HealthNotes

HealthNotes

Healthnotes offers comprehensive, science-based health and lifestyle information. Written with you in mind, Healthnotes answers the most commonly asked questions with credible, easy-to-understand information — edited by physicians who review over 550 scientific and medical journals to keep content current, factual, and balanced.

Vegetarian Diet

Also indexed as:Vegan Diet
Vegetarian Diet: Main Image

The Basics

Eating a vegetarian diet has been shown in many studies to be healthier than eating a meat-based diet. However, this is not the only reason people choose to go vegetarian: environmental, cultural, religious, and ethical factors all play into the decision to not eat meat.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, or fish (people who include small amounts of these foods in their diets sometimes call themselves semivegetarians, or flexitarians.) Vegetarians build their diets around a wide variety of plant foods, including grains (such as rice, barley, and oats), grain-based foods (such as bread, pasta, and cereals), legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume dairy foods and eggs, but no fish, poultry, or meat.
  • Vegans are strict vegetarians who do not eat any animal products, including dairy products, eggs, and honey.
  • Pesco-vegetarians include fish in their diet.

Health benefits can be reaped just by decreasing the amount of meat you eat, even if you don’t decide to follow a fully vegetarian diet.

Ready to veg out? Start by choosing whole grains, legumes, and soy products. Add in fruits and vegetables; remember you should get five to nine servings per day. Soy foods such as tofu, soy milk, and soy-based meat substitutes play an important role in many vegetarian diets. In addition, cheese and milk made from rice, almonds, and soybeans are prominent in some vegetarian diets.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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