The Vegetarian Diet

By Hans Diehl, M.D.

The evidence keeps mounting that a vegetarian diet (a diet built around whole-plant foods) is superior to a meat-based diet. Meat is high in fat and cholesterol. It lacks the fiber found in vegetables and fruits as grown and it has none of the antioxidants and phytochemicals needed for good nutrition and health. Around the world, people on vegetarian diets have better health, are thinner, and live longer.

Going To a Vegetarian Diet

Many who have made meat and dairy products the center of their meals feel at a loss when trying to change to a vegetarian diet. For a while meals seem incomplete without flesh foods.

You can satisfy your appetite on a vegetarian diet. It may take a while to adjust, but eventually this way of eating becomes acceptable, and then preferable. Here is a sample menu to get you started planning delicious vegetarian diet selections:

Sample Meat-Less Menu


As you are planning your vegetarian diet, build your meals around the food categories listed below.

  • Cooked cereal (seven-grain cereal) or cold cereal (Shredded Wheat, Nutrigrain) with milk substitute, and half of a banana or other fresh fruit sliced on top.
  • Citrus fruit: orange or grapefruit—peel and eat the whole fruit.
  • Three slices of whole-wheat toast with "mashed" banana topped with pineapple ring or slice of kiwi.
  • Herbal tea.


  • Two whole-wheat pita (pocket) breads stuffed with lettuce, sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and a tofu equivalent to low-fat cottage cheese.
  • Split-pea soup with pearl barley or rice.
  • Fresh fruit such as papaya, pear, apple, or mango.


  • Whole-wheat spaghetti and tomato sauce.
  • Tossed salad with a low-calorie Italian dressing.
  • Slice of whole-grain bread
  • For dessert: baked apple with date and a walnut.

Your Challenge

As you are planning a more natural vegetarian diet, build your meals around the food categories listed below.

Selection Suggestions

Optimal Foods for Vegetarian Diet

  • Fruit: all fresh fruit (use avocadoes and olives sparingly)
  • Vegetables: vegetables, greens, herbs, and squash
  • Legumes: all beans, peas, lentils, garbanzos
  • Tubers: potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes
  • Grains: all whole grains, bread, pasta
  • Nuts: eat sparingly

Optional Foods (if you insist on using dairy, fish, fowl, or beef meat)

  • Dairy: nonfat milk, plain yogurt, skim milk, cheeses, buttermilk, and low-fat cottage cheese in moderation.
  • Eggs: whites only—or replace with Ener-G Egg Replacer powder for binding.
  • Meats: small amounts only of skinless fowl, fish fillet, or lean beef.
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