Vegetarian diet: Benefits, risks, and tips

A vegetarian does not eat meat or fish, but there are different types of vegetarian. Some consume eggs and dairy products, while the strictest kind, vegans, eat no animal produce at all, including honey. Some people call themselves vegetarians, but they consume fish.

It is not necessary to eat meat to get all the nutrients needed for good health. A person who chooses not to eat meat may enjoy better health, because they will eat more plant-based foods, and because they may be more active in making healthy choices.

A vegetarian diet has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, leading to a longer life expectancy. It may lead to weight loss.

Around 5 percent of people in the United States describe themselves as vegetarian.

This article will focus on lacto-ovo-vegetarians, people who do not consume meat, fish and related products, but who do eat eggs, dairy products, and honey.

This is part of series of articles about the nine most popular diets today.

Foods

Salad
There are different types of vegetarian, but the common thread is a diet that focuses on plant-based food.

A vegetarian diet can provide a wide variety of healthful, nutritious foods.

Different types of vegetarian eat different things.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians avoid the flesh of all animals, both meat and fish

Pescatarians eat fish but no meat

Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but no eggs

Ovo-vegetarians consume eggs but no dairy

Vegans avoid all animal-based foods, including honey

Some people call themselves “semi-vegetarian,” but most vegetarian and vegan societies do not accept this term.

A vegetarian needs to make careful choices about their diet, and to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure that they meet their nutritional requirements. Some vegans may need to take supplements.

Child vegetables
The amount of people between the ages of 8 and 18 years in the U.S. that have chosen a vegetarian diet is around 3 percent.

Parents of vegetarian children should ensure their diet contains all of the key nutrients.

Those who choose to become vegetarian include children and teenagers. Figures suggest that 3 percent of Americans aged 8 to 18 years are vegetarian.

Anyone who is deciding to become a vegetarian needs to educate themselves to ensure they continue to get their key nutrients. Parents of vegetarian children must make sure their child is not just omitting the meat served with the family meal, but getting their nutrients in other ways.

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