If you follow a vegetarian diet, you'll be less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, hypertension, type-2 diabetes or high blood cholesterol, advises the American Dietetic Association. According to a 2013 study that compared plant-based diets to those that include animal products, a vegetarian diet may also help you lose weight and keep it off. Before beginning a 1,500-calorie vegetarian diet plan, talk to your doctor for additional nutrition information.
Enjoy Fruits and Vegetables With Every Meal
For breakfast, try vitamin-fortified oatmeal prepared with low- or nonfat milk and mixed with fresh blueberries. At lunch, have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread along with raw carrot sticks and a glass of milk, followed by a dinner of seasoned red beans on brown rice paired with a mix of grilled vegetables. Have a piece of whole fruit, fresh vegetables or cottage cheese when you need a snack during the day.
Go for Low- or Nonfat Milk or Soy Milk
Start the day with a slice of whole-wheat toast spread with nut butter and a fruit smoothie. Lunchtime might feature cooked beans, salsa, avocado and your choice of vegetables wrapped into a whole-wheat tortilla and served with steamed leafy greens and a glass of milk or calcium-fortified soy milk. Dinner could be brown rice topped with a vegetable and tofu stir-fry, followed by a dessert of fresh fruit. Have some high-fiber, sugar-free cereal with milk or soy milk during snack time.
Eat Plenty of Beans for Protein
After a breakfast of milk and a cup of sliced fresh fruit, have a lunch of whole-wheat crackers and lentil soup along with milk and a piece of whole fruit like a nectarine. For an afternoon snack, pair raw vegetable sticks with a homemade bean dip. At dinner, have whole-wheat pasta tossed with pesto, steamed vegetables and a salad of tossed mixed greens.
Have Eggs in Moderation
An egg poached or baked over a combination of sauteed vegetables and paired with a glass of low- or nonfat milk could serve as breakfast, while lunch could be a slice of whole-wheat pizza topped with reduced-fat cheese along with another serving of milk. Eat a piece of whole fruit for your snack, then have a dinner of braised or sauteed tofu served with whole-wheat couscous, a green vegetable like green beans and a fruit salad.
Experiment with Low-Fat Soy Products
For breakfast, have oatmeal sprinkled with wheat germ, fresh fruit and milk. If you'd like a midmorning snack, go for low-fat regular or soy yogurt. A green salad topped with plenty of your favorite fresh vegetables along with mixed slices of fruit could be lunch. Have whole-wheat pasta topped with soy-based, meat-free meatballs or faux ground beef crumbles and marinara sauce for dinner along with steamed vegetables and fruit. Baked tortilla chips, salsa and bean dip could serve as an extra snack, if needed.
Focus on Whole Grains
Eat a serving of whole-grain cereal and milk for breakfast along with raw, unsalted nuts and some hard-boiled egg whites, if you choose to eat eggs. Have some sliced fruit for your morning snack, followed by a sandwich made from seasoned mashed beans like chickpeas spread on two slices of whole-wheat bread. Pair the sandwich with raw vegetables and low-fat string cheese. Have air-popped popcorn or reduced-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers for an afternoon snack and tofu stir-fried with vegetables, brown rice and a salad for dinner.