What Vegetarian Diet is Right for You?

When deciding to become a vegetarian, there are many different options to choose from. Do you want to eat dairy or eggs? If you decide to take up one of these diets, what should you make sure to be aware of? In all, there are loosely 6 different types of vegetarian diets.

 

Flexitarian

Also referred to as semi-vegetarianism, this diet is plant based with the occasional inclusion of meat. This particular diet it the farthest from the vegetarian scale, as it still includes meat. Some popular reasons for taking on this diet include ethical issues regarding the treatment of animals and the environment, but an understanding that meat has large benefits. This diet is one of the more controversial ones, as loyal vegetarians see it as cheating. However, given that it does contain occasional meat, receiving all the necessary vitamins that are usually lost in a typical vegetarian diet are still accessible. 

 

Pescatarian

A pescatarian diet excludes all meat, with the exception of fish. Often, a pescatarian will also eat dairy and eggs, but that depends on the person. Because there is the consumption of animal flesh (fish), there are varied opinions of whether they fall under the vegetarian category. This diet is one of the easier ones to handle in terms of receiving proper nutrients and vitamins, as fish contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids and is loaded with nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D. Being a pescatarian comes with all the same benefits as the other vegetarian diets, such as lowered risk of health disease. Additionally, it can lower your risk of dementia, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

 

Lacto-ovo vegetarian

This is the most common type of vegetarian diet, consisting of no meat, but some animal products such as dairy and eggs.  On average, these vegetarians tend to have many health benefits, including lower chance of obesity, hypertension, and heart disease.  If you choose to become a lacto-ovo vegetarian, you will have to make sure you are receiving enough Vitamin B-12, Iron, Calcium, and Zinc. Many of these nutrients lost from a lack of meat, however,  can very easily be found elsewhere. Vitamin B-12 can be found in eggs and dairy, protein can be found in alternative plants foods such as soy, quinoa and buckwheat, and calcium and zinc are in most vegetables.

 

Lacto-Vegetarian

A lacto-vegetarian diet is one that consists of no meat and eggs, but will contain dairy. These vegetarians have the same health benefits as a lacto-ovo vegetarian, also including lower rates of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Also, dairy foods are nutrient-rich and contain a great source of calcium and Vitamin D. This diet is generally lower in fat, and higher in fiber and antioxidants.  Therefore, you will have to be aware of the amount of Iron, Vitamin B-12, Zinc, and Fatty Acids you consume.

 

Ovo-Vegetarian

 This diet is the opposite of a lacto-vegetarian. While still consisting of no meat, users will consume eggs instead of dairy. Often, an ovo-vegetarian will only eat free range eggs, as frequently there are ethical reasons as to why they won’t consume dairy. Since this diet does consists of eggs, a great form of protein, that isn’t as big as a concern as it can be in the other vegetarian diets. Also, there are still plenty of other options when it comes to protein requirements, including soy-based foods, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

 

Veganism

Veganism consists of no meat or animal products. Considering that this is the strictest of the vegetarian diets, users can have the more issues receiving vitamin B-12, vitamin D, Calcium, Zinc, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Because of this, vegan diets are not recommended for children or pregnant women. However, when balanced correctly, there is a decrease in the risk for chronic heart disease.

Mara Waters