When people think about a vegetarian diet, they typically think about a diet that doesn\’t include meat, poultry or fish. But vegetarian diets vary in what foods they include and exclude:
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 included.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products — and foods that contain these 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.
What\’s so good about a vegetarian diet?
Here are six reasons:
Vegetarian cuisine is naturally low in saturated fats, and foods of plant origin contain little or no cholesterol.
Plant foods are also much higher in fiber than animal foods.
Many plant foods contain significant amounts of vital B-vitamins, and folic acid: and fruits and vegetables are powerful sources of phytochemicals – nutrients that help every organ of the body work better.
Vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories, since grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, volume-for-volume, tend to be lower in calories than meat and poultry. Studies have shown that as long as their diet is balanced and nutritious, the people who consume fewer total daily calories live longer and healthier lives.
Veggie lovers believe that foods from plant sources, which are lower on the food chain, are safer than animal foods, since pollutants tend to concentrate in fatty tissues. While raw fruits and vegetables can carry harmful bacteria and pesticide residues just like meat, you can remove many of these pollutants by washing the plant foods. Trimming the fat from meat or chicken is less effective. Meat, poultry, and seafood are also more frequent carriers of foodborne illnesses than plant sources.
Environmental conservationists believe that having more plant-based diets is healthier for the planet. It takes less energy and less farmland to feed a vegetarian than it does to feed livestock.