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Vegetarian Diet


What Is The Vegetarian Diet?

The vegetarian diet involves a plant-based diet that includes varying amounts of eggs and/or dairy products. Sometimes fish and shellfish are included, depending on an individual’s choice. A vegetarian diet does not include meat, poultry, meat or poultry-based ingredients or their byproducts. People may choose to adopt a vegetarian diet for health or religious reasons. They may also choose to follow this diet for environment reasons or they may have concerns about the treatment of animals.

There are several forms of vegetarian diets, 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 Pescatarian diet: Eliminates meat and poultry but allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy products Flexitarian diet: A mostly vegetarian diet that incorporates occasional meat, fish or poultry

On Meta Nutrition, we offer the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet as the standard vegetarian diet, however individuals can choose to personalize their meal plans as needed if they follow a different variation of the vegetarian diet.

Benefits Of The Vegetarian Diet

Weight loss:

It may aid in weight loss. There is an association between the vegetarian diet and having an overall lower BMI compared to those who followed a non-vegetarian diet.

Heart health:

The vegetarian diet is generally considered to be higher in fiber, lower in cholesterol and overall associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Lower blood pressure:

People who followed a vegetarian diet have been shown to have lower blood pressure on average than those who followed omnivorous diets, meaning those who ate plants and meat in the diet.

Anti-inflammatory effects:

A plant-based diet can offer a rich variety of plant nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that have been shown to fight inflammation and help support a healthy body. Reduced cancer risk: A vegetarian diet has been shown to lower the risk of specific cancers. This is likely due to the fact that plant foods are high in nutrients such as antioxidants and phytochemicals that protect against cancers.

Environment sustainability:

A vegetarian diet may have a lower impact on the environment, while foods such as meat and poultry may have a greater impact due to increased processing involved, more amount of land, water, and oil resources consumed.

Foods To Eat

  • All varieties of fruits
  • All varieties of vegetables
  • All varieties grains
  • Eggs: If following a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian or pescatarian diet
  • Milk and dairy products: If following a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian or pescatarian diet
  • Plant based protein products: Tofu, tempeh, soy products
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, chestnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
  • Nut butters: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter
  • Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts: Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, almond yogurt, soy yogurt, coconut yogurt
  • Algae: Spirulina, chlorella
  • Nutritional yeast Healthy fats: Coconut oil, olive oil, avocados
  • Fish: If following a pescatarian diet

Foods To Avoid

  • Meat: Beef, veal and pork
  • Poultry: Chicken and turkey
  • Fish and shellfish: This restriction does not apply to a pescatarian diet
  • Meat-based ingredients: Lard, meat broths
  • Eggs: This restriction does not apply to a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, ovo-vegetarian diet or pescatarian diet
  • Dairy products: This restriction does not apply to a lacto-vegetarian or pescatarian diet

Is The Vegetarian Diet Right For me?

Following a vegetarian diet can be incredibly healthy with the benefits of meatless diet choices. A vegetarian diet has been associated with health promoting effects, however in order to optimize the benefits, it is important to make healthful choices, such as avoiding added sugar and high fat processed foods.

Carefully planning a variety of meatless dishes that provides a complete protein and addressing ways to meet potential gaps in vitamin and mineral deficiencies are essential to eating a healthful and balanced vegetarian diet. Some of the nutrients that may require additional attention to while following a vegetarian diet include protein, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12. For this reason, it may be beneficial to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified products.

A vegetarian diet may be suitable for most people, however specific needs may need to be considered for those who are particularly prone to nutrient deficiencies or babies and children who require a variety of specific nutrients for growth and development. A meatless plan may also not be palatable to everyone.

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