A vegetarian diet is a diet that does not include meat, poultry, or seafood. Some vegetarians also exclude dairy products and eggs. There are many different types of vegetarian diets. Some vegetarians eat only vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts. Some eat dairy products and eggs, but no meat, poultry, or seafood. And some eat a combination of these foods. Vegetarian diets can be healthy and nutritious. People who follow vegetarian diets may have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, some types of cancer, and high blood pressure. Vegetarians tend to have healthier eating habits than non-vegetarians. Some vegetarians do not eat dairy products or eggs. This is called lacto-ovo vegetarianism. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products, but not eggs. Ovo-vegetarians don’t eat meat or poultry, but they may eat dairy products and eggs. “To be a vegetarian is to know the taste of freedom.
The most important keys to a good vegetarian diet are: eating lots of whole-grain foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, not too much fat or salt, and choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy products. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that, for health purposes, adults should try to consume 25–35% of their total daily energy intake from carbohydrates and 150–300 calories per day from protein. Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and higher in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. The most common type of vegetarian diet is the lacto-vegetarian diet, which restricts food from animal sources. This includes all milk and products derived from milk (e.g. cheese and yogurt), eggs, fish, and seafood. A vegetarian diet can be adopted for ethical, religious or health reasons; however, religious and cultural considerations may affect the choice of foods. A vegan diet excludes all animal-derived products, including eggs and dairy.