Tips for Making the Switch to a Vegetarian Diet

The Physicians Committee
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Switching to a Vegetarian Diet

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

Sample Menus

Breakfast
3 oatmeal pancakes with applesauce topping, calcium-fortified orange juice, fresh fruit

Lunch
Black bean burritos

Dinner
Chinese stir-fry over brown rice: tofu chunks, broccoli, pea pods, water chestnuts, and Chinese cabbage (bok choy), cantaloupe chunks drizzled with fresh lime juice

Snack
Dried figs

Breakfast
1 cup oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins, 1/2 cup fortified soymilk, 1 slice toast with 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1/2 grapefruit

Lunch
Whole wheat pita stuffed with hummus, sliced tomatoes, and lettuce, carrot sticks

Dinner
1 cup baked beans, baked sweet potato, 1 cup steamed collard greens drizzled with lemon juice, baked apple

Snack
Banana soymilk shake

 

 

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