It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy



Ask Dr. Gourmet

Should I eat vegetarian meals more often than I eat meat?

Currently I'm just returning to an exercise program after giving it somewhat up for over 3 years. I am looking to lose over 80 lbs. I have wiped soda pop out and have somewhat given up red meats. My Dr. said I might wish to relook at giving up my consumption of all meat and take in fish and chicken. Might you have some words for me on this idea of making vegetarian more often than the meaty days? What are healthy alternatives in days with meat?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a slice of vegetarian lasagna on a white plate garnished with fresh oregano

It sounds as if your attitude is fantastic and you are on the right track. Exercise is key to being healthy, whether one needs to lose weight or not. Not drinking soda is a fantastic decision. This is one of the easiest ways to take in calories that do little for your health but put on so much extra weight.

You don't have to completely eliminate red meat to lose weight. A good rule of thumb is to have red meat about once per week and fish or shellfish three times per week. The other three days can be split between poultry and vegetarian meals. There are so many choices for eating healthy vegetarian meals. Pastas and pizzas could keep you busy for a good long time, but there are also recipes like risottos, ratatouille, eggplant parmesan, and gnocchis. Here are just a few of the vegetarian recipes on the Dr. Gourmet website:

Baked Penne
Butternut Squash Risotto
Chili Rellenos
Chopped Salad Tacos
Creamy Mac and Cheese
Eggplant Parmesan
Fettucine Alfredo
All Vegetarian Main Course Recipes »

Soups are another good choice. There are lots of hearty soups that make a fantastic centerpiece to your dinner. A great bowl of minestrone with a salad and crusty Italian bread... that's living.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet