People choose to follow a vegetarian diet for a variety of reasons: concern about the environment, animal welfare, health concerns, religious views and many more. Vegetarians typically don’t eat meat, poultry, fish or shellfish. However, different types of vegetarian diets exist:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians – eat dairy foods and eggs but not meat, poultry or seafood.
Ovo-vegetarians – include eggs but avoid all other animal foods, including dairy.
Lacto-vegetarians – eat dairy foods but exclude eggs, meat, poultry and seafood.
Vegans – don’t eat any animal products at all, including honey.
Slight variations in these diets include pescetarians who include fish and/ or shellfish, while semi-vegetarians (or flexitarians) occasionally eat meat or poultry.
Well-planned vegetarian diets can be healthy and nutritious and have been associated with several health benefits. Careful planning is essential though, especially for certain types of vegetarianism as there is a risk of important nutrient and vitamin deficiencies such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.
Additionally, careful planning is necessary in different phases of life such as during pregnancy and lactation, or in case of an athlete’s increased nutrient requirements.
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