The vegetarian diet involves abstaining from eating meat, fish and poultry.
A vegetarian diet focuses on plants for food. These include fruits, vegetables, dried beans and peas, grains, seeds and nuts.
There are several forms of vegetarianism, each of which differs in their restrictions.
The most common types include:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish and poultry but allows eggs and dairy products.
- Lacto-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and eggs but allows dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and dairy products but allows eggs.
- Pescetarian diet: Eliminates meat and poultry but allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy products.
- Vegan diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products, as well as other animal-derived products, such as honey.
- Flexitarian diet: A mostly vegetarian diet that incorporates occasional meat, fish or poultry.
Vegetarian diets are associated with a number of health benefits.
In fact, studies show that vegetarians tend to have better diet quality than meat-eaters and a higher intake of important nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E and magnesium.
A vegetarian diet may provide several other health boosts as well.
Food to Eat
A vegetarian diet should include a diverse mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats and proteins.
To replace the protein provided by meat in your diet eat beans, pulses, eggs and other sources of protein.
Pulses include beans, peas and lentils. They're a low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and count as a portion of vegetables. Nuts and seeds are also a source of protein and other nutrients.
Eating nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains will supply a range of important vitamins and minerals to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet.
Other non-dairy sources of protein include tofu, mycoprotein (such as Quorn), textured vegetable protein and tempeh.
You need to eat a variety of different sources of protein to get the right mixture of amino acids, which are used to build and repair the body's cells.
A few healthy foods to eat on a vegetarian diet are:
Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, oranges, melons, pears, peaches
Vegetables: Leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots
Grains: Quinoa, barley, buckwheat, rice, oats
Legumes: Lentils, beans, peas, chickpeas.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, chestnuts
Seeds: Flaxseeds, chia and hemp seeds
Healthy fats: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocados
Proteins: Tempeh, tofu, seitan, natto, nutritional yeast, spirulina, eggs, dairy products