Vegetarianism is increasingly a way of life for many Australians for many wide and varied reasons. Whatever your reason (and all kudos to you!) make sure you try and do it right for your health’s sake. Following a vegetarian way of life can make you feel healthy, ‘clean,’ environmentally friendly and can often limit bloating that clients claim meat causes them. However, like anything that is restrictive there can be pitfalls. You may inadvertently be limiting your body of desired nutrients that are ordinarily sourced from meat and meat products.

Vegetarian Nutrients at Risk

Despite the healthy lifestyle and outlook that is Vegetarianism, it is important you are aware of nutrients you may be missing out by avoiding meat.

Nutrients to be mindful of:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin B12
  • Zinc
  • Calcium (particularly in vegan based diets)
  • Protein
  • Calories

The Healthy Eating Vegetarian Food Pyramid

Breads and cereals create the core of a veggo’s diet.

Its important to include the following food sources in your diet to prevent dietary deficiency which can lead to a ‘veggo’ feeling tired and lethargic with poor energy levels:

Iron ‘veggo’ sources

dried figs, prunes, prune juice and raisins, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and soybean nuts, navy beans, lentils, tofu, Iron-fortified cereals (i.e. Sanitarium Light ‘n Tasty). Don’t forget Vitamin C rich foods taken with iron sources boost the absorption, like a cup of orange juice- this is particularly important for those ‘veggos’ out there. vitamin B12 ‘veggo’ sources- eggs, yoghurt, milk, ice cream, Nutri-grain, Just Right, veggie burgers, textured vegetable protein (TVP). Also if you’re growing your own veggies, don’t rinse them off too thoroughly, as you’ll be rinsing off the vital microorganisms from the soil that are vitamin B12 producing. It’s worthwhile getting your iron and vitamin B12 checked annually by your GP if you are following a vegetarian diet.

Zinc ‘veggo’ sources

cooked dried beans, sea vegetables, fortified cereals, soy- based foods, nuts, peas, and seeds


Calcium rich foods

milk, fortified soy, rice milk, yoghurt, soy yoghurt, cheese- all cheeses but vary in their content of calcium, rice puddings- such as LeRice, custard


Protein rich ‘veggo’ options

dairy products- see calcium rich foods, TVP, quinoa, soy beans and soy products, nuts, legumes, lentils, veggie burgers, tofu. Veggo diets tend to be lower in protein due to the quantity of food needed to consume compared to 100g of meat. I.e. 100g red meat provides 23g protein, 100g quinoa provides 12g protein.’



often the veggie way of life is chosen as a way to restrict calories in one’s diet. This is fine, but when it is done in an unhealthy and uninformed way it can lead to macro and micronutrient deficiency as you are not providing enough calories to provide the minimal amount of nutrients for survival for your body. Eating a wide variety of foods- fruits and vegetables, breads and healthy grains, nuts, fats and dairy will help to achieve a healthy weight and lifestyle.

A Veggo’s Healthy Eating Plan

Below is a diet framework for someone wishing to maximise their vegetarian diet. It is a framework and gives structure and may not be suitable for certain levels of activity/exercise! If you are concerned about your diet or meeting your nutrients please feel free to email me- or visit an Accredited Practising Dietitian.


Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
  • ½ C Sanitarium Light n Tasty with
  • 1C low fat milk,
  • ½ punnet of strawberries with
  • 1 C orange juice
  • ½ C cooked quinoa
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 C mixed berries
  • 1TB honey
  • 1 x Up and Go Vive
  • 1 x piece of fruit
Morning Tea
  • 15 mixed nuts
  • 1 x 200g tub low fat yoghurt
  • 1 x skinny cappuccino
  • 1 Norganic Chia Wrap
  • 1C salad ingredients
  • 40g low fat fetta
  • 200g tub low fat yoghurt
  • 1.5C salad
  • 100g baked beans
  • 1 x multigrain bread
  • 1 x piece of fruit
  • ½ C brown or basmati rice
  • 100g tofu- flavoured to taste
  • 1.5C mixed vegetables
  • 30g dried fruit
Afternoon Tea
  • 4 x VitaWheets with
    1TB philly cream
    cheese spread
  • 4 x Sesame Snaps
  • ½ C low fat custard
  • ½ punnet strawberries
  • 1/2 C cooked quinoa or cous cous
  • 1-2 medium beetroot
    – roasted in garlic
  • Spinach leaves, broccolini
    – lightly cooked
  • 3x medium bocconcini
    – mix together and add herbs
    and spices to taste
  • 2 poached eggs
  • 2 slices rye toast
  • Grilled mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus, garlic and tomato
  • ½ C pasta
  • 1TB Basil pesto
  • Spinach leaves, snow peas, broccoli and vegetables of choice
  • 100g tofu or 40g fetta/ ricotta/ parmesan or 80g 4- bean mix
  • ½ C low fat custard
  • 125mL Gelativo
  • 1 x Jarrah Hot Chocolate

VARIETY IS THE KEY! Choose different coloured vegetables- this maximises the different vitamins you receive from these veggies, use lots of herbs and spices- make your meals exciting, tasty and interesting to eat, eat differently most days so you don’t get bored with your diet. If in doubt- try a daily multivitamin. You know what they say… “Variety is the spice of life!”


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