Simple Vegetarian Diet Plan For Beginners

Simple Vegetarian Diet Plan For Beginners

Many people are trying to cut back on how much meat they eat these days, usually for health reasons or personal choice.

Lots of them are trying to eliminate meat from their diets completely. In fact, there are around 7 million vegetarians in the US.

If you’ve been a meat eater for many years and want to become vegetarian, you probably have lots of questions.

Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed and just don’t know where to begin. Perhaps you’re unsure of what foods you’d be able to eat as a vegetarian or are worried you might not be able to find a wide selection of vegetarian foods in your local area.

Having been a meat eater for more than 20 years before became vegetarian, I’ve been in your shoes, and I understand your concerns.

Transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle can be tricky, but vegetarian products are increasingly available in stores, so it’s easier to “go veggie” now than it’s ever been!

I’ve crafted this vegetarian diet plan for beginners, including small steps you can take to transition.

If you need more ideas, a sample week-long meal guide is also included to start off your first week. Congratulations on choosing to become a vegetarian, and I hope this info will help you on your way!

Step #1: Choose Your Vegetarian Style

Before you begin your new eating plan, the most important step is to choose what kind of vegetarian you’d like to be.

You can choose to be a lacto-ovo vegetarian (you’ll eat eggs, honey and dairy, but no meat), a lacto vegetarian (you’ll eat dairy and honey, but no eggs or meat), or even a strict vegetarian (also called vegan), which means no meat, dairy, eggs, or honey.

Whichever one you choose, it’s important to make dietary changes slowly – you’ll be more successful!

Most people find it easiest to start off as a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Some people choose to follow this plan for many years. Others choose to transition from lacto-ovo vegetarianism to lacto vegetarianism over a period of time; some people then move to a vegan diet.

Try different plans and see what feels right for you. Feel free to move between styles, too! For example, you could do vegan Mondays with lacto-ovo vegetarian weekends. Just experiment!

Step #2: Use Meat Replacements & Adapt Your Favorite Old Recipes

As you transition away from eating meat, meat replacements will be your new best friend. In the freezer section of the grocery store, you can find entire shelves filled with vegetarian “fake meat” alternatives.

From vegetarian burgers to meat crumbles, fake sausages to veggie hot dogs, the selection is expanding nearly every day!

As you create your first vegetarian meals, keep it simple. You can use all of your usual recipes, just replace the meat with a meat-free option – veggie crumbles in place of meat in spaghetti or a veggie patty on a bun in place of your usual hamburger, for example.

Step #3: Experiment With New Flavors and Recipes

As you become a more experienced vegetarian, you can start to move away from using meat substitutes and branch out to new flavors.

Try using tofu in a stir fry. Lentils and chickpeas also make excellent stand-ins for meat.

If I crave meat, one of my favorite things to do is to make a lentil dish flavored with bay leaves and oregano – it really does have a smoky, “meaty” taste that is just as satisfying as a burger!

For breakfast, oats have a very hearty texture and are really comforting. You can even use them to make a batch of your own granola bars in the oven, which are perfect for busy mornings!

To support your vegetarian diet, try to seek out new recipes. There are many Pinterest boards and vegetarian blogs online, which are constantly updated with new recipes.

Dozens of vegetarian cookbooks are available online (even at discount stores!), and your local bookstore likely carries several magazines devoted to vegetarian food.

Aim to adapt one of your favorite old recipes and try one new recipe every two weeks. This way, you’ll never get bored, and you’ll create your own vegetarian “recipe box” in no time!

Sample Vegetarian Meal Plan for Your First Week 

(Including Vegan Options)


Breakfast: scrambled eggs with toast and/or vegetarian/vegan sausages

Lunch: egg salad sandwich (or chickpea salad sandwich if vegan)

Dinner: spaghetti, with or without vegetarian or vegan meatballs/meat crumbles (from the freezer section)


Breakfast: granola bar (homemade or store-bought) with banana

Lunch: grilled cheese sandwich (use vegan shredded cheese if you want to)

Dinner: broccoli-cheese soup (or lentil soup if vegan)


Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fruit (or coconut yogurt, if vegan)

Lunch: pasta salad, carrot sticks and/or potato chips

Dinner: vegetarian or vegan burger on a bun with french fries


Breakfast: cereal with milk of your choice

Lunch: baked potato with filling of your choice (cheese or vegan cheese, beans, salad)

Dinner: Mexican burritos/tacos (taco shells or tortillas filled with refried/black beans, brown rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, and salsa)


Breakfast: oatmeal (instant or overnight) with cinnamon or maple syrup and fruit of choice

Lunch: humus and pita with olives, salad, and feta cheese (or vegan cheese substitute)

Dinner: pot pie (or cottage pie)—can be store-bought or homemade


Breakfast: vegan/vegetarian pancakes with maple syrup

Lunch: risotto with butternut squash

Dinner: stir-fry (spaghetti noodles with soy and teriyaki sauce, mixed vegetables from the freezer section)


Breakfast: blueberry muffin (homemade or store-bought) with smoothie (blend together ice cubes, milk or coconut milk, 1 banana, and some strawberries or blueberries)

Lunch: vegetarian chili or (lentils with rice)

Dinner: falafel with lemon-tahini sauce

I hope this info on starting a vegetarian diet plan for beginners has inspired you to experiment with new flavors in the kitchen! Good luck, and happy cooking!

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13 thoughts on “Simple Vegetarian Diet Plan For Beginners

  1. Good work. My girfriend became a vergitarian lately and we struggle with what we are going to eat most of the time. This helps me out big time. Got plenty new ideas now. i try to watch it myself too. I kind of feel bad when I buy chicken in the supermarket. Maybe Im going to make the switch soon as well

  2. Hi, this is Marion, Calorie Ninja, what a great name for your website. I found it easy readable with lots of good information. The recipes are fine both on your site and in the video. Also like your video about being a vegitarian, it was informative. After reading this page i can order the book you promote. It is easy to find this way, Actually I don’t know what else I can say about it, I browsed through the posts, archives and recent posts, i was truly amazed by your knowledge and the pictures you found to go with it. Also here a book to promote. Good luck, Marion

    1. LOL who are you – the website police? Well thanks for looking through the site Marion – I suppose good feedback is always welcome (makes a change from people throwing insults at me!) 🙂

  3. Nice article. I am not a vegetarian myself, but have been considering at least cutting back on the amount of meat I consume. I have tried the meat substitutes, but I don’t like the taste and, quite honestly, I don’t really see the point. If I want something that tastes like meat, I will eat meat!
    I guess, though, I need to experiment with some vegetarian options to see if it is right for me.

    1. Yeah some of those meat substitutes just don’t taste right do they David? Mind you, there are some out there that are pretty nice! 🙂

  4. Great content and just what the Doctor ordered; the suggested diets are excellent, I am desirous of becoming a vegetarian and they will be very helpful, What is a substitute for fish? My wife likes chicken which presents a challenge for me,What is the best protein substitute?
    Thanks for sharing a great page especially helpful for new vegetarians.Best wishes.

    1. There are many products that are Soya based or similar to Quorn that supply good protein Courtney. But why would you want to substitute fish if you are a vegetarian? 99% of vegetarians eat fish!

  5. Hi again Chris. I didn’t know that there were different types of vegetarians. I read articles and visit site like yours because I like to be aware of what’s healthy and what’s not. I’ve never considered being a vegetarian though. What is the benefit of giving up all meats? If it’s for heart health, isn’t it good enough just to stay away from red meat? And another question I have is, why do some vegetarians look upon eggs as being bad, and something to be excluded? I’m looking through your site with a lot of interest, so don’t be surprised if I have more questions. Thanks for the interesting and informative website.

    1. Hi Jim,

      This article wasn’t actually written by me – we got a well known vegetarian in to complete it. I’m like you – I could never avoid meats!

      I’m actually not sure about some of their views on eggs – I can’t see why they wouldn’t eat them? Maybe it’s the unborn chick side of things?

  6. Hey Chris,

    I loved this article because I have been a vegetarian for 8 years and I have trouble maintaining proper nutrition and wellness, the same goes for a handful of my friends.

    Unfortunately, I am allergic to nuts and beans so I am limited to few things for quality protein. Your recipes that include breakfast foods will be very helpful for me because I rely on them so much for protein most of the time

    It really is refreshing to find an article that covers these sorts of options correctly – a great read!

    1. Hey Anthony,

      Well that’s great news mate – so glad some of the options we have provided are a good fit for your lifestyle. If you have any vegetarian tips we have not covered in the article please feel free to leave them in the comment section here!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment mate 🙂

      Stay Healthy!

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