A vegetarian diet can be really healthy because most of the plant foods are high in dietary fiber and low in saturated fat.
But a healthy vegetarian diet must be planned in advance to make sure it is well balanced and includes a wide variety of foods to meet nutritional needs.
There are many different approaches and types of vegetarian diets, but these are the most important:
1. Vegetarian diet
The vegetarian diet consists solely of plant foods and no dairy products, eggs, or fish are consumed. Strict vegetarians do not eat any type of fish and meat, such as pork, beef or poultry. They still eat products of animals, such as eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and kefir, which present protein sources. Tofu and its variations and different kinds of grains are also heavily encouraged with this diet.
2. Vegan diet
Vegans abstain from consuming any kind of animal products, so a vegan diet consists of mostly foods of plant origin, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and grains. Approximately 10 % of all vegetarians fall into this category. Vegans should exercise more diligence in ensuring the right intake of nutrients, specifically vitamin D and B12.
3. Fructarian diet
A fructarian diet is an extreme vegetarianism diet based only on eating fruits. Many of fructarians eat only fruits that have fallen off trees naturally, based on the belief that any living plant should not be harmed to fulfill human needs (through the picking of fruit). It is very difficult to provide all necessary nutritional needs when engaging in this diet. Also, this diet is lacking in essential fatty acid and fiber, furthering complicating nutritional deprivation.
4. Lacto-ovo-pesco diet
Lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarians do not eat meat, and this vegetarian diet consists of plant foods, dairy products, eggs, and fish. There is a general belief that this diet should not fall under the heading of “vegetarian” because of the higher amount of animal-based food consumed. Many people begin with this lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarian diet, but they adjust their dietary and lifestyle habits towards a more traditional vegetarian diet.
5. Lacto-vegetarian diet
A Lacto vegetarian diet excludes red or white meat, fish, eggs, and poultry but includes dairy products. Most vegetarian people in the U.S., Europe or Canada fall exactly into this group. Lacto-vegetarians eat such foods like milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, as well as foods made with these ingredients.
6. Ovo-vegetarian diet
There are various protein sources for ovo-vegetarians because the egg aspects of their diet open up a numerous protein intake options that are not accessible to other types of vegetarian diets. Their diets might include eggs and numerous products which contain eggs. So, finding sources of protein for ovo-vegetarians is easy because of many possibilities when the eggs are included in that diet.
7. Pescatarian diet
Although the word is not commonly used, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually, like a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet or for health reasons. While technically not a vegetarian diet, these group members do restrict their meat consumption to seafood and fish only. They don’t eat white meat, red meat or fowl. This is considered a “semi-vegetarian” or “flexitarian” diet.