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Health Information Check Your Pantry for Vegetarian Staples

Whether it's a guest coming for a dinner party or a child home from college, making something special for visitors who are vegetarian can cause a bit of anxiety. This is especially true when it comes to the main course and concerns about providing enough protein.

"The good news is that there is really only one thing on the plate that needs to be substituted and that's the protein portion," says Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RD, LDN, a nutrition consultant at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "Because, whether or not you're a vegetarian, half of your plate should be vegetables already, with a quarter for a whole grain starch, and the last quarter of your plate should contain some lean protein."

Ventrelle recommends finding a quick and easy source of plant-based protein like tofu or tempeh (both soy-based products) or seitan (a wheat-based meat substitute, which can be found at a health food store or is often available in oriental markets).

"There are also a lot of meat substitutes available in the frozen food section of the market these days," says Ventrelle. "There's everything from veggie 'burgers' to breakfast sausages." Be careful though to check the label for egg products, as some vegetarians, vegans for example, don't eat eggs.

Sorting it out
Types of vegetarians:
 

  • Vegans – only eat plant-based foods
  • Lacto vegetarians – eat dairy products and plant-based foods
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians – eat eggs, dairy products and plant-based foods
  • Semi vegetarians – may eat seafood, eggs, dairy products and plant-based foods Shopping list

Some good protein sources to have on hand for all types of vegetarian guests:
 

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Veggie "burgers"
  • Nut butters, like peanut and almond butter
  • Legumes, like lentils, pinto beans, chick peas (garbanzos), kidney beans, etc.
  • Soy or rice "milk"
  • Soy or rice "ice cream"
  • Soy margarine
  • Soy cheese
  • Soy yogurt

"A vegetarian diet can be a healthy diet, especially if you eat a variety of foods and remember to have one quarter of your meal include a good source of protein," says Ventrelle.


More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For more information about nutritional services at Rush visit our Food and Nutritional Services home page.
  • Looking for a dietitian? Call (312) 942-DIET (3438)
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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