apple juice, which is healthier than apple pie. A tomatoes is healthier than tomato sauce, which is healthier than ketchup. A salad is healthier than a plate french fries. Use common sense.

How could a day where you followed all the health recommendations look like?

Let’s see a vegetarian day:

For breakfast, you eat scrambled eggs, toast with butter, and orange juice.  This entire meal provides you with one serving whole grains, one serving of fruit, one serving of eggs (legumes), and one serving of dairy.

For lunch, you eat a veggie burrito. The veggie burrito is made of a tortilla, a cup of beans, half a cup of veggies, half a cup of seitan, half a cup of guacamole, and is topped with cheese. You also drink a cup of milk and eat an apple. Overall, this entire meal provides one serving of whole grains, three servings of legumes, two servings of veggies, one serving of fruit, and two servings of dairy.

For snack, you eat tortilla chips with tomato salsa. This provides one serving of grain, and one serving of fruit.

For dinner, you eat creamy, veggie lasagna. You also eat a brownie. This provides you with two servings of grains, one serving of dairy, and one serving of veggies. The brownie does not provide you with any nutrition, but it tastes good.

In total, you got five servings of whole grains, four servings of legumes and eggs, three servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, and four servings of dairy. You got an extra serving of grains, legumes/eggs, and dairy. You’ll be extra healthy!

Let’s see a vegan day:

For breakfast, you eat whole grain cereal with a cup of almond milk fortified in B12, calcium and vitamin D. You also eat a banana. You put one tablespoon of flaxseed in your cereal to get your omega-3s. Overall, you received one serving of whole grains, one serving of legumes, and one serving of fruit.

For lunch, you eat a veggie burrito. The veggie burrito is made out of a tortilla, a cup of beans, half a cup of veggies, half a cup of seitan, and half a cup of guacamole. You also drink a cup of orange juice and eat an apple. Overall, this entire meal provides one serving of whole grains, three servings of legumes, two servings of veggies, and two servings of fruit.

For snack, you eat tortilla chips and tomato salsa. This meal provides one serving of grain and one serving of fruit.

For dinner, you eat a creamy, veggie lasagna. The cream comes from almond milk. You also eat a vegan brownie. The pasta part of the lasagna provides you with two servings of grains, the almond milk cream provides you with a serving of legumes, and the veggies provide you with a serving of veggies. The brownie does not give you with any nutrition, but it tastes good.

In total, you got five servings of whole grains, five servings of legumes, three servings of veggies, and three servings of fruits. You got extra servings of grains and legumes! You also drank your fortified milk and ate your flaxseed.


Do you want to know how I came up with these recommendations?

I combined the registered dietitians’ recommendations for protein, iron, calcium, B12, vitamin D, omega-3, iodine, zinc, and then I added recommendations from the links in the citations below.

Disclaimer: Do not take this information as medical advice.  I am not an expert in nutrition, but I cite many credentialed doctors and registered dietitians.  Please see a qualified healthcare professional for advice.

“PCRM | Power Plate.” Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine. Web. 05 Aug. 2013. <http://pcrm.org/health/powerplate/>.

Messina, Ginny, MPH, RD, and JL Fields, M.S. “The Plant Plate.” Vegan for Her. Web. 05 Aug. 2013. <http://veganforher.com/nutrition/the-plant-plate/>

Norris, Jack, RD. “Vegan Teens.” Vegan Health. Vegan Outreach. Web. 05 Aug. 2013. <http://veganhealth.org/articles/teens>.

“Food Plate.” Choose Veg. Mercy for Animals. Web. 05 Aug. 2013. <http://www.chooseveg.com/foodplate>.