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A Vegetarian Diet

by Traci Kaufman, R.D.


Eating Vegetarian

The vegetarian diet is designed to maintain or attain optimal nutrition for persons who choose to follow a vegetarian life style.

The vegetarian diet may be used by any person who chooses to follow it for religious preferences, health concerns, environmental considerations, humanitarian issues, economic or political reasons.

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Types of Vegetarianism


Protein In the Vegetarian Diet

The selection of foods for a vegetarian diet must take into consideration daily needs for all nine (10 for children) essential amino acids (protein quality), as well as total protein quantity. Amino acids are used for tissue growth; repair and maintenance in the body. They must be obtained from the foods you consume each day, as your body cannot synthesize them. There are complete and incomplete proteins as follows:

Complete protein: A single source of animal (flesh, egg or dairy) protein containing all the essential amino acids or proper combination of complementary protein sources

Incomplete protein: Plant and vegetable proteins (foods listed at bottom of the page)

The complete and incomplete proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal as believed. Intake of a variety of foods over the course of a day should provide adequate protein.


Breads & Grains6-11 servings each day


Milk & Dairy2-3 servings each day


Vegetables4-5 servings each day


Fruit3-4 servings each day


Nuts, Seeds & Legumes & Meat Substitutes
2-3 servings or a total of 5-7 ounces each day


Fats & Snacksuse sparinglyr




General Dietary Recommendations
For A Vegetarian Diet

The following are guidelines to keep in mind when eating a vegetarian diet.

Sufficient calories from carbohydrates and fat sources should be obtained so that protein may be used for body maintenance and growth.

To meet the daily protein need the following proportions from each food group should be obtained:


Remember, well-planned vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of life, including pregnancy and lactation.


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Traci Kaufman, Registered Dietitian, received her bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a clinical nutritionist at UCI Medical Center-Irvine in Orange California, and served as team nutritionist for the Los Angeles Rams. Traci is an active member of the American Dietetic Association and two Dietetic Practice Groups: Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutritionist (SCAN), and Dietitians in General Clinical Practice. Traci resides in Southern California.


This page created 1999

This page modified October 2006