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Vegetarian Diets

While it is often assumed that vegetarians simply do not eat meat, fish, or poultry, there are many different categories of vegetarianism:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets allow eggs and dairy products; however still exclude meat, fish, and poultry
  • Lacto-vegetarian diets allow dairy products; however exclude meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and foods that contain them.
  • Flexitarian diet, also known as a semi-vegetarian diet, refers to someone that follows mainly a plant-based diet, however will consume meat, dairy, eggs, poultry, and fish on occasion 
  • Vegan diets do not allow any animal or animal products in their diet




Protein: According to the American Dietetic Association, research has shown that eating a variety of plant foods throughout the day can provide the required essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and therefore, supplemental protein is not needed.


Iron: Heme iron, found only in meat and eggs, is absorbed more easily than non-heme iron, which is found in vegetables. Fortunately, when non-heme iron is eaten along with vitamin C, the body absorbs it almost as easily as heme iron.


Calcium: Vegetarian diets usually meet recommended calcium requirements, however vegans tend to have low intakes of calcium.


B12: Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products and is not usually present in plant products. Some foods are fortified with B12, however most vegetarians and vegans need to take a non-animal derived B12 supplement.



According the American Dietetic Association, vegetarian and vegan diets may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Both diets have been associated with the following benefits:

  • Lower risk of death from heart disease
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Lower rates of high blood pressure
  • Decreased incidence of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower BMI
  • Lower overall cancer rate

It is speculated that this may be due to a lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol and a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals.

Interested in becoming a vegetarian and unsure about what to eat? Contact me to schedule a consultation where I can show you that being a vegetarian is both easy and delicious!



  1. List of Iron-Rich Foods for Vegetarians. Live Strong Web site. 2011. Available at: Accessed July 7, 2011.
  2. Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Mayo Clinic Web site. 2011. Available at: Accessed July 7, 2011.
  3. Vegetarianism in a Nutshell. VRG Web site. Available at: nutshell/. Accessed July 7, 2011.
  4. Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Vegetarians, elderly may not get enough vitamin B12. 2005. Harvard Health News Letter Web site. Available at: http://www. health. b12_deficiency. Accessed July 8, 2011.
  5. Vitamin B12. National Institute of Health Web site. 2011. Available at: Accessed July 8, 2011.

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