Meal Ideas for Different Vegetarian Diets

Vegan (no dairy or eggs)

  • Grilled Vegetable Sandwich — Slice mushrooms, onions, artichokes, tomatoes, zucchini, and/or yellow squash and saute in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then put vegetables between two slices of whole wheat or rye bread.
  • Vegetarian Chili — Make with lots of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic, and different types of beans. You can also add meat substitutes like "beef" crumbles or sweet potatoes to bulk up your chili. Season it with cumin and chili powder. If you use broth, it needs to be vegetable broth, not chicken or beef broth!
  • Vegetarian Fajitas — Fill a whole-wheat or corn tortilla with sautéed onions and peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and salsa. Add a side of brown rice and beans too!
  • Whole Wheat Pasta with Marinara — Add cooked vegetables to your marinara sauce or have them as a side dish. You can also add soy crumbles or a meat substitute like beef crumbles to your sauce.
  • Stir-fry — Load this dish with sautéed vegetables and tofu and serve over brown rice. Some good stir-frying vegetables are broccoli, snow peas, baby corn, carrots, water chestnuts, onions and red bell peppers. Try to cook in a small amount of oil and don't add too much sauce!
  • Green Spinach and/or Romaine Salad — Pack your salad with different vegetables, dried or fresh fruits, beans, some chopped nuts or seeds, and a few croutons. Use low-fat dressing and eat with a small whole grain roll on the side. Don’t be afraid to get creative! (If you follow a lacto- or lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, try adding hard-boiled eggs or low-fat cheese when making salads.)
  • Soup and Salad — Pair black bean, lentil, or vegetable soup with a fresh green salad. See above for salad ideas.

Lacto-vegetarian (has dairy but no eggs)

  • Broccoli Cheese Soup — Serve with a whole-grain roll and dip it in your soup. Add a side salad made with fresh greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and low-fat dressing.
  • Bean Burrito — Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with fat-free refried beans, salsa and low-fat cheese.
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich — Add tomatoes to your sandwich before grilling or dip in tomato soup. (Try sticking to vegetable broth-based soups instead of cream-based.)
  • Falafel Pita — Fill a small whole-wheat pita with a few pieces of falafel, yogurt-based sauce (tzatziki sauce), cucumbers and tomatoes.
  • Veggie Quesadilla — Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with grilled peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and low-fat shredded cheese. Eat with pico de gallo and a small amount of reduced-fat sour cream or guacamole.
  • Veggie Burger or Black Bean Burger — Make these from scratch if you can find a recipe or buy them pre-made from the store. Cook your burger on the grill. Then top with a slice of low-fat cheese, a few slices of avocado, tomato, lettuce, and onion on a whole-wheat roll. It's easy to make this a vegan meal by just taking out the cheese!
  • Pizza — Make a cheese pizza with marinara and fresh mozzarella. Top it with your vegetables.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta with Pesto Sauce — Cook and add your favorite veggies on top of this dish or try eating with a green side salad and low-fat dressing.
  • Yogurt Parfait — Make with low-fat vanilla yogurt, fresh berries, and chopped nuts.
  • Stuffed Peppers — Stuff bell peppers with a mixture of brown rice, soy crumbles, non-starchy veggies and shredded cheese.

Lacto-ovo vegetarian (has both dairy and eggs)

  • Vegetarian Omelet — Make with lightly sautéed spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions or other veggies of your choice and some melted cheese on top.
  • Vegetable Lasagna — Make with low-fat ricotta cheese. You can pack this dish with lots of vegetables like squash, mushrooms, onions, peppers and broccoli. Top with marinara sauce. (Note that most lasagna recipes include eggs. Also, there are some vegan lasagna recipes that use tofu in place of ricotta cheese.)
  • Eggplant Parmesan — Serve with marinara sauce and a small amount of whole-grain pasta. (Note that most eggplant parmesan recipes include eggs.)
  • Egg Salad Sandwich — Make with light mayo and serve on whole wheat toast.
  • You can also enjoy any of the meals in the categories above!

Breakfast Ideas

  • Whole grain cereal with ½ cup low-fat milk (soy milk for vegan diets)
  • 1 piece of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and a small piece of fresh fruit
  • Fruit smoothie (use soy yogurt and/or soy milk for vegan diets)
  • Oatmeal (made with water or soy milk) with chopped nuts and/or dried fruit
  • Scrambled egg (try tofu scramble for vegan or lacto-vegetarian diets)
  • ½ whole wheat English muffin with a small amount of jelly and a small bowl of fresh berries

If you are looking for more meal ideas, you may want to search for vegetarian recipes on Recipes for Healthy Living.

Next: Other Types of Vegetarian Diets

  • Last Reviewed: August 1, 2013
  • Last Edited: December 23, 2013

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