Vegetarian Version of the Military Diet

The Military Diet is a popular low-calorie/restrictive diet that limits calories to under 1400 for three days. There’s also a military diet vegetarian version of this diet that swaps out meat, dairy, and eggs for items like tofu, almond milk, and avocado.

vegan yogurt and berries breakfast bowl

Are you a vegetarian or vegan who wants to lose weight? The Military Diet is a popular diet that reduces calories to 1100-1400 during the first three days. It’s a strict diet that greatly reduces calories, carbs, and fat. The other three days of the diet are less strict but you still have to stay under 1500 calories. While this diet can help you lose weight it’s not vegetarian/vegan-friendly. If you don’t eat meat and/or animal products then you should consider the military diet vegetarian version. It swaps out items like meat and dairy for almond milk and dairy-free ice cream.

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between vegetarians and vegans. Many people wrongly use one term to mean the other one but they’re different. Vegetarians don’t eat meat but vegans don’t use/eat ANY animal products. So, in terms of diet that includes meat, eggs, and milk. The original Military Diet includes some animal meat including tuna and hotdogs. There’s also boiled eggs and some dairy like cheese and ice cream. So, if you’re either vegan or vegetarian you’ll want to swap out some or all of those items. The good news is there’s already a version of the popular diet that includes alternatives for vegetarians and vegans.  

What’s the Military Diet?

The name of this diet is interesting. It’s a strict and restrictive diet but doesn’t seem to be linked to any military including the army, navy, air force, or marines. There are some online claims that the US military designed the diet but there’s no official proof that’s the case.

However, this is still a strict diet. Consider that adult men usually eat about 2,500 calories per day and adult women usually eat about 2,500 calories every day. This diet significantly reduces people’s calories from 1400 (Day 1) to 1200 (Day2), and then to 1100 (Day 1).

There are other ways this diet is quite strict. The first three days are the toughest and are the diet’s “boot camp,” if you will. The difference with this one is you have to complete it every week until you drop enough weight and reach your weight loss goals.  

You have to follow the set menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during Days 1, 2, and 3. You’re probably used to eating many of the foods on the menu including:

The main difference this time is you have to follow strict rules about how much you can eat. For example, most of us aren’t used to eating half a banana, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, or tea/coffee without tons of sugar and cream. The situation’s different because you’re in the (diet) army now.

There are some other ways this diet is strict. You also can’t eat any snacks during the first three days. This might be tough if you’re used to eating potato chips, popcorn, or trail mix between meals. Forget about them until Day 4.

Another issue is this program has set menus you have to follow like Army Field Manuals.  Well, now you have some leeway if you’re vegetarian/vegan.

Military Diet: Vegetarian Version

If you’re vegetarian or vegan it can sometimes be difficult to find versions that are meatless or don’t include eggs/dairy. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Military Diet. If you don’t eat meat and/or animal products then you can swap out some of the animal-based products and swap-in plant-based ones.

Here are the substitutions that you can make for Days 1 to 3:


The tuna for lunch is substituted with avocado/hummus. This helps to provide you with healthy fat contained in the tuna. Avocado is chock-full of healthy fat. The main ingredient of hummus is chickpeas, which replaces tuna’s protein.

Then for dinner tofu replaces the 3-oz. meat. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and is often used as a meatless substitute for animal protein.

The biggest non-vegan item in the Military Diet is ice cream. That’s because it’s on the menu for all three dinners. You can pick among a wide range of non-dairy ice creams available. This lets you have your just desserts minus the milk. 


For breakfast, vegans can swap out the hard-boiled egg for ½ cup baked fact, beans are one of the best protein sources for vegetarians. Baked beans–it’s not just for lunch and dinner!

For lunch, vegans can swap out the cottage cheese and hard-boiled egg. The new foods are 1 cup soy/almond/hemp milk, ½ avocado, and 2 TBSP hummus.

Supper keeps hot dogs on the menu but you’ll get veggie versions. The ice cream is again non-dairy.


  • For breakfast, the 1 slice cheddar cheese gets swapped out. Swap in 15-20 almonds.
  • Then for lunch the egg gets replaced with ½ avocado and hummus (1 TBSP).
  •  Finally, the tuna is substituted with canned chickpeas (1/2 cup).

Making these tweaks allows you to follow this diet while avoiding meat and possibly eggs/milk as well if you’re vegan.

Vegan Substitutions

Vegan Substitutions

  1. Mayo: You can find some vegan mayo products today. These products are practical because you can use them just as you’d use regular mayo with eggs.
  2. Meat: This might be surprising since being vegetarian/vegan is by definition avoiding meat. However, you can find many meat substitutes on the market. In fact, these products keep getting better including burgers that look, taste, and feel like real beef.
  3. Yogurt: You can find yogurts made of soy, almond, and coconut. You can find plain yogurt and flavored yogurt just like the dairy versions. These options are great not just for eating as a stand-alone breakfast or snack food, but also for baking/cooking.
  4. Chocolate: You might be surprised by how many vegan chocolates are on the market. You can also find several forms like cocoa powders, chocolate chips, and even chocolate bars.
  5. Butter: You can find several vegan butters on the market that work well when you want to swap out dairy-based butter. Some options are butter made from coconut oil or palm oil. When selecting one make sure to pick an established brand. You also might want to pick a brand that uses eco-friendly practices.
  6. Honey: Some good options to replace the bee product include nectar and maple syrup.
  7. Sugar: Some vegans don’t eat this product because the refining process sometimes uses bone char. Possible substitutes include organic, beet, or raw sugar. This will help to prevent the use of animal products to make the white granules.
  8. Sour Cream: A good option is plain non-dairy yogurt. You can also find vegan sour creams made from products like tofu. These are great for options like dips.
  9. Beef/chicken stock: You can use vegetable broth instead of stock from chicken or beef. You can also use veggie bouillon cubes as another option like when substituting for military diet vegetarian.

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