Interested in going vegetarian, but not sure exactly what it entails?

Vegetarianism means different things to different people. There are different types of vegetarianism and different levels of commitment. No one kind of vegetarianism is inherently better than any other—it's a personal choice that needs to feel comfortable to you. Here's a rundown of the different types of vegetarians you may meet:

1. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian. The most common type of vegetarian in this country, lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products but not meat, poultry, or fish. This makes it relatively easy to eat in restaurants and other people's homes. Getting enough protein and calcium generally is not a problem.

2. Ovo-Vegetarian. This type of vegetarian includes eggs but avoids dairy products, along with meat, poultry, and fish.

3. Lacto-Vegetarian. Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products but avoid eggs, along with meat, poultry, and fish.

4. Vegan. The strictest form of vegetarianism involves cutting out meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, as well as animal-derived substances like honey, gelatin, casein, and whey. Some vegans, especially if they're motivated by concerns for animal welfare, may avoid using or wearing any animal or animal-derived products. Vegans need to be especially careful in restaurants or other people's homes, as many foods are made with animal products even in small amounts. On the other hand, it's easier than ever to find meat and dairy substitutes such as soy and almond milk, non-dairy cheeses, and veggie burgers or faux "ground beef" to use when cooking.

Flexitarian. If you want some of the health benefits of vegetarianism without swearing off meat completely, try flexitarianism. This means you reduce your consumption of animal products and increase your consumption of beans, grains, and plant-based protein sources. Because this way of eating does not require a total commitment to vegetarianism, many people find it an appealing and easy way to improve their diets.

An overall concern for many people contemplating vegetarianism is meeting their nutritional needs. According to experts, vegetarianism can be a very healthful diet as long as you eat a variety of foods. You can get plenty of protein from nuts, beans, seeds, and tofu. Legumes also contain iron, as do fortified cereals, certain green leafy vegetables, and bread. Some vegetarians may choose to take extra vitamins and/or supplements to close any nutritional gaps in their diets.

Allison Massey, RD, reviewed this article.




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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Web.  "It's About Eating Right-Vegetarian Lifestyle."

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