Vegetarian and Vegan Diet

  • Author:
    Betty Kovacs, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideVegetarian Diet: Becoming a Vegetarian

Vegetarian Diet: Becoming a Vegetarian

Introduction to vegetarian and vegan diets

To eat meat, or not to eat meat... This is the question on many people's mind. The negative impact of animal foods on health, the damage associated with animal foods and the environment, religious beliefs, and the desire to protect and respect animals are some of the reasons for the increase in the number of people consuming vegetarian diets. Many people express an interest in consuming a vegetarian diet but don't do so because they are unsure of how to do it or are not ready to give up meat. Fortunately, there are options and lots of great resources available to help. The key to making this diet work for you is to understand what nutrients you are missing from the foods that you are not consuming and to learn how to balance your meals without these foods.

What types of vegetarian diets are there?

Type of vegetarian diet Foods that you do consume Foods that are not consumed
Vegan Only plant-based foods Meat
Poultry
Fish
Milk
Eggs
Cheese
Honey
*Also avoid: leather, fur, silk, wool, soaps, and cosmetics derived from animal product
Lacto-vegetarian Plant-based foods
Milk
Milk products
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
Meat
Poultry
Fish
Eggs
Lacto-ovo vegetarian Plant-based foods
Milk
Milk products
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
Eggs
Meat
Poultry
Fish
Flexitarian (semi-vegetarian) Plant-based foods
Occasionally consume or consume in limited quantity any or all of the following:
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
Animals foods consumed in limited quantity and/or frequency
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/8/2015

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