The Vegetarian Diet focuses on plant foods and other non-meat sources of nutrition. Although many people use “vegetarian” to describe any diet that excludes or highly restricts meat, there are several types of this kind of diet.
The Vegan Diet
On this diet, only plant foods are consumed. Meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, or eggs are expressly off-limits.
The Lacto Vegetarian Diet
Milk and milk products are allowed, along with plant-based foods. However,meat, fish or poultry is not permissible.
The Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet
Eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt are allowed in this diet, with plant-based foods. No meat, fish, and poultry, however.
The Semi Vegetarian Diet (aka “Flexitarian Diet”)
Adherents to this diet eat mainly plant based foods, but with limited amounts of poultry and fish. Usually, semi vegetarians abstain completely from red meat. Those semi vegetarians who eat only fish are called “pescatarians.”
Besides these plant-based diets, there are also Raw Foodists and Fruitarians. Raw Foodists eat only raw foods, because they want to preserve the enzymes that are destroyed by cooking. Fruitarians, like the name suggests, consume only fruits, supplemented occasionally by seeds and nuts.
These diets, in varying degrees, derive their nutrition from plant-based foods, which can be very beneficial. Plant-based diets are high in fiber, vitamins, and low in cholesterol and fat. With some planning even pregnant women, growing teenagers and older people can do well on vegetarian diets.
Supplements are important, however. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal-based foods, so vegans need a supplement (found in fortified cereals, soy milk, and other foods) for optimal health. Vitamin D may also be lacking in a strictly vegan diet, so vegans should consider a vitamin supplement or make sure they get enough sunlight. On the upside, vegetarian diets are high in calcium, more so than non-vegetarian diets, studies show.
Things to Consider:
As with any healthy diet, vegetarians need to consume a wide variety of foods. Vegetarianism doesn’t mean just consuming the same vegetables over and over again. Because no one food can provide complete nutrition, eating a diverse range of foods can help ensure that you get the essential nutrients you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Although many people, celebrities included, have had success with this diet, it is important for you to consult with your doctor or health expert before committing to this meal plan. As with all diets, it is essential to find the one that best fits your body and lifestyle.