University Health Services header
Using UHS
Health & Wellness
Insurance & Billing
About You
About Us

Questions? We're here to help.

Call (413) 577-5000

Vegetarian Eating

Vegetarians typically fall into two major categories:

Lacto-ovo vegetarians
The name comes from the Latin words for milk (lacto) and eggs (ovo), and refers to vegetarians who avoid eating red meat, poultry and fish. They choose alternative sources of protein such as dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt); eggs; legumes (any form of dried peas and beans, like lentils, lima beans or soybeans); and grains.

Vegans (or total vegetarians)
These vegetarians do not consume dairy products or eggs, relying on legumes, grains and, to a lesser extent, nuts, as sources of protein. It’s necessary to eat very large portions of nuts to consume significant protein, however.

Ensuring adequate nutrition

A properly chosen lacto-ovo vegetarian diet supplies adequate nutrition. Because meat and fish are eliminated, you’ll need to pay attention to alternative sources of iron and zinc. Ground sunflower seeds provide zinc; foods with significant iron include cream of wheat and other iron-fortified cereal products; legumes, especially lima beans, navy beans soybeans and kidney beans; and dark green vegetables, especially broccoli, collards and spinach.

On a vegan diet, you may need supplements or fortified foods to get enough vitamin B12, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin D.

Daily food guide

2-4 cups of whole*, skim, buttermilk, soy milk, yogurt.

4 servings, divided into at least two separate meals. One protein serving equals:
• 1/3 cup cooked legumes
• 2 tablespoons peanut or nut butters
• 1 egg
• cup cottage cheese
• 1 ounce (1 slice) cheese
• 1 cup yogurt
• cup firm or ½ cup soft tofu
• cup (1.5 oz.) tempeh
• cup seeds
• For texturized vegetable protein entrees, read the label. One serving is equal to an amount yielding 7 grams of protein.

Whenever non-dairy protein sources are used, proteins should be complemented as follows:
• legumes and grains;
• dairy and grains; or
• legumes and nuts or seeds.

6 or more servings of whole grain (preferable) or enriched bread. Substitutes for one slice of bread include ½ cup cooked grain, potato or pasta.

1 or more servings (1/2 – cup) whole grain (preferable) or enriched cereal.

3 – 5 servings (1/2 cup) per day. Include one dark green leafy or yellow vegetable at least every other day. Examples include broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, carrots, winter squash or greens (like mustard, beet or turnip).

Fruit and fruit juices
3 – 4 servings to include 1 citrus fruit daily. One serving equals 4 ounces of juice or ½ cup canned fruit.

1 tablespoon per day; includes oils, butter, margarine.

*for the most healthful diet, minimal use of whole milk, whole milk products and saturated fats is recommended.