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Vegetarianism Has Many Shades!

"Yes, I am vegetarian. No, I don’t only eat plants."




It has been noted that you can feel more grounded in your life through your diet. I'm sure you are familiar with the famous saying" You are what you eat." Preparing and eating whole foods definitely leaves me feeling more rooted in my life, stemming from the roots of their life. It's perfectly fine if you don't feel the same way or have not anchored food to a bit of existentialism. But if we begin to shift our perspective just an inch or two...we can begin to imagine what the farm our potatoes came from looks like. Or what the weather was like on the day our apple was picked. It’s all relative since we are all connected, not just by family roots but by cultures, traditions and the food we prepare for ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.

Since I have focused these first few months on plant health, I thought I’d drop the “V” word and speak about the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Full disclosure, I’m not a vegetarian but I do follow some of their guidelines in my diet. It's always helpful to have some educational facts about all the facets (not the politics) of a vegetarian diet.

Some of this will be a review of what I have already covered with some additional healthy suggestions to get you started or keep you going.

So How Many Vegetarian Diets Are There?

Eating a vegetarian diet rich in fruits, veggies, legumes, soy and tofu can help reduce the incidence of heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It can reduce the risk of cancer, positively impact blood sugar levels while helping you to maintain a healthy weight. The downside to a vegetarian diet (or many diets) are lack of appropriate preparation and heavily relying on processed and packaged foods. Having ready-made options are great and convenient but that doesn’t mean we can eat all the pizza and veggie burgers we want. Below are some categories to help you identify where you currently are within your dietary choices (if any of these resonate) or may shed some light on dietary options that you would like to move forward with.

Vegetarian diets breakdown as follows:

Lacto-Vegetarian: This is defined as someone who doesn’t eat meat and fish but does include dairy and dairy products in their diets such as: milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter.

Ovo-Vegetarian: This is defined as someone who doesn’t eat meat, poultry seafood or dairy products but they do include eggs into their diet.

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian: This is defined as someone who doesn’t eat meat, poultry or fish but does include dairy products and eggs into their diet.

Pescatarian: This is defined as someone who doesn’t eat meat, poultry, or eggs but does include fish and other seafood into their diet.

Vegan: This is defined as someone who not only excludes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and all dairy products from their diets. Any food products that were made by animals are eliminated.

Flexitarian: This is defined as someone who maintains a plant-based diet but sometimes includes meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small amounts.

The suggestions and examples below will vary based on sex, age, and weight. These are based on a generalized 30-40 yrs. of age. A great resource for more information can be found at

Please Note: Protein recommendations for adult male vegans is around 63 grams per day; and around 52 grams per day for adult female vegans. If plant-based proteins are your only dietary source, you should try to incorporate a bit into each meal.

Vegetables: 3 servings per day

Examples Include:

2 cups of raw leafy greens = 1 serving

½ cup chopped steamed or cooked vegetables = 1 serving

½ cup cooked beans or peas = 1 serving

¼ cup 100% vegetable juice = 1 serving

Grains: 6 ½ servings per day - Make half your plate whole grains!

Examples Include:

1 slice of whole grain bread or small tortilla = 1 serving

1 cup of cereal = 1 serving

½ cup of cooked pasta, rice or hot cereal or quinoa = 1 serving

Nuts, Seeds, Beans & Legumes: 5 servings per week

Examples Include:

2 tbsp of nut butter = 1 serving

1 oz of nut or seeds = 1 serving

¼ cup of cooked beans or peas = 1 serving

4 oz of tempeh = 1 serving

1 cup of soy milk = 1 serving

Omega 3 Fats & Oils: 3 servings per day

Examples Include:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil (canola, corn, olive, soybean, safflower)

1 Tbsp soft margarine

1 Tbsp of ground flaxseed

(Please Note: that flaxseed must be ground; otherwise you won’t absorb the ALA)

1 ½ tsp chia seeds

½ tbsp hemp seeds

1 tbsp of oil (canola, corn, olive, soybean, safflower or walnut)

½ tbsp chopped walnuts

1 ½ teaspoon flaxseed oil

1 ½ tsp hemp seed oil

(If Lacto is included in your diet)

Dairy: 3 servings per day - Choose more lower fat or fat free if weight loss is the goal).

Examples Include:

1 cup of milk

1.5 oz of cheese

(If Ovo and Flexitarian are included in your diet)

Poultry, Meat & Eggs: Approx 7 servings per week:

Examples Include:

3 oz of cooked meat = 1 serving

1 egg or 2 egg whites = 1 serving

(If Pescatarian and Flexitarian are included in your diet)

Fish & Seafood: 2-3 servings per week

Examples Include:

3 oz of cooked fish or other seafood = 1 serving

(Great choices include fish that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines!)

Plant Proteins

For plant proteins, you may have heard the term “complementary proteins”. This means that each source of food on its own may offer a few essential amino acids but not all of them. Adding in another (complimentary) source of plant protein will provide all the essential amino acids, and it will then become a complete protein. An example of this would be rice and beans. Having just rice (hopefully brown rice, it contains more nutrients) is great and has health benefits but putting it together with beans….you now have a complete protein! You can mix and match the plant-based proteins so you stay healthy but don’t get bored of your diet.

Below are a few examples for a few categories to help you get started:

  • Legumes: lentils, beans (adzuki, black, fava, chickpeas/garbanzo, kidney, lima, mung, pinto), peas (green, snow, snap, split), edamame/soybeans (and products made from soy: tofu, tempeh), and peanuts.

  • Nuts and Seeds: almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, squash and pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds.

  • Whole Grains: kamut, teff, wheat, quinoa, rice, wild rice, millet, oats, and buckwheat and many more.

  • Other: while many vegetables and fruits contain some level of protein, it’s generally in smaller amounts than the other plant-based foods. Some examples with higher protein quantities include corn, broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, and artichokes.

Turnips Are the Highlighted Vegetable Of April!


Let's Turnip The Health!

Turnips have been enjoyed across the globe for over two thousand years! This cruciferous root vegetable is grown in temperate regions and they add a great flavor to stews and soups. Turnips have a delicate sweetness to them so they are a great addition to a veggie medley. You can cook them by sautéing, baking, steaming or serving them raw. It all depends on how you like to enjoy them. Personally, I love to bake them with other root vegetables such as the sweet potatoes and carrots for a sweet side dish without the guilt.

Don’t throw away the green leaves from the turnip! Believe or not, they are full of vitamin A and K which can help with eye and heart health. These are great to sautéing or dicing up and adding into a soup.

Turnips are a good source of fiber and contain several minerals including: phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Vitamins found in this root vegetable are vitamin C, folate, and niacin.

It doesn’t stop there! With nutrients like this, other health benefits play a role. For example, fiber from this root vegetable can help lower blood pressure and aid in digestion. The vitamin C can boost your immunity and the calcium can add strength to your bones.

If you are new to adding the turnip into your diet, experiment a bit to find what works best for you and your palate. Enjoy some new recipes or add a new element to some old ones. This is an opportunity to be a little creative in the kitchen with your new veggie addition. And Remember….Health starts from the inside out….but also from the ground up!

To discuss more detailed information regarding the topics within this blog, or to inquire about customized nutrition plans, please reach out to Cathleen Winter at

A Little About Me

My name is Mary DeBlasio, and I live in Silver Spring, MD. I am currently a student studying Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of the District of Columbia. I am set to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in May of 2021. I am very interested in mindful eating, and foods that correlate with the seasons. My goal after graduation is to pursue a dietetic internship with a focus on clinical dietetics. I would like to concentrate on patients suffering from gastrointestinal issues. All my information is backed by credible sources cited within the blog.


Meenakshi Nagdevelast updated - March 02, Nagdeve, M., & Nagdeve, A. (2020, March 02). 8 amazing benefits of turnips & how to cook. Retrieved March 31, 2021, from

Protein. (2020, October 19). Retrieved December 31, 2020, from

Protein in the vegan diet. (n.d.). Retrieved April 01, 2021, from,meet%20the%20recommendations%20for%20protein.

Seasonal produce guide. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from

Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition. (2020, August 20). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from

Vegetarian's challenge - OPTIMIZING essential fatty acid status. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from

What's on your plate? (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2021, from

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