Vegetarian Diet

You may follow a vegetarian diet for cultural, religious or ethical reasons. Or you may eat a vegetarian diet to stay healthy and prevent health problems, such as cardiovascular disease. Whatever your reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet, this guide will help you make smart choices to ensure that you meet your daily nutritional needs.

Indeed, a well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and pregnant or breast-feeding women. The key is to be aware of your nutritional needs so that you plan a diet that meets them.

Types of vegetarian diets
When people think about a vegetarian diet, they typically think about a diet that doesn’t include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets can be further categorized into three types:

  • Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these products.
  • Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter, are allowed in a lacto-vegetarian diet.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow eggs and dairy products.

Some people follow a semivegetarian diet — also called a flexitarian diet — which is primarily a plant-based diet but includes meat, dairy, eggs, poultry and fish on occasion or in small quantities.