Vegetarian Military Diet: How to Stay Fit Without Meat

Bravo cheddar and crackers
Angie Moore
Written by Angie Moore

If you strictly follow all the steps on the 3 days military diet then you will see some nice results at the end of those 3 days. But what happens if you are a vegetarian or there are foods that you can’t eat? Does that mean you can’t follow the diet and you’re supposed to look for something else? The answer to this question is NO! There is a vegetarian military diet that offers substitutes for foods that you can’t include in your menu.

One thing to remember in here: it’s not the quantity that matters it’s the calories. I’m highlighting this because, if you follow the list on the vegetarian diet, you might have a fuller plate than you would have on the normal military diet. However, the amount of calories on each meal will be the correct amount. At the same time you might find the foods that are on the list not so satisfying because there is less protein to keep you full. You can also check out how eggs are beneficial in the military diet for more information.

For example, if you are a vegetarian or you just don’t like tuna, you can replace it with almonds. But you have to be very careful about this. Let’s say that one can of tuna will give you about 200 calories. Well, if you make the substitution, you will have to give up on an entire can of tuna for about 20 almonds. The trade doesn’t look fair right?

Almonds in the hand

If you let your eyes deceive you and consider 20 almonds to be too little food, you can say goodbye to your diet (and your figure, by the way). Almonds are very high in fats and they will ruin any diet if you go over the limit.

See also: 3 Day Military Diet Substitutes: Learning About Foods, Calories, & Dieting

This is just an example of why you don’t have to underestimate the size of your food. You will have to choose wisely those substitutes otherwise you will just feel hungrier and hungrier and you won’t be able to resist the entire diet.

Vegetarian substitutes for the military diet

Now, let’s talk about the foods that you can eat as a vegetarian during this diet. We will also mention other substitutes for those cases when you’re not a vegetarian, but you’re allergic to a specific type of food (or foods).

Substitutes for Day 1


  • ½ grapefruit
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter (32 g)
  • 1 slice of toast
  • Coffee


  • ½ grapefruit = 52 calories
  • Baking soda + water = 0 calories
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter = 188 calories
  • 2 tbsp. soy butter = 170 calories
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter = 196 calories
  • 2 tbsp. hummus = 50 calories
  • 2 tbsp. pumpkin butter = 80 calories
  • 2 tbsp. sunflower seed butter = 198 calories
  • 2 tbsp. bean dip = 35 calories
  • 1 slice of toast (24 g) = 75 calories
  • 2 rice cakes = 70 calories
  • 1 small tortilla = 94 calories
  • ½ cup of whole grain cereal = 57 calories
  • For the protein bar you will have to look on the pack to see how many calories it has
  • 1 cup of coffee = 5 calories
  • 1 cup of green tea = 5 calories
  • 1 250 ml can of sugar free Red Bull = 8 calories

If you are one of those persons who just don’t like the taste of grapefruit then you can substitute it with a ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. I’m sure that thought that an orange would be a better idea but it’s not. The grapefruit and the baking soda will improve your PH level and that will lead to fat burning, a thing that oranges can’t do.

Military diet day 1 for vegetarians

Many people are allergic to peanuts, so you can easily substitute the same amount of the peanut butter with soy butter, almond butter, hummus, pumpkin butter, sunflower seed butter or even 2 tbsp. of sunflower seeds or bean dip.

If you just want to follow a diet where there is no bread involved (even if it’s just 1 slice of toast) you can always chose to replace it with rice cake, tortilla, ½ cup of  whole grain cereal or ½ high protein bar.

If you don’t like coffee, green tea is the best substitute. Don’t use any sugar and especially stay away from artificial sweeteners. Here’s our guide on military diet sweeteners allowed in the diet. If you can’t stay away from energy drinks then you can drink sugar-free Red Bull. A regular cup of coffee has 100 mgs of caffeine while a sugar free Red Bull has 76 mgs of caffeine.


I already mentioned the substitutes for the coffee and toast so all that remains here is tuna.

  • ½ cup of tuna

If you just don’t like tuna then you are free to eat cottage cheese.

Cup of tuna

Or chicken but if you are a vegetarian the substitutes for the tuna are almonds (just like I said in that example at the beginning) or pumpkin seeds.


  • ½ cup of tuna = 89 calories
  • 100 grams cottage cheese = 98 calories
  • 50 gram of chicken = 82 calories
  • 12 almonds = 84 calories
  • 5 tbsp. of pumpkin seeds = 90 calories (1 tbsp. = 4 g)


  • 3 ounces of any meat
  • 1 cup of green beans
  • ½ banana
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 cup of vanilla ice cream


  • 3 ounces of meat = 200 calories
  • 1 tbsp. (12 g) beans = 42 calories so you will have to eat approx. 57 grams of beans
  • 100 grams tofu = 76 calories so you will have to eat approx. 250 grams of tofu to reach 190 calories
  • 100 grams Portobello mushrooms = 22 calories so you will have to eat 900 grams to reach 198 calories
  • 100 g green beans = 31 calories
  • 100 g lettuce = 15 calories
  • 100 g spinach = 23 calories
  • 100 g tomatoes = 18 calories
  • ½ banana = 50 calories
  • 1 small papaya = 67 calories
  • 100 grams of kiwi = 61 calories
  • 100 grams of apricots = 48 calories
  • 1 small apple = 53 calories
  • 1 small peaches = 51 calories
  • 80 grams grapes = 54 calories
  • 100 grams plums = 46 calories
  • 1 large zucchini = 54 calories
  • 100 grams pears = 57 calories
  • 21 grams dried apricots = 51 calories
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream = 274 calories
  • 2 cups apple juice = 226 calories
  • 1 cup fruit flavored yogurt = 221 calories

Well here you can chose whatever meat you like but if you are a vegetarian you can chose between beans, tofu, lentils and Portobello mushrooms.

If you were terrorized with green beans when you were a kid and you don’t like them now then you can substitute them with lettuce, spinach, tomatoes or any other green vegetables.

If you are one of those persons who hate bananas then you can replace them with papaya, kiwi or apricots.

Military diet dinner

If the apples are a problem for you then you can eat peaches, grapes, plums, zucchini, pears or dried apricots.

I know that lots of you out there were very skeptical about the ice cream part but also there are many who just love the idea. Well if you want to eat something else then you can try 1 cup of fruit flavored yogurt or apple juice. Another good substitute is the almond milk who has flavors like banana, strawberry or vanilla. But don’t even think about changing it with chocolate almond milk. That’s not for the diet.

Food substitutes for Day 2


  • 1 egg


  • 1 egg = 78 calories
  • 2 slices of bacon = 86 calories
  • 1 chicken wing = 81 calories
  • 10 nuts = 85 calories

I’ve already discussed about substitutes for banana and for that 1 slice of toast. So, the only food that remains to discuss for breakfast on day 2 is the egg.

You can substitute the egg with a cup of milk, 2 slices of bacon, 1 chicken wing or if you are a vegetarian you can try ¼ cup of seeds or nuts.


  • 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • 5 saltine crackers


  • 1 cup of cottage cheese = 222 calories
  • 3 eggs = 234 calories
  • ½ cup of ricotta cheese = 214 calories
  • 2 slices of cheddar cheese = 226 calories
  • 140 grams of ham = 203 calories
  • 1 cup of plain greek yogurt = 200 calories
  • 300 grams of tofu = 228 calories
  • 1 saltine cracker = 13 calories. 5 * 13 = 65 calories
  • 2 rice cakes = 70 calories

You can substitute this with ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, ham, egg, plain greek yogurt or tofu.

Cottage cheese and crackers

If you want to substitute the saltine crackers then the rice cakes are perfect for this. But if you already thought that any other cracker will do then be careful to calculate the amount of calories.


  • 1 cup of broccoli
  • ½ cup of carrots


  • 1 cup of broccoli = 55 calories
  • 200 grams of spinach = 46 calories
  • 200 grams of cauliflower = 50 calories
  • 250 grams of asparagus = 50 calories
  • 120 grams of Brussel sprouts = 52 calories
  • 100 grams of carrots = 41 calories
  • 100 grams of beets = 43 calories
  • 60 grams of parsnip = 45 calories
  • 100 grams bell pepper = 40 calories
  • 250 grams of celery = 40 calories

If you want to substitute the broccoli then you have to eat another greenish vegetable like spinach, cauliflower, asparagus or Brussel sprouts. Check out our list of fat-busting vegetables you can try, do read our piece on that topic.

Broccoli and carrots

If you are afraid that you will transform into a bunny then you can substitute the carrots with beets, parsnip, bell pepper or celery.

I have already told you about the rest of the food that you are supposed to eat for the rest of the day so let’s see what’s left for day 3.

Food substitutes for Day 3


  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese


  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese (1oz) = 113 calories
  • 1 70 grams egg = 108 calories
  • 120 grams of cottage cheese = 118 calories
  • 80 grams of ham = 116 calories
  • 210 ml of soy milk = 114 calories
  • 45 grams of soy cheese = 112 calories
  • 150 grams of tofu = 114 calories
  • 450 grams of cabbage = 112 calories

Some substitutes for this are eggs, cottage cheese or ham. But if you are a vegetarian the substitutes for you are soy milk, soy cheese, tofu and cabbage.

Slice of cheddar cheese

On the third day there is only the cheddar cheese that is new in the menu so that’s why we’re only discussing one item. Any other food items included in day 3 of the diet can be found on the first or the second day.

Some Final Words

I really hope that this list with substitutes will help you out regardless of the fact that you are vegetarians or not. Every one of us has different preferences on food and if you don’t like something, this diet is flexible enough so you can enjoy it at maximum.

If you have any questions feel free to ask us and if you’ve tried the substitutes list tell us how it worked on you.

About the author
Angie Moore
Angie Moore

Angie brings a mix of knowledge and experience in diet creation and fitness best practices. With Kansas State University‘s bachelor’s degree in dietetics and over 7 years of experience working with thousands of clients to better their life, Angie is passionate about your health and well-being. She is also a well-known foodie, having published a few books about diets that work. For most of the time, you can find her in the gym working out with friends and clients, pushing them for top results and fulfilled life.

  • Keith Baker

    I like most of the substitutions but I think if you want to lose weight and improve your health, you would not choose to substitute the grape fruit for baking soda and water. It’s not just the calories but think of the vitamin c, fiber, potassium and other nutrients you would miss out on if you choose the baking soda and water route. Grapefruit is also known to be helpful for weight loss as well lowering blood glucose levels. As much as possible focus on the nutrition too and not just the calories.

  • Ann Murphy

    My eyes lit up when I saw the hummus and bean dip substitute. I love this savory substitute for peanut butter on a chewy, soft tortilla! It is high in fiber but I don’t even think of them as health food but party snack food. It’s one of the few things I can easily make at home without any sweat.

  • Angie Moore

    Hi Keith and thanks for your valuable input. The military diet is quite flexible. So, if you have any food allergies or other food preferences other than the food included in the meal plan, you can modify it to suit your taste.
    Some people I know can’t tolerate grapefruit and they are pleased that the military diet gives them the option to choose from a list of substitute foods. Most diets don’t give you that option.

  • Jean Bell

    For day 1, the 2 rice cakes substitute for one piece of toast might work better for me and make me feel fuller. I have seen bloggers put peanut butter on it too and bananas. I’m wondering if I can eat the banana in the Day 1 dinner during Day 1 breakfast instead? I noticed that dinner for Day 1 already has a cup of green beans, 1 apple and 1 cup of vanilla ice cream. I don’t think I can eat them all in one meal but I think I still have room for that 1/2 banana during breakfast.

  • Angie Moore

    What people love about the military diet is that the meal plans constitute of food selections that are available locally. No fancy stuff or exotic food that can be quite expensive. No need for tedious food preparation or cooking.
    I also love the fact that most of the food is already inside my kitchen! That’s a plus point for me. 🙂

  • Angie Moore

    If you can’t eat all those food in one sitting – put it away for a while and just eat the food between breakfast and lunch. Are you always on the go? I find that people who are rushing to go to work each morning don’t have the time to eat. What’s great about the diet – you can just brown bag the meal and take it with you to work! Most are fruits, greens and lean meat anyway.

  • Terry Barnes

    Day 2 substitutes are not bad at all! I would substitute the egg for 2 slices of bacon in a heartbeat! Tasty, yummy bacon in the morning will cheer me up. But I won’t even dare substitute an egg for a chicken wing because mentally I can tell myself to feel full after eating a hard boiled egg. One hard boiled egg looks like a complete meal but one chicken wing? One chicken wing looks like a crumb and I’d be looking for the rest. Who eats just one chicken wing?!?

    • Angie Moore

      Indeed, who does, right? Although my close pal does! :o)
      The military diet affords you flexibility to choose your own food, but from a list of allowable food. I think this is a great feature, isn’t it?

  • Benjamin Price

    How in the hell can you guys eat a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese for lunch? I can’t see myself eating the Day 2 cottage cheese lunch. I don’t see this as a meal and the texture is gross for me. So I am glad to see that I can substitute it for 80 grams of ham (I am assuming this is 2 thin slices of ham).

    • Angie Moore

      That’s the beauty of substitution Benjamin! You get to choose what you want from a list of allowed food. Some people like cottage cheese, others don’t so giving you some choices on what you can eat is an excellent move.

  • Susan Young

    I can really feel the intensive calorie cut back with these substitutions! 50 grams of chicken is like only 1/4 cup of canned chicken. I know however that this will work because of the calorie restriction and I want do this despite my hectic schedule. Thinking about work, it might be easier to have the 12 almonds for lunch instead. It would also be good to pair it with the 1/2 cup of whole grain cereal instead of toast. Easier to bring to the office too and it won’t smell.

  • Joe Turner

    It’s interesting to find the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda + water drink here. I’ve read that the drink has been used decades ago to delay the onset of muscle fatigue in athletes or people who work out hard. Care should be taken though not to attempt to put more than a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda because it can cause stomach upset, bloating, and diarrhea in some people.

  • Amanda Carter

    Good thing I work at home. I would probably put that cheddar cheese and saltine cracker in an oven toaster to melt that cheese a bit. I like eating my protein hot–even if it’s just cheddar cheese :). Looking at the list, Day 2 lunch has 5 saltine crackers which is around 65 calories. Can I replace this with a slice of toast instead (75 g)?

  • caroline roberts

    Day 2 lunch substitutes look good. I need to start this diet on a Friday so I can have my lunch at home for Day 2. I would probably scramble 3 eggs and eat that instead of the cup of cottage cheese. Eating ham would be better too than the cottage cheese. Doing this diet over the weekend will also save me from getting curious looks or being teased in the office. I don’t want to have long discussions with other people about my diet.

  • Janet Phillips

    For those people wanting to try this diet maybe a good substitute for grape fruit is a better tasting grape fruit! If you are going to eat grape fruit you have the get the Texas ruby red grapefruit from the Rio Grande Valley which are sweet, delicious and almost seedless!

  • Angie Moore

    Hi Susan and thanks for dropping by. The diet is very doable and despite a busy schedule, most people who are doing it are reporting remarkable results. Since the meal plans are simple, you can just brown bag the meal and eat it comfortably in your office – no sweat!

  • Angie Moore

    Thanks for the useful information Joe! Yup, baking soda has many uses and taking it in moderation will be beneficial for your body. We all know that everything in excess is bad for everydbody.

  • Angie Moore

    Check out the list of substitutions, just to be sure. I know that you can replace the saltine crackers with toast. Good luck on the diet and make sure you eat a variety of fruits and veggies to nourish your body.

  • Angie Moore

    True. Dieting is private and there’s no need to divulge anything that’s happening to your body. Be sure to review the set meal plans so you can choose what food you want replaced. Due to its simple selection of food, you can easily take it around the office without fanfare.

  • Angie Moore

    I agree Janet! I love grapefruits and the better varieties can be purchase on your local store, too. Make sure to stock up on them and don’t forget your green veggies!
    Thanks for dropping by Janet!