Food & Diet

These 5 Foods Are What You Need If You Stop Eating Meat 

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Malnutrition is a real thing for vegetarians.

You would think that completely switching to a plant based diet would not be much cause for concern. But many of those who opt to go vegan can be completely uninformed about their decisions, neglecting to take careful meal planning into consideration.

Meal planning is ESSENTIAL in order to get the variety of nutrients that you need from your vegetarian diet, but luckily nature is generous enough to ensure that any and all nutrients you can get from meat can be easily found in plants.

Below are the types of food you will need in order to have a well-rounded vegetarian or vegan diet.

1. Tempeh

Tempeh is a traditional soy product similar to tofu. Originally from Indonesia, this soy product is ferme ted and formed into rectangular blocks and then wrapped in banana leafs. In Indonesia, especially in Java, tempeh is a traditional source of protein. A traditional way of preparing it is just slicing it into thin pieces, soaking them in brine and then frying them. The compact solidness of tempeh makes it a great substitute for burger patties.

Tempeh is rich in folate, vitamin K, magnesium, iron and fiber. It is also an unexpectedly excellent source of phytochemicals such as flavonoids, isoflavonoids, phytosterols and phenolic acids. The rich calcium content in tempeh has also been found to be as bioavailable as cow’s milk, making it a great source of calcium.

2. Legumes

Legumes, from a nutritional standpoint, are quite perfect.

They are rich in B vitamins, zinc, folate, iron, magnesium, thiamine and manganese. An excellent source of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and protein, legumes are an extremely satisfying food. Their complex carbohydrates help regulate blood sugar levels while the fiber present promotes bowel regularity.

Referred to often as “poor man’s protein” it can be argued that legumes are an even better source of protein than most types of meat because they are virtually devoid of cholesterol and unsaturated fat.


Legumes, beans in particular, are so good for you that researchers have repeatedly found that most communities with a lot of centenarians are the ones that utilize beans as a major source of protein. While meat and other types of protein are available to these communities, perhaps the cost of meat has influenced their use of beans and they have benefited greatly from it.

3. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great for when you are craving the give, bite and chewiness you can only experience with meat.

Although not totally the same, mushrooms can mimic the texture of meat as well as produce the signature umami taste we get from eating meat. Rachel Ray, the Food Network star, has a popular recipe using Portobello mushrooms in her burgers instead of using burger patties. Genius! All she did was season the mushrooms the way she would season her burger patties making for a great meat fake-out.

Mushrooms are naturally low in sodium, fat and calories and are a great source of B vitamins, soluble fibers and anti-oxidants. The B vitamins present in mushrooms are folate, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and pantothenic acid. It is also rich in dietary vitamin D.  Mushrooms also have several types of minerals in them (selenium, zinc, potassium, copper, iron and phosphorous), proving once and for all how nutritious mushrooms really are.

4. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a great way to get your daily dose of calcium if you’re trying to cut out meat from your diet. Vastly different (nutritional-wise) to frozen yogurt, Greek yogurt is rich, creamy, low in fat and calories, but extremely high in protein and calcium. It even has half the calories and twice the nutrients of regular yogurt.

Add more nutrition to your creamy soups by thickening them with Greek yogurt. The slightly tart taste might surprise you at first but it’s going to make your soup so creamy and so nutritious. Add Greek yogurt to fruit, cereals and dessert.

5. Whole Grains

By themselves, most plant based proteins from legumes and whole grains will not contain all the essential amino acids, but by combining them in a dish, as in the Mexican brown rice with beans, they can provide you with the complete collection of amino acids.

Whole grain means that the cereal grain still contains its germ, endosperm and bran. This is in contrast to refined grains that contain only the carbohydrate rich endosperm. You might not realize it but whole grain is a great source of protein aside from being a great source of carbohydrates and fiber.

An example of whole grains would be quinoa, farro, bulgur wheat, millet and wheat berries.