To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “A Vegetarian Diet: Good for Your Body, Good for the Planet,” by Nancy Berkoff, R.D., C.C.E., A.A.C., in the March 2013 issue. Article summary: Eating fewer animal-based foods has long been associated with helping to prevent many types of disease. Also, raising animals uses land, water and food sources that could go directly to humans instead. And vegetable-based diets can be simply delicious.


A vegetarian lifestyle is a personal decision and does not need to be a permanent or all-in decision. There are many ways to incorporate vegetarianism into your life. Your health and the planet will say thank you.


If you’d like to make any of your regular recipes vegetarian, simply swap out dairy and meat for vegetarian ingredients.


  • 1 cup mashed, firm tofu for 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup soy, rice, grain or almond milk for 1 cup cow’s milk
  • 2 tablespoons pureed, firm tofu for 1 large egg
  • 1 cup soy yogurt or 1 cup pureed silken tofu with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for 1 cup cow’s milk yogurt
  • 1 cup soy sour cream for 1 cup cow’s milk sour cream
  • 3 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for 1 ounce milk chocolate
  • 1 pound cubed firm tofu or 12 ounces crumbled seitan or tempeh for 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup sorbet or tofu or rice ice cream for 1 cup cow’s milk ice cream

Veggie Burger Wrap

Makes one serving

Cook up an extra veggie burger or tofu dog (the recipe works just as well with tofu dogs) from dinner. This recipe can also be made the night before or prepared in the morning.

  • 1 cooked veggie burger, diced
  • 2 slices tomato, diced
  • 1 slice onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 3 slices pickle
  • 1 6-inch tortilla or pita bread

1. In a saucepan, combine veggie burger, tomato, onion, ketchup and mustard. Heat on medium for 12 minutes or until warmed through.

2. Place lettuce and pickles on tortilla or pita. Spread veggie burger mixture on top of lettuce. Roll tightly and eat right away or pack for a portable meal.

3. Variations:

  • Mediterranean: Instead of ketchup, mustard and pickle, use 2 tablespoons of pizza or spaghetti sauce and 1 tablespoon sliced olives.
  • Southwestern: Instead of ketchup, mustard and pickle, use 2 tablespoons salsa, 1 teaspoon chopped chilies or bell peppers and 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce.
  • Middle Eastern: Instead of ketchup, mustard and pickle, use 2 tablespoons humus, 1 teaspoon mayo, 1 teaspoon sliced green olives and 1/2 teaspoon paprika.
  • Barbecue: Instead of ketchup, use 2 teaspoons of barbecue sauce.
  • Curried: Instead of ketchup, use 2 teaspoons mayo and add 1 teaspoon curry powder.

Almost Thai Spicy Peanut Pasta

Makes two servings

Make this dish as hot or mild as you like for a change-of-pace pasta.

  • 4 ounces uncooked fettuccini or angel hair pasta
  • 1/2 cup peeled carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1. Cook fettuccini according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Steam carrots and peas until tender. Drain and set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, red pepper flakes, hot sauce, oil, soy sauce, orange juice concentrate and peanut butter and cook on medium, stirring frequently, until smooth.

4. After cooking, whisk for a very smooth sauce.

5. In a medium bowl, combine pasta, carrots and peas and sauce. Toss to coat pasta. Serve hot or cold.

Basic Veggie Burgers

Makes 8-10 burgers

This is a great way to use leftover veggies. If you don’t have the tofu used in this recipe, you can substitute prepared and cooled mashed potatoes.

  • 1 1/2 cups canned sliced carrots, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 1 1/2 cups canned cut green beans, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto or red beans
  • 2 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted margarine
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons silken tofu
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Place carrots, green beans and pinto beans in a blender or food processor and puree until almost smooth.

3. Place mixture in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients until well combined. If mixture is too thick, add some of the reserved carrot liquid; if it is too thin, add additional breadcrumbs.

4. Form mixture into burgers and place on nonstick baking sheet, or spray with vegetable oil spray.

5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and lightly browned.

6. This mixture can instead be pressed into a loaf pan and baked as a loaf.

Nancy Berkoff, R.D., C.C.E., A.A.C., is a food technologist, registered dietitian and certified chef. She divides her time between food writing, consulting to the food industry and consumers, and food, nutrition and culinary instruction. Berkoff has had the opportunity to teach and consult about food in Europe, Asia and Central America, and is a freelance editor for the Vegetarian Resource Council (