What is a healthy vegetarian diet?
A healthy vegetarian diet includes more than just veggies and involves good planning.
Steps to planning a healthy vegetarian diet:
- Use Canada’s Food Guide to help you plan your meals.
- Choose a variety of healthy foods each day including vegetables and fruits, protein foods, and whole grain foods.
- Choose plant-based protein foods such as beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, soy products and unsweetened fortified soy beverage. This will make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs.
Some nutrients are harder to get from vegetarian diets. Careful planning will help to ensure you include vegetarian or vegan sources of the following key nutrients. Note: not all examples will be appropriate for all vegetarian diets.
Found in foods like milk and dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products, beans and lentils.
Found in foods like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy products, certain fruits (e.g. prunes, raisins, apricots), certain dark green vegetables (e.g. collards, okra, bok choy), blackstrap molasses and whole grain or fortified cereals, breads and pastas.
Found in foods like milk, some fortified plant-based beverages, fortified orange juice and tofu (made with calcium). Not all plant-based beverages are fortified with calcium. To see if a product contains calcium, check the Nutrition Facts on the food label.
Found in foods like cow’s milk, some fortified plant-based beverages, fresh or canned fatty fish and egg yolks. Not all plant-based beverages are fortified with vitamin D. To see if a product contains vitamin D, check the Nutrition Facts on the food label.
Found in foods like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains and yogurt.
Found in foods like cheese, eggs, some fortified plant-based beverages and meat substitutes (e.g. textured vegetable protein), and Red Star nutritional yeast. Not all plant-based beverages or meat substitutes are fortified with vitamin B12. Check To see if a product contains vitamin B12, check the Nutrition Facts on the food label.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Found in omega-3 eggs, fortified yogurt, soybeans, tofu, walnuts, ground flax seed and certain oils (e.g. canola, flax seed, soybean, walnut).
Some of the examples listed do not fit in all types of vegetarian diets. If you are worried that you or your family are missing any key nutrients, contact a Registered Dietitian to help you plan a healthy vegetarian diet.