Vegetarian Eating

Is it better for my health and weight loss to eat like a vegetarian?

The term “vegetarian” means different things to different people. Although most vegetarians avoid all meat, fish, and poultry, individual vegetarian styles can vary. There are three types of


  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarians eat milk, cheese, and yogurt, but avoid eggs and foods containing eggs.
  • Vegans, or strict vegetarians, avoid eating all animal products.

A well-planned vegetarian eating style can be healthful, nutritionally sound, and beneficial for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Depending on the type of foods you choose to eat or avoid, your eating plan will need to include a wide variety of foods that contain protein from either dairy products and eggs, or dried beans and whole grain products. In addition, vegetables and fruits will provide energy, fiber, and vitamins and minerals.

Regarding weight loss on a vegetarian diet, the principle of calories in and calories burned still holds. If you want to lose weight, you need to burn more calories that you take in. If you choose a lacto-ovo vegetarian eating style, you should choose lower-fat dairy foods in the form of reduced-fat cheeses and fat-free milk products.

For more information see the ADA Nutrition Fact Sheet “Meat-Free” Goes Mainstream.

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