A Balanced Vegetarian Diet

A balanced vegetarian diet, as any healthy diet, requires a good hard look into the dusty corners of your kitchen pantry and fridge.

Whether you are going vegetarian (welcome to the club!) or already are used to a vegan or vegetarian diet, you first of all need a well stocked pantry.

What is a Balanced Vegetarian Diet?

Balanced vegetarian diet

There are different types of vegetarians all over the world, so the food preferences will be different for everyone. But there are common basic food groups that are similar for all vegetarians:

  1. Grains
  2. Fruits and vegetables
  3. Legumes and nuts
  4. Dairy (or alternatives for vegans)

Avoid risky diet mistakes by eating a variety of healthy unprocessed foods. The easiest way to make sure you eat a balanced vegetarian diet, is to make sure to include something from each group every day in your meals. 

Get a free e-book (pdf) with great advice for beginner vegetarians Here.

Stock Up Your Pantry

Balanced Vegetarian Diet

The following list focuses on the most basic, unprocessed (and more frugal!) foods that are great to have at hand to be able to cook an easy and healthy meal.

According to each individual taste, place you live, or season of the year you will add your own favorites, of course.

If we look at a balanced vegetarian diet in more detail, the basic foods are; grains, vegetables, protein, dairy (vegetarians), fruits, oils, herbs, spices and sugars.

  • Grains: Different types of rice, and grains like bulghur, couscous, quinoa, buckwheat, as well as pasta, different types of flours, breads, cereal.
  • Vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, cabbage, corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, celery, avocado, mushrooms, fresh ginger.
  • Protein: Nuts, seeds, eggs (vegetarians), legumes like beans, lentils and peas,  and maybe soy products like tofu,  tempeh and miso.
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt, sour cream, cream, butter, cheese. (Or vegan alternatives).
  • Fruits: Apples, pears, bananas, citrus fruits, berries, seasonal fruit and dried fruits.
  • Oils: Olive oil, sunflower or canola oil, nut oils, vegetable oils.

Herbs, spices and sugars:

  • Herbs like dill, parsley and cilantro are best fresh. Basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf etc. are great both fresh and dried.
  • Spices like black, white and red pepper, cayenne, chili, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cumin are spices used in many recipes. It is great to also have some curry, coriander and fennel seeds and at hand.
  • Sugars: Light and dark brown sugar, honey (vegetarians), maple syrup (if available).

Extras: You will also need dried yeast, baking soda and baking powder (if you like to make bread, cookies and cakes), as well as vegetable stock, in cubes or powder.

Canned food: Some canned food is good to have for convenience even though the nutritional value is small, like whole canned tomatoes (chop them up as you cook), tomato paste, mushrooms, and different types of beans.

Condiments: White and red wine and maybe dry sherry for cooking, Soy sauce, vegetarian Worcester sauce, different vinegars, mustard, ketchup, olives, capers, pickles, and grilled red peppers are also great to have handy.

Healthy drinks: The cleanest water, soda water, teas, fruit and vegetable juice (best is homemade of course!), good quality coffee (preferably organic and fair trade), red wine : ).

Being a vegetarian or vegan is never a matter of food deprivation!

A balanced vegetarian diet is a matter of choice to indulge in the foods that make you happiest, whether it is because of animal concern, religious, spiritual, health or whatever reason. It is a diet I have thrived on for almost 30 years, and I love it!

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