The Health Promotion Board of Singapore publishes several sorts of dietary guidelines, some of which relate to vegetarian and vegan diets.

Health Promotion Board, Birth to eighteen years, dietary tips for your child’s wellbeing, 2012, Singapore. Page 26:


Can I serve my child a vegetarian diet?

If you are considering a vegetarian diet for your child, very special care must be paid to ensure that all his nutritional needs are met. Vegetarian diets can be high in fibre, but low in energy, iron and certain vitamins, especially vitamin B12.

Ideally a dietitian or doctor should be consulted to help you plan your child’s vegetarian diet and to advise the need for supplementation, especially for vitamin B12. An easy way to plan a balanced vegetarian diet is to use the Healthy Diet Pyramid. Whole-grains, fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds should be a part of the vegetarian diet. Adequate amounts of pulses (beans and lentils) and beancurd should also be included in place of meat to provide sufficient protein. Dairy products, if permitted, can provide calcium and protein to your child’s diet.”

Health promotion board, ABC of Healthy Eating, 2005, Singapore. Page 4:


If you are a vegetarian

The Healthy Diet Pyramid can be used to plan a vegetarian diet that meets the nutrient needs of healthy adults. Pulses (e.g. beans, peas, lentils) are good sources of protein. They are also part of the meat and alternatives group on the Pyramid.

For a balanced diet, include one plant-based protein food in every meal.”


Page 25:

“Vegetarians can get their omega-3 fat from dried peas, beans and nuts.”



A Vegetarian's Guide to Eating Right (Health Promotion Board)


Enjoy the vegetarian way of eating? Then, read on to pick up a few useful tips to help you eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet that provides the vital nutrients you need to be healthy and stay well.


Many individuals choose to be vegetarian for a variety of reasons ranging from religious to ethical and social. There is no single vegetarian pattern as many practice vegetarianism differently. Vegans eat only food of plant origin, lacto-vegetarians include milk, lacto-ovo vegetarians include both milk and eggs, and pesco-vegetarians eat fish. Interestingly, some individuals are vegetarians on certain days of the week, while others go on extended periods of vegetarian eating almost akin to a fast. With all these vegetarian eating styles being so different, the nutritional challenges vary.

The good news is that there is evidence that a well-balanced and healthy vegetarian diet is associated with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), lower blood cholesterol levels and reduced risk of death from heart disease. If you are a vegetarian or are interested in becoming one, here are some practical tips to eat towards better nutritional balance.

1. Include enough plant proteins

One common temptation in modern vegetarian eating styles is to make up meals that only include rice or noodles with vegetables. While you abstain from food of animal origin, remember to replace them with plant proteins. If you are new to vegetarian ways, you can try to follow traditional vegetarian eating patterns.

  • Chinese vegetarian cuisines include soy-based products such as tofu and taukwa or mock meat as part of the main meals. Delicious desserts made of dried beans, nuts and seeds also provide protein to complete the meal.
  • Indian vegetarian meals serve up savoury lentils and dried whole legumes to complement the main meals. Incorporating yoghurt also peps up the protein content of the diet.
  • Examples of a serving of plant protein are half a package of tofu (150g) or cup (120g) of cooked pulses (peas, beans, lentils). You need to aim for 2 to 3 servings a day. So include enough through your main meals and snacks to reach your daily protein goals.

Plant proteins, except soy, are usually short of one essential amino acid needed to make body proteins. In the past, you may have heard of complementing your plant protein choice at every meal with grains, nuts or seeds. But now, we know that as long as you eat a balanced diet, one that includes grains, nuts and seeds food that include the missing amino acids your diet will include all the amino acids it needs to build and repair proteins in the body efficiently.

2. Go for great balance

Vegetarians too must eat a well-balanced diet. The Healthy Diet Pyramid (HDP) provides the best guidance for selecting a variety of food from each of the 4 food groups in the correct proportions. Learn more about the HDP here.

3. Watch out for nutritional shortfalls

Vegetarian diets may tend to be short on iron, calcium and vitamin B12. So, here is a ready reference for plant sources of these key nutrients:

Nutrients major Vegetarian Sources

  • Iron: Green leafy vegetables, lentils, legumes, iron fortified food and dried fruit
  • Vitamin B12: Tempeh, dairy products, eggs, fortified products (e.g. cereals)
  • Calcium: Dairy products, green leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified products such as soybean milk, water, juice, cereal, bread, biscuits; tofu made with calcium salts
  • Zinc: Wholegrains, nuts and legumes

Strict vegetarians (vegans) may have to include a daily supplement to meet the vitamin B12 goal. Depending on the type of vegetarianism you practice, other vitamin and mineral supplements may also be necessary, particularly iron and calcium. Consult a healthcare professional about your supplement needs.

4. Keep your choices low in fat

Plant proteins are naturally free of cholesterol and low in fat, especially saturated fat. But, many vegetarian cuisines tend to add a lot of fat and deep fry food to serve up popular and delicious dishes. So, keep your vegetarian diet healthier by cooking it with less fat and using unsaturated oils more often.

5. Moderate added salt

Many chefs use salt and sodium-containing seasonings and taste enhancers to add flavour to vegetarian dishes. While many plant food are naturally healthful, you need to keep them so by cooking them well.

If you want an additional boost of flavour, select fresh and wholesome ingredients, step up the amount of herbs and spices you add to food. Soybeans, mushrooms and tomatoes are naturally great sources of the umami flavour that many enjoy. So, prepare a delicious stock and keep it on hand to add zest to your cooking.

6. Select whole grains more often

To improve your vegetarian diet just a notch, include whole grains. Change your regular choice of white rice to wholegrain, white bread to wholemeal bread, beehoon to brown rice beehoon, and pasta to wholegrain pasta. These food are good sources of many valuable nutrients such as fibre, B vitamins and vitamin E.

Clever ways to introduce the more nutritious whole grains is to combine a little into your regular refined choice or make wholegrains your preferred choice at one of your main meals.

So Remember...

Eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet that includes grains, vegetables, fruit and plant-based protein-rich food such as lentils, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Take particular care to include food items that are good sources of calcium, iron and zinc. Strict vegetarians may need to include a daily supplement of vitamin B12.
Make healthier food choices that are lower in salt, fat and saturated fat. Select wholegrain food more often.

Accessed 28/09/2013:


Myths about Weight Loss

Myth 2    :    Going vegetarian means I am sure to lose weight and be healthier.
Fact    :
    Vegetarian food can be high in fat or sugar content if they are not prepared healthily. Calories from deep fried or heavily sweetened vegetarian foods can still cause you to gain weight. Therefore, make sure you choose vegetarian options which are prepared using less fat and less sugar.

Also, some nutrients our body require are more easily found in animal products. To stay healthy, plan your diet to make sure it includes all the essential nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and zinc.

Accessed 28/09/2013: