Debbie King MS RD LD

My passion for nutrition began when I took a college nutrition class. I have worked as a Clinical Dietitian, Director of Nutrition Services, and for several years as Mom. When my youngest left for college I decided to return to my passion of sharing the health benefits of eating vegetarian meals. I enjoy teaching nutrition, volunteering in my community, and working as the Web Editor for the Vegetarian Nutrition website. Visit Debbie's website →

More posts by Debbie King MS RD LD

Does eating a vegetarian diet help you live longer?

Therapeutic Use of Vegetarian/Vegan Diets in Chronic DiseaseResearch reveals that when a person chooses to follow a vegetarian diet they may find it reduces the risks of many chronic diseases.  A vegetarian diet may treat, improve, or reverse the following:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Digestive problems

Following a vegetarian diet may also provide beneficial results in the treatment for cancer and kidney disease.

Will a vegetarian diet  improve your health? Download our resource Therapeutic Use of Vegetarian/Vegan Diets in Chronic Disease (PDF) and experience the potential benefits of choosing a well-balanced vegetarian diet.

How To Feed A Vegetarian Teenager

  • Vegetarian Teens ResourceDid your teenager recently become a vegetarian?
  • Will your teenager no longer eat your meatloaf, baked chicken, or fish?
  • Do you want to support your teenager’s pursuit of a healthy vegetarian/vegan diet?

Then check out the resource Vegetarian Teens (PDF). This guide provides the tools teenagers (and their families) need to choose healthy foods that insure their diet supplies the nutrients needed to continue growing well.

What is zinc? Why do I need zinc?

Zinc in Vegetarian Diets resourceZinc can be found all organs, tissues and fluids in the body. Zinc provides many functions including:

  • Optimal growth and development
  • Reproduction
  • Appetite
  • Taste ability
  • Night vision.
  • Proper function of the immune system.

Zinc is widely available from many types of foods, so deficiency is rare in North Americans including vegetarians.  The problem arises from phytate, a compound found in grains, nuts, and legumes that reduce our body’s ability to absorb zinc from these foods.

Download our FREE full-color Zinc in Vegetarian Diets resource and discover how to maximize the absorption of zinc from plant foods, choose foods high in zinc, and get menu ideas.

How to Create a Vegetarian Lunchbox

Vegetarian Nutrition for School-Aged ChildrenDoes the pediatrician, your child’s teacher, or total strangers look at you skeptically when you say you are raising your children vegetarian?  Rest assured you are not alone.  Choosing to feed your children a vegetarian can provide all the nutrients for them to grow and be healthy.

Do you want the facts on how to plan a healthy vegetarian diet? Download the FREE Vegetarian Diets for School-aged Children (PDF) resource. In it you will find —

  • Good food sources of important Nutrients
  • Calorie needs for a growing child
  • Meal Ideas
  • Tips on creating a menu

Print your copy of Vegetarian Diets for School-aged Children today and you will have the tools to win over your toughest skeptic.

Vegetarian Myth Busters


Thinking about becoming a #vegan, #vegetarian, or switching to a #plant-based eating plan?

Do questions like this pop into your head?

  • Can I get enough protein?
  • Will my bones stay strong if I just eat plants?
  • Do vegan children grow properly?
  • Does soy cause breast cancer?

Discover the science based information that will inspire you to start creating vegetarian meals. Bust the myths — read 5 Myths About Building a Healthy Vegetarian Meal.

Already a #vegan or #vegetarian and want additional information about planning meals? Check out our FREE downloadable Resources on healthy meatless eating for all age groups.

Recommended Resources

Vegetarian/Vegan Myths ResourceVegetarian/Vegan Myths (PDF) provides information on how plant-based diets provide all the necessary nutrition for healthy diets free of animal food sources.

Vegetarian Toddlers Preschoolers RDLooking for ideas to go Meatless? (PDF) Follow these tips for including meatless meals into your family’s diet.

View all of our free Vegetarian Nutrition resources

Breaking the Fast

cereal with fruitThe word breakfast literally comes from the Breaking of the Fast. Before we had electric lights everywhere, when the sun went to bed, so did we. There was no midnight snack because we were up before the dawn and sacked out through the night after a hard day in our agrarian lifestyle. The biggest meal was at lunch when we had the most light with which to cook it. The evening supper consisted of a simpler fare and was the last food eaten before a long slumber.  Generally, there was about 10 to 12 hours between the last meal and breakfast. However, in the 24-7 fast paced 2009, it is a different story.

Many people I counsel eat later and later. They eat dessert while watching TV after work. Many tell me they just aren’t hungry in the morning. Here are some interesting facts I read from Dr. Caroline J. Cederquist.

Continue reading…

Feeding Healthy Vegan Infants and Children

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD shares the science of feeding vegan infants.

I am deeply saddened when I see headlines such as “Vegan Baby Hospitalized for Severe Malnutrition” or “Vegan Couple Sentenced to Life over Baby’s Death.” These tragedies are needless and could easily be prevented by following some basic guidelines for infant feeding.

infantFor the first 6 months after birth, babies should ideally be given breast milk and only breast milk. That’s according to not only the American Academy of Pediatrics but also the World Health Organization. If breast feeding is not possible, a commercial infant formula is the only other alternative. That’s it, for the first 6 months. Juice, cereals, plant milks, even soy milk are not the right foods for young infants and can lead to inadequate nutrition. Breast milk and formula contain readily absorbed nutrients with ratios of protein, fat and carbohydrate that support the baby’s growth. Breastfeeding should continue at least through the first year with infant formula the only safe alternative as a primary beverage. When solids are introduced, after age 6 months, vegan infants should be given nutritious foods such as pureed fruits and vegetables, strained or mashed beans, tofu, and infant cereals. Vegan diets can easily meet an older infant’s or toddler’s needs for protein, vitamins, and minerals.

If we look closely into the news reports of malnourished “vegan” infants, we see that they’ve been given “mainly soy milk and apple juice” or that they have “multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies.” Infants whose mothers are well-nourished and who are breastfeeding successfully or who are getting adequate infant formula are not going to have multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Just as for any other infant, breastfed vegan infants need supplements of iron and vitamin D. Deficiencies of iron, calcium, and other nutrients that are reported in sensational news stories point to a lack of knowledge on the part of parents about what constitutes a healthy diet for an infant. Yes, it does take time and thought to feed infants and young children nutritious diets but the result is worth it.

For more information download our  simple guides for feeding vegan or vegetarian infants and toddlers.

Vegetarian Infants RDVegetarian Infants (PDF) offers tips for breastfeeding and formula feeding during the early months of a life. When it is time to add solid food, parents will discover lists of the foods that provide the best sources of iron, zinc, calcium, Vitamin B12 and other nutrients essential for a growing infant.

Vegetarian Toddlers Preschoolers RDVegetarian Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers (PDF) provides information for parents and childcare providers who are planning vegetarian meals for toddlers and preschoolers.

What Plant Foods Provide Iron?

  • Iron in Vegetarian Diets ResourceAre you finding enough iron in your vegetarian diet?
  • Do you know what foods help your body absorb the iron you eat?
  • Should you take an iron supplement?

Iron deficiency anemia is a worldwide problem and often vegetarian and vegan diets are viewed as at risk for this nutrient deficiency.  Use the resource Iron in Vegetarian Diets  to discover –

  • Evidence-based research on the iron status of vegetarians
  • The best plant sources for iron
  • How vitamin C increases iron absorption

Also available in the Iron in Vegetarian Diets  resource are the requirements for athletes following any type of  vegetarian diet.


Do vegan children get enough iron?

Iron in Vegetarian Diets ResourceIron deficiency anemia is a worldwide problem and often vegetarian and vegan diets are viewed as at risk for this nutrient deficiency.  Use Iron in Vegetarian Diets (PDF) to discover –

  • Evidence-based research on the iron status of vegetarians
  • The best plant sources for iron
  • How vitamin C increases iron absorption

Can a vegetarian get enough protein?

Vegetarian and vegan diets provide adequate protein when menu planning focuses on how much your body needs and which plant foods provide this essential nutrient. Protein is made of amino acids which are the building blocks for our muscles and many other structures in the body. So it is important to consume a wide variety of protein-rich plant foods in meals and snacks throughout the day.

Protein in Vegetarian and Vegan Diets RD ResourceThe free downloadable resource Protein in Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (PDF) provides the tools you need to consume plenty of protein from plant foods. Discover –

  • How to calculate the body’s need for protein
  • A chart listing Protein-rich Plant Foods
  • Tips on how to plan meals with adequate protein

Download this tool and learn the facts about getting adequate Protein in Vegetarian and Vegan Diets (PDF).

Five Tips for Creating Meatless Family Meals

Healthy Tips for Meatless MealsCheckout Healthy Tips for Meatless Meals from Kids Eat Right a website sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

In the Healthy Tips for Meatless Meals you will find five tips for feeding your family more fruits, vegetables, whole grains,  beans, and nuts every day. Also discover how easy it is to feed your family meals with out meat.

Download “Healthy Tips for Meatless Meals” »

Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy

Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy resourceCan I continue my vegan diet during pregnancy?
I’m vegetarian and pregnant what can I eat?

Making great food choices during pregnancy is vital for all women.  This includes eating a variety of foods, which are full of nutrients and calories to meet the needs of mother and baby. If you are choosing any type of vegetarian diet during pregnancy there will be questions about what you are eating.  Will you get enough protein, folate, iron, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, and other nutrients.  Be prepared to answer YES with this FREE on-line resource Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy.

Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy provides menu plans, how to stay hydrated, keeping a healthy weight, and staying active. It also provides how much of a nutrient is needed and what foods provide nutrient rich sources of:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc

Be prepared — download Vegetarian Diets in Pregnancy today .  Then you will have the tools to make healthy food choices and answer “YES, a vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients and calories needed by mothers and babies.”

Also available in the Resources/FAQ section of this website are the following:

  • Dietas vegetarianas durante el embarazo  (Spanish version)
  • Vegetarian Diets in Lactation
  • Vegetarian Diets in Infants
  • Vegetarian Diets in Toddlers and Preschoolers
  • Vegetarian Diets in School-aged Children
  • Vegetarian Teens

Are soy foods safe to eat?

  • resource-safety-of-soyfoodsCan men eat soy?
  • Does eating soy cause breast cancer?
  • Can I feed soy to my children?

If want the facts about eating soy foods, download the FREE Safety of Soy Resource. These easy to read fact sheet which will answer your questions about eating tofu, edamame, and veggie foods.

Did you know that soyfoods can reduce the symptoms of menopause?

Health Effects of SoyThere are many misconceptions about soyfoods, but numerous research studies confirm that soy is safe. Soyfoods like tofu, soymilk, miso, and tempeh provide significant amounts of isoflavones, a plant chemical that offers health benefits beyond the nutrients in food.

So how does soy help with menopause?  It’s in the isoflavones. Over 50 research studies reveal that women who consume isoflavone supplements cut in about half the number and severity of hot flashes.

Don’t wait print your copy of our FREE Resource Health Effects of Soy today!

Vegan/Vegetarian and diagnosed with Celiac Disease (CeD)*?

Eating a plant-based diet with CeD means your body has zero tolerance for gluten which is found in plant foods that are also rich in protein.  Wheat, rye, and barley are common in vegan and vegetarian diets but for optimal health a person with CeD must avoid them.

Combining Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free DietsIf you are a vegetarian or vegan with CeD missing the key nutrients in these grains, means you must find other foods to meet your body’s needs. Download the free resource Combining Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Free Diets (PDF) and discover the tools for combining a gluten-free diet with vegan or vegetarian food choices.

  • What foods supply Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Gluten-free Vegetarian foods high in Iron and Zinc
  • Hidden Sources of Gluten
  • How to increase your fiber intake

Find the tools you need when Combining Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Free Diets (PDF), download it today!

*Celiac disease (CeD) is an autoimmune disease that should be diagnosed by a physician before eliminating gluten from your diet as that could cause a false test result.

What do you feed a vegan toddler? Can a vegetarian preschooler get enough protein?

vegetarian toddlersToddlers and Preschoolers want to eat what their parents eat.  It is essential in these early years to establish healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. A vegan or vegetarian diet can provide all the protein, calcium, iron, and other nutrients needed by your growing child. 

Learn more about feeding all types of vegetarian diets to children from 1-5 years old in the colorful downloadable resource Vegetarian Nutrition for Toddlers and Preschoolers.

Raising Vegetarian Infants

Vegetarian Infants RD ResourceCan I raise a vegetarian baby?
What foods can I feed my vegan baby?
How do make sure my baby is healthy?

If you are asking these questions then you need the resource Vegetarian Infants (PDF). This 2-page downloadable sheet offers tips for breastfeeding and formula feeding during the early months of a life. When it is time to add solid food, parents will discover lists of the foods that provide the best sources of iron, zinc, calcium, Vitamin B12 and other nutrients essential for a growing infant.