Vegetarians diets are increased in popularity. Those who choose them may be motivated by philosophic, religious, or ecological concerns or a desire to have a healthier lifestyle. Considerable evidence attests to the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Studies of Seventh-Day Adventists indicate, that the diet results in lower rates of type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, cardiovascular and gallbladder disease. 

Of the millions of Americans who profess to be vegetarians, many eliminate ‘red’ meats but eat fish, poultry and dairy products. A lacto-vegetarian does not eat meat, fish, poultry or eggs but does consume milk, cheese, other dairy products. A lacto-ovo-vegetarian also consumes eggs. A true vegetarian, or vegan, does not eat any food of animal origin. The vegan diet is the only vegetarian diet that has any real risk of obtaining inadequate nutrition, but the risk can be avoided by careful planning.

Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in iron than omnivorous diets, although the nonheme iron in fruits, vegetables and unrefined cereals is usually accompanied either in the food or in the meal by large amounts of ascorbic acid that aids in iron deficiency than those who are not vegetarians. Vegetarians who consume no dairy products may have low calcium intakes, and vitamin D intakes may be inadequate among those in northern latitudes where there is less exposure to sunshine. The calcium in some vegetables is inactivated by the presence of oxalates. Although phytates in unrefined cereals also can inactivate calcium, this is not a problem for Western vegetarians, whose diets tend to be based more on fruits and vegetables than on the unrefined cereals of Middle Eastern cultures. Long-term vegans may develop megaloblastic anemia because of a deficiency of vitamin B12, found only in foods of animal origin. The high levels of folate in vegan diets may mask the neurological damage of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegans should have a reliable source of vitamin B12 such as fortified breakfast cereals, soy beverages, or a supplement.

Most vegetarians meet or exceed the requirements for protein, their diets tend to be lower in protein. This lower intake may help vegetarians retain more calcium from their diets. Furthermore, lower protein intake usually results in lower dietary fat because many high-protein animal products are also rich in fat. 

A strict vegetarian diet may benefit patients with Wilson’s disease because of the low copper content of fruits and vegetables.

Well planned vegetarian diets are safe for infants, children and adolescents and can meet all of their nutritional requirements for growth. They are also adequate for pregnant and lactating females. The key is that the diets be well planned. Vegetarians should pay special attention to ensure that they get adequate calcium, iron, zinc, Vitamins B12 and D. Calculated combinations of complementary protein sources is not necessary, especially if protein sources are reasonably varied.


  1. I like people who don't eat meat and eggs. But as a matter of fact, I'm a non vegetarian and I can't go without having omelet for breakfast. It's really a nice blog.

    Best Regards,
    Finn Felton
    Kopi Luwak

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