The following is an extract from our book, Say No to Meat: The 411 on Ditching Meat and Going Veg
Here’s the secret formula. Vegetarians should base their diet around five key food groups – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans) and nuts and seeds. As long as you eat a variety of different foods from these groups, you should get all the nutrition you need. The plate diagram below shows the relative importance of each group. Aim to get several portions of vegetables and at least 3 portions of whole grains, fruits, and legumes every day. Nuts and seeds are healthy foods, but it’s easy to eat too much of these – three times a week is sufficient.
Don’t forget your nutritional insurance. Life often gets busy and we can’t always pay as much attention to our diet as we need, so we also recommend that you take a good one-a-day type multi-vitamin, for nutritional insurance. Make sure that it contains vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Be smart with spices. Use herbs and spices to add flavor and variety to your food. Herbs are very healthy, but go easy on the salt since it can raise your blood pressure and forces your kidneys to work overtime.
Moderate amounts of vegetable oils and sweeteners such as maple syrup, rice syrup, sugar or agave nectar, rather than sugar or artificial sweeteners, are OK when called for by recipes. Don’t forget that chocolate is also a vegetarian product and dark chocolate is particularly healthy (in small doses!).
They’re not kidding when they say that our bodies are mostly made up of water. Water is an important component of a healthy diet. Aim for at least 6-8 cups a day.
See our Frequently Asked Questions, to learn more about basic nutrition and what vegetarians and vegans eat.