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Vegetarian diet — sources, health benefits at

Friday, December 15, 2017 by

Vegetarian diet is a type of diet that does not include any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, or any by-products of animal slaughter, but is comprised of different kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds. Meanwhile, the inclusion of dairy and eggs depends on the type of vegetarian diet.

There are four most common types of vegetarians. These include lacto-ovo vegetarians, who are the vegetarians who refrain from eating all animal flesh, but do eat dairy and egg products; lacto vegetarians, who do not eat animal meat and eggs, but consume dairy products; ovo vegetarians, who are the type of vegetarians who avoid animal and dairy products, but eat eggs; and vegans, who are the vegetarians who completely refrain from eating all animal and animal-derived products.

There are also semi-vegetarians or those who do not eat red meat, but consume chicken and fish with plant foods, dairy products, and eggs.

People adhere to this type of diet because of various reasons, such as health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare, or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources.

Health benefits of a vegetarian diet

A vegetarian diet can be healthy and nutritious if it is planned carefully to include important nutrients, but it can be unhealthy if it contains so much calories and/or saturated fat and lacks essential nutrients. One of the benefits of a vegetarian diet is that it can help prevent cancer as this type of diet is naturally low in saturated fat, high in fiber, and replete cancer-protective phytochemicals. Meat and dairy products also contribute to many forms of cancer, such as colon, breast, ovaries, and prostate cancers, so eating them infrequently can only be good for your health.

In addition, a vegetarian diet can also help prevent heart disease. Animal products are the primary source of saturated fat and the only source of cholesterol in diets. Vegetarians consume a lot of fibers which help reduce cholesterol levels. Vegetables and fruits are also high in potassium, which helps reduce blood pressure. Other health benefits of a vegetarian diet include preventing diabetes, gallstones, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and asthma.

According to an article posted on, a vegetarian diet can also improve mood as research showed that vegetarians may be happier compared to their meat-consuming counterparts. Vegetarians also typically weigh less because their diet is comprised of lesser calories in the forms of grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Moreover, they are generally more aware of healthy food and eat better.

A vegetarian diet also is less in toxicity as food-born diseases, bacteria, parasites, and chemical toxins are more common in commercial meat, poultry, and seafood. This diet also tends to improve vision and lessen the risk of macular degeneration and promote better skin. It also makes a person feel fuller for longer as it is rich in fiber and is dense in nutrients. Lastly, a vegetarian diet can improve athletic performance.

Food items typically found in a vegetarian diet

According to an entry on, a balanced vegetarian diet should include grains and cereals such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and muesli; legumes, nuts, and seeds such as soya beans, kidney beans, split peas, lentils, almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds; fruits and vegetables; dairy or soya products, such as milk, yogurts; and cheeses.

Body systems supported by a vegetarian diet

The body systems supported by a vegetarian diet include the cardiovascular, muscular, respiratory, endocrine, digestive, skeletal, ocular, and nervous systems.

Where to learn more


A vegetarian diet includes only plant-derived foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds.

A vegetarian diet can help prevent cancer; lower blood pressure; and prevent diabetes, gallstones, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and asthma.

A vegetarian diet can enhance mood, help in maintaining a healthy weight, improve vision, and promote skin health.

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