Q:

What do vegetarians eat?

A:

Quick Answer

Vegetarians eat a mostly plant-based diet and avoid meat, according to the Mayo Clinic. A vegetarian’s diet may include fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes. Some vegetarians may also consume eggs and dairy products, such as milk and cheese.

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Full Answer

Several types of vegetarians exist. Lacto-ovo vegetarians, for example, do not eat meat fish or poultry, but they do eat eggs and dairy products, according to the Mayo Clinic. Vegans, however, exclude all meats, eggs and dairy products from their diets. Some people follow a semi-vegetarian diet, which contains small quantities of meat.

Variety is an important aspect of a vegetarian diet, as variety helps vegetarians satisfy their nutritional needs, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some vegetarians may benefit from consuming more sources of calcium, iron, protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Vegetarian sources of calcium include calcium-fortified juice, broccoli, almond butter and green leafy vegetables. Eggs, peanut butter and fortified breakfast cereals provide great sources of iron. Protein is found in eggs, dairy products, nuts and beans. Eggs and fortified foods also provide a source of vitamin D and vitamin B12. A registered dietitian or physician can help aspiring vegetarians plan a well-balanced diet.

A vegetarian diet has many benefits. According to the American Heart Association, vegetarian diets are usually lower in total fat and cholesterol than non-vegetarian diets. Vegetarians may have a lower risk hypertension, diabetes mellitus and obesity.

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