Home > NUTRITION > Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarian Diet


Protein source in a vegetarian diet is from plants such as legumes, grains, tubers, seeds and vegetables. Plant proteins are considered not complete. A single source of plant protein does not contain all the essential amino acids if taken without proper combinations. Nevertheless, the right combination of plant sources will provide a meal which contains all the essential amino acids. Vegetarian diet is practiced for religious, health, economical, ecological or philosophical reasons.


Vegetarians can be classified into three main groups as follows:

  • Vegan
    Eats sources from plant only.
  • Lacto-vegetarian
    Eats sources from plant, milk and dairy products.
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian
    Eats sources from plant, milk, dairy products and egg.

Diet Characteristic

Lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets contain all the essential amino acids. These diets provide enough nutrients if the quantity is sufficient. Whereas for vegan, proper food group combinations is required to fulfill daily nutrient requirement.

Vegetarian diet can be complete with essential amino acids if the protein sources are from at least two out of the following four food groups:

Protein Food Group

Group 1

Grains, grain products and tubers such as rice, wheat, corn, rice products (rice noodle, laksa), wheat products (bread, flour), barley, oats, potato, yam, tapioca and others.

Group 2

Milk and dairy products such as cheese, milk, yoghurt, milk curd, paneer (Indian cheese), ice-cream with milk and others.

Group 3

Legumes such as peanuts, green beans, green peas, lentils, red beans, chickpeas, soya beans and soya products such as bean curd, soya bean sheet (fucuk), fermented soya bean (tempe) and others.

Group 4

Seeds such as watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and other seeds.

Food Group Combination

Combination of any two protein food groups as shown by the arrows in the diagram below will provide a complete protein diet. These group combinations should be taken at least one serving every meal.

Meal Samples

No. Group Meal

Group 1 dan Group 2

Bread and Milk or Dairy Products

  • Chapatti or puree with yogurt
  • Bread with cheese

Rice and Milk or Dairy Products

  • Rice with thick yoghurt curry
  • Rice pudding made of milk

Barley and Milk or Dairy Products

  • Soup made of barley and milk or yoghurt

Cereals and Milk

  • Oats with milk
Group 2 dan Group 3

Milk or Dairy Products and Legumes

  • Tosai with yoghurt or yoghurt curry
  • Lentil or chickpeas cooked with cheese or paneer (Indian cheese)
  • Black-eyed peas in  yoghurt curry
  • Tosai and dalca with milk
Group 3 dan Group 4

Seeds and Legumes

  • Sunflower seed paste added to red bean paste for bread or filling in kuih
  • Sesame seeds added to rojak petis which contains peanuts
Group 4 dan Group 1

Seeds and Bread

  • Lotus seed paste in bun or pastry
Group 1 dan Group 3

Legumes and Rice

  • Bean sprouts, bean curd, tempe or dalca with rice

Legumes and Bread

  • Dalca and chapatti or puree
  • Baked beans with bread
  • Peanut butter with bread
  • Mung bean sweet porridge (bubur kacang hijau) with bun

Legumes and Noodles

  • Noodles with rojak gravy
  • Fried rice-noodles with bean curd and taucu
Last reviewed : 20 Ogos 2020
Writer : Zarina binti Samsudin
Reviewer : Nik Mahani binti Nik Mahmood