Online Dietitian Nutrition Tips for Vegetarians to Get All Essential Nutrients

The second week of September marks Vegetarian Awareness Week, and today, we want to discuss some of the challenges that vegetarians face. It’s more common than ever, now, to encounter people who have plant-based diet plans, depending on the region of the country where you live. Big cities have more options than rural areas. The coasts are more plant-forward eaters than the center of the US. So being a vegetarian can be challenging depending on where you live.

Lack of support, not only from friends and family but also from establishments, makes being a vegetarian or vegan even more difficult. School and university cafeterias, supermarkets, and restaurants frequently fail to offer affordable vegetarian options.

There is a lot of misinformation about how vegetarians can maintain adequate nutrition with what appears to be a highly restricted diet. First, let’s discuss the types of vegetarians and plant-forward diet options, then we’ll talk about the three best ways to ensure you get all the nutrients you need with a plant-based diet.

There are four main types of vegetarianism.

  • Vegans are people who do not use or consume any animal products – this includes not wearing silk or leather or consuming honey.
  • Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products in their diets.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians include both dairy products and eggs in their diets.
  • Lastly, pesco-vegetarians include fish in their diets.


Making the transition from a meat-based diet to a vegetarian one presents nutritional challenges, mainly because we are so accustomed to living in a meat-centric world. We would argue that all humans face challenges in meeting dietary recommendations; these challenges simply differ between vegetarians and meat eaters.

As registered dietitians, here are our top seven nutrition tips for vegetarians:

  • Make sure you get your complete proteins. A complete protein provides your body with the eight essential amino acids (nine for children) required daily. These amino acids serve as the foundational building blocks for every cell, playing an indispensable role in nearly all biological functions. Fortunately, there exists an array of remarkable plant-based sources of complete proteins, including hemp, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and microalgae.
    Meal and Snack Ideas that create complete proteins: Any of the aforementioned plant-based sources are complete proteins. Likewise you can try lentils and rice, beans and grains, nut butter and whole grain bread, hummus and whole wheat pita, Greek yogurt, black bean soup with rice, chickpea and rice salad. The combination of foods is critical to get a complete protein.


  • Incorporate foods with sufficient calcium, iron, vitamin B12, and essential fatty acids, which are commonly found in dairy and meat products. For those embracing a vegan lifestyle, ensuring sufficient intake of these nutrients becomes paramount. To address fatty acid needs, consider integrating nuts, seeds (such as walnuts, flaxseed, and rapeseed), kelp, and algae. Leafy greens to almond butter, oranges, and blackberries are all great sources of calcium. To bolster iron levels, look to leafy greens, beans, and broccoli, among other options. Most vegetarians and all vegans need supplements to ensure they get the required daily nutrients. Work with a vegetarian dietitian to get the supplement protocol and support you need.


  • Embrace a vibrant spectrum of colors. Reds (such as red bell peppers and cabbage), yellows (squash, zucchini), oranges (pumpkin, sweet potato), greens (kale, broccoli, peas), and purples (eggplant, purple cabbage). A plate adorned with nature’s palette not only pleases the eye but also nourishes the body. Furthermore, remember that the synergy of various foods enhances their absorption within the body.


When supporting vegetarian and vegan clients, we recommend investing in cookbooks or vegetarian cooking classes. Both can enrich dietary experiences over the years.

As registered dietitians with years of working with vegetarian, vegan, and plant-forward diets, we can help you with a diet plan to ensure you get your nutrient needs met. Our job is to guide you in creating a well-balanced approach full of favorite flavors and family traditions. If you’re about to begin a vegetarian lifestyle or need extra support to manage a vegetarian or vegan diet plan, we are excited to support you.

We always recommend you work with your doctor in case you’re feeling drained or unwell. Blood tests and other exams can identify whether you have deficiencies in your diet.