These are a few of our favorite vegetarian dishes, and if you’re hungry for more, we have meatless recipe collections — protein packed, slow cooker and holidays — plus hundreds more vegetarian recipes. Discover vegan cooking hacks from The Full Helping too — they’re also helpful for vegetarians!
So, What Does It Mean to Be Vegetarian?
Vegetarians typically avoid meat, poultry and fish. However, vegetarian diets actually vary in what foods are included or excluded. For example, some vegetarians eat cheese, dairy products, eggs and even fish, while others don’t.
There’s good news: Vegetarians typically consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and more fiber and phytochemicals than standard diet followers. Plus there are positive links between veg-based diets and lower levels of diabetes, obesity and more.
Shopping for Vegetarian Foods
From leafy greens, plump blueberries and colorful root veggies to hearty whole grains, nuts and dried beans, our stores have everything you need to put together a nourishing plant-forward diet. Below are some nutrition tips for shopping and meal planning.
- Protein. Protein needs can be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods like some legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains, plus eggs, dairy products, soy products and meat substitutes.
- Calcium. Vegetarians and vegans are likely to have calcium levels lower than the general population, so be sure to shop for dark green vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards and okra, plus calcium-enriched and fortified products such as juices, cereals, soymilk, soy yogurt and tofu.
- Iron. The Recommended Daily Allowance of iron for vegetarians and vegans is higher than for meat eaters. To meet your needs, load your shopping cart with dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and raisins.
- Zinc. Because plant foods tend to be lower in zinc than animal foods, get the zinc your body needs with cheese or plant sources like whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ.
- Vitamin B12. It can be challenging to maintain adequate levels of vitamin B12 on a plant-based diet, so you may need to take a b12 supplement or have milk, eggs and foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12 like breakfast cereals, soymilk and veggie burgers.
- Vitamin D. For vegetarians and vegans who spend a lot of time indoors or live in a northern climate, fortified milk, soymilk and cereals are reliable sources of vitamin D, though you may also need a (plant-derived) supplement.
If you’re looking for detailed information on a balanced vegetarian diet, turn to reliable resources such as The Vegetarian Resource Group and Mayo Clinic. Be sure to check in with your health-care provider before starting any new diet.
A Vegetarian-Friendly Shopping List
A nourishing vegetarian diet starts with fresh produce, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. You can find a lot of what you need for a nutritious vegetarian diet in our Produce department, frozen section, grocery aisles and bulk bin section.
- Rainbow of fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Soy products such as tempeh and tofu and other non-soy meat substitutes
- Eggs and dairy products (not applicable for every vegetarian)
- Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil and other nut oils
- Nutritional yeast
Animal-derived ingredients are commonly found in supplements, so look for capsule and softgel products that say “vegi-caps” or highlight plant-derived sources on the label. Or ask a Whole Body team member for help. Here are some things to watch for:
- Gelatin, derived from cattle and pigs, is the most pervasive animal product in nutritional supplements. Beware of capsule and softgel products that do not have “vegi-caps” or plant-derived sources on the label.
- Beta-carotene, though vegetarian sourced, is often coated in gelatin for stabilization purposes.
- L-tyrosine is typically derived from poultry feathers.
- Glucosamine sulfate is usually derived from shellfish, although a new vegetarian source is now being tested for efficacy and stability.
- Chondroitin sulfate is derived from cattle.
- Vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol) is usually derived from lanolin (sheep’s wool), animal hides or fish oil. D2, a synthetic version, is not as bioavailable as D3.
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an essential omega-3 fatty acid, is derived from seaweed but normally packaged in gelatin softgels.
More Products for Your Vegetarian Shopping List
In addition to the foods listed above, these products can make vegetarian cooking and eating easier:
- Dr. Praegers Veggie Burgers
- Hope Hummus
- TruRoots Sprouted Quinoa
- GimMe Organics Seaweed Chips
- Larabar Fruit & Nut Bars