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Types Of Vegetarian Diet: Learning About All The Different Shades Of Vegetarianism

types of vegetarian diet

For a while now, you have been thinking of changing your diet. You are leaning towards being a vegetarian and are curious to know more about it. Changing your lifestyle for any reason can be challenging, so here is what you need to know first. Most people are on one of the many types of vegetarian diet; they just don’t know it yet. Most people would also be surprised to know that being a vegetarian does not mean not eating meat. Neither does it mean bland, tasteless meals that are low in nutrition and taste.  Read on to find out what types of food are permitted in the vegetarian diet. Get Ultimate 28 Days Meal & Workout Plan 

What Are The Different Types Of Vegetarian Diet?

There are several types of vegetarian diet. Some are more restrictive than others. Vegetarianism is classified based on which foods you choose not to eat. Below are seven different classes of the diet:

Vegan

Veganism is the most restrictive form of the vegetarian diet – it is based solely on plant foods. While on a vegan diet, you do not consume any animal product or byproduct. Some of the foods vegans do not eat include:

  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • Fish
  • Fowl
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Honey or beeswax
  • Gelatin

Moreover, vegans do not use animal byproducts such as leather, wool, and silk. This lifestyle extends beyond the plate. Vegans typically avoid consumer products that are tested on animals or have animal ingredients. Ethics are a significant motivator for people to choose a vegan diet.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

A Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet is one of the earliest forms of vegetarianism. In this diet, you do not eat animal products but still include the byproduct in your diet. Some of the foods you do not eat on this diet include:

  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • Fish
  • Fowl

However, as a Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, you can eat dairy and eggs. The name is a giveaway – Lacto is derived from the Latin word for milk, while ovo is derived from the word for eggs. So, a Lacto-ovo vegetarian may eat the following foods:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Ice cream

Why do people follow this diet? Some have religious or cultural reasons for choosing a Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. People who follow Hinduism and Buddhism may adhere to this type of diet according to their religious beliefs (15).

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different types of vegetarian diet
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Lacto Vegetarian

Lacto vegetarians eat an entirely plant-based diet except for dairy. People follow this diet for environmental and ethical reasons. On this diet, you cannot eat the following:

  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • Fish
  • Fowl
  • Eggs

Lacto vegetarians are not averse to dairy. So, you may eat any of these foods:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Ice cream

Ovo Vegetarian

Ovo vegetarians eat an entirely plant-based diet except for eggs. People follow this diet for environmental and ethical reasons. On this diet, you cannot eat the following:

  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • Fish
  • Fowl
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Butter

However, you may eat eggs and foods coated or cooked with them.

Pescatarian Diet

Derived from the Italian word “Pesce,” meaning fish, the pescatarian diet is a plant-based diet that allows seafood only. They can consume fish-based foods such as salmon, tuna, anchovies, sushi, shrimp, halibut, and tilapia. Foods restricted in this diet include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pork

The diet isn’t dairy-averse; hence they can consume dairy products and eggs based on personal preference.

Pollotarian Diet

The prefix “Pollo” means chicken in Spanish. Hence, this semi-vegetarian diet is plant-based, limiting meat consumption to poultry forms only, such as turkey, duck, and fowl. Pollotarians don’t consume foods like:

  • Red meat
  • Seafood

Pollotarians have the choice of whether to incorporate dairy and eggs into their diet.

Flexitarian Diet

The flexitarian diet is flexible, as indicated by the prefix “Flexi.” It’s plant-based with the occasional meat item. It allows small amounts of animal products, including meat and dairy.

This diet is highly recommended for beginners as it doesn’t strictly prohibit animal products’ intake as the vegan diet. Flexitarians consume whole plant foods, meats, dairy, and eggs; what’s essential is moderation.

Read More: Vegetarian Weight Loss Meal Plan For 1200 Calories: Revamp Your Diet Right Now!

different types of vegetarian diet
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What Types of People Benefit from a Vegetarian Diet?

Whether vegan vegetarian different types of diet are suitable for different reasons. Below,  we go through five of the most common why people opt for a vegetarian diet. 

1. Ethical and Environmental Reasons

One primary reason people revert to a vegetarian diet is animal cruelty. People are concerned about animal welfare and the use of hormones and antibiotics on livestock. Not to mention the effect livestock farming has on public health and the environment.

People detest how animals are treated, their living conditions, and how violent and stressful the slaughtering process is, like how a five-month-old calf is slaughtered to get veal. Vegetarians, precisely the vegan society, abhor such unethical practices, which is why they would never use dairy products, wool, leather, or any other animal products(13).

A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that livestock was responsible for a significant percentage of human-caused greenhouse gases emitted during meat production. It is why it is said that vegan diets have the most significant potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35 to 50% (7).

These same factory farms also contribute to global climate change and deforestation to create more grazing lands(5).

2. Health Associated Reasons

Another reason people give up meat in their diet is because of health reasons. A vegetarian diet can aid with certain health illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, high sugar levels, and much more (11).

Vegetarians are said to gain significant benefits from their diet that help promote a healthy and longer life. Examples of people who should consider the vegetarian diet include those who suffer from;

Heart Diseases

People who regularly consume unprocessed red meat have a higher chance of developing heart disease than the opposite. It is because saturated fat, cholesterol, and L-carnitine from red meat are culprits in getting heart disease, including atherosclerosis (9).

Metabolic Syndrome

It is a condition characterized by high cholesterol levels, high sugar levels, and a huge belly. People diagnosed with metabolic syndrome often develop heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Vegetarians are said to have reduced risk prevalence because of their feeding patterns (4).

Cancer

Multiple types of cancer are associated with meat consumption, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal, and skin cancer. A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health found young women who eat red meat have an increased risk of breast cancer (10).

Obesity

People who aim to lose or maintain a healthy weight also prefer a vegetarian diet as it’s plant-based and offers fewer calories and less risk of developing health problems.

3. Religious Reasons

Jainism, an ancient religion in India, is the only religion that strictly follows vegetarianism and life that minimizes their use of the world’s resources (8). Other religions such as Buddhism and Judaism have their beliefs and opinions on vegetarian lifestyles, such as avoiding cruelty to animals, whether in the production of food or as beasts of burden (15).

4. Budgetary Reasons

Meat is an expensive source of protein compared to fresh produce, which is available all year round. For those looking to save up on feeding expenses, cutting down on meat would be an excellent economic solution.

5. Personal or Social Reasons

Some people may not like how meat tastes or have their meat restrictions other than the reasons above. Moreover, family and friends may influence one’s choice of diet to vegetarian. Regardless of the types of diet vegetarian vegan normal food choices can be made. 

What Types of Nutrients Are Limited or Restricted In Vegetarian Diet?

The vegetarian diet has a lot of controversy as many claims it’s nutrient inadequate. It is valid to some extent, depending on the various types of vegetarian diets. Vegetarians have to be keen to include certain vital nutrients in their diet, such as:

  • Fats, especially Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Protein

Fats

Despite vegetarians who eat fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fats often miss in their meals. To include them in the diet, you can include any of these foods:

  • Eggs
  • Walnuts
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Soy – soy oil or soya-based foods such as tofu
  • Linseed / flaxseed / rapeseed oil
  • Unsaturated fats – olive, canola, and sunflower oils

Vegetarians often have high fiber meals; hence it’s crucial to include sources of omega-3 fatty acids in their meals. It is especially essential for vegans whose diet is strictly plant-based.

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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is often found in animal products such as eggs and dairy. Great sources include:

  • Fortified soy milk
  • Fortified breakfast cereals – Marmite
  • Starchy foods – rice
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Oat drinks

As you choose your options, select lower sugar options.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium into our bodies. So begin by getting exposure to sunlight. Other sources include:

  • Soy milk
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Supplements

Calcium

Dairy products such as milk and yogurt offer the best calcium supplement. For vegetarians, there are several options such as:

  • Yogurt without gelatin
  • Tofu
  • Green leafy vegetables – spinach, collard greens, kale
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Soy milk
  • Rice milk
  • Calcium-fortified fruit drinks

Again, you can opt for supplements.

Iron

Iron is essential for blood; hence women and ladies must pay extra attention to these nutrients, especially during menstruation. Great sources of iron include:

  • Vegetables – nori, wakame, dulse.
  • Legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
  • Dark green vegetables, such as watercress, broccoli, and spring greens.
  • Whole grain bread
  • Fortified cereals (with added iron)
  • Soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Pulses
  • Tofu
  • Dried fruits such as raisins and figs
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Broccoli

Eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, will help your body absorb iron better.

Zinc

Zinc as well could reduce based on your type of vegetarian diet, therefore include foods such as:

  • Tempeh
  • Dried beans
  • Nuts
  • Soy products
  • Fortified cereals
    different types of vegetarian diet
    Shutterstock

Protein

Common plant proteins to include in your diet include red beans and peas. Other food items that will boost your protein intake include:

  • Egg and dairy(if you can)
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Pulses – lentils and peas
  • Soy milk
  • Grains
  • Cereals
  • Seeds
  • Tofu
  • Quorn
  • Tempeh

Read More: Vegan vs Vegetarian: Is There A Winner In This Tug-Of-War?

Tasty Vegetarian Recipes To Try

Being new to the vegetarian lifestyle can mean wondering what to cook. To get you started, here are two tasty vegetarian recipes for you to try at home. 

Roast Veggie Salad

This is a rich, refreshing mix of vegetables that is perfect for dinner. Not only is it filling and tasty but also easy to make. 

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g (1lb) pumpkin, skinned and chopped
  • 400g (14oz) potato, chopped
  • 400g (14oz) sweet potato, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable seasoning or powdered vegetable stock 
  • 240g (8oz) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 200g (7oz) broccoli florets
  • 3 good handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
  • 2-3 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 red apple, diced and tossed in lime juice
  • 240g (8oz) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 125g (4oz) feta cheese (optional for non vegans)
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) walnuts (or any nuts &/or seeds you prefer)
  • 7-10 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500g (1lb) pumpkin, skinned and chopped
  • 400g (14oz) potato, chopped
  • 400g (14oz) sweet potato, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable seasoning or powdered vegetable stock 
  • 240g (8oz) mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 200g (7oz) broccoli florets
  • 3 good handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
  • 2-3 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 red apple, diced and tossed in lime juice
  • 240g (8oz) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 125g (4oz) feta cheese (optional for non vegans)
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) walnuts (or any nuts &/or seeds you prefer)
  • 7-10 dates, pitted and chopped

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/428°F.
  2. Drizzle the vegetable oil into one large or two smaller baking trays and place them in the oven to warm the oil for a few minutes.
  3. Once the oil is warmed, carefully add the chopped pumpkin, potato, sweet potato and carrot.
  4. Bake the vegetables for 40-45 minutes, turning if need be, until roasted evenly, remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Meanwhile heat a small amount of oil or butter in a frying pan, add the mushroom and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes until tender. Add the broccoli florets and toss through for 2-3 minutes until warmed through, remove from heat.
  6. Prepare the dressing by whisking all ingredients together with a little freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt flakes.
  7. On a larger platter arrange the salad. Start with the roast vegetables, top with the lettuce leaves and then the mushroom and broccoli mixture, scatter over the apple, celery, cherry tomatoes, dates, walnuts and feta if using.
  8. Drizzle over the dressing and serve with lots of crusty bread or couscous

Lentil and Spinach Casserole

Casseroles are great to make with leftovers. You can replace some of the ingredients in this recipe with whatever food you have on hand including rice and pumpkin soup. The lentil and spinach casserole is a comfort meal that is perfect for cold weather. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tsp vegetable bouillon
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • 400g (14 oz) brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 diced carrot
  • 4 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 large diced potatoes
  • 1 tsp xylitol
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 5 spinach leaves, shredded
  • Steamed rice to serve

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and pepper and cook until onion softens.
  3. Then add salt, coriander, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and bouillon – stir until aromatic.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, carrot, potatoes, lemon juice, xylitol and enough water to just cover the vegetables.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, carrot, potatoes, lemon juice, xylitol and enough water to just cover the vegetables.
  6. Serve with steamed rice. Get Ultimate 28 Days Meal & Workout Plan

Conclusion

A well-planned vegetarian diet is appropriate for everyone and all life stages as it has many benefits. All you need is a well-thought plan according to the type of vegetarian diet you’re on.

Educate yourself on the types of vegetarian diet advantages and disadvantages. Ensure that you are including multiple and essential nutrients in your diet and eliminating excess fat, salt, and sugar. Do that, and you’ll be maintaining excellent health with significant energy levels.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 7 Types of Vegetarianism(2020, vegetarian-nation.com)
  2. A perspective on vegetarian dietary patterns and risk of metabolic syndrome(2015, pubmed.gov)
  3. Fight climate change by going vegan(2021, peta.org)
  4. Getting Enough Nutrients on a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet(2020, spruceeats.com)
  5. Going Vegan: An Effective Way to Reduce Environmental Impact(2020, veganoutreach.org)
  6. Jainism at a glance (2009, bbc,co,uk)
  7. New study links L-carnitine in red meat to heart disease(2013, harvard.edu)
  8. Red meat consumption and breast cancer risk(2014, harvard.edu)
  9. The 7 Types Of Vegetarian Diets From Lacto-Ovo To Vegan, Explained By A Nutritionist(2019, womenhealthmag.com)
  10. The vegetarian diet(2020, nhs.uk)
  11. Veganism(2021,vegansociety.com)
  12. Vegetarian diet: How to get the best nutrition(2020, mayoclinic.org)
  13. What 6 World Religions Have To Say About Vegetarianism(2020, mindbodygreen.com)
ZindzyGracia
ZindzyGracia

Zindzy is a freelance writer who specializes in creating web content in the health & wellness niche. The articles she writes focus on providing factual information – but never at the expense of providing an entertaining read.
Her interest in health & wellness was sparked by her motherhood journey. She realized just how much damage misinformation could cause, especially when it is targeted at new moms who are keen on postpartum weight loss.
So for years, she has worked hard to demystify the seemingly complex concepts of health & wellness. Eventually, she made one startling discovery that she wishes to share with all – there is no short cut. Consistency and hard work are the keys to a healthy mind and body.
But, writing is not all she does. Being a mother to an energetic toddler means her free time is spent exploring the outdoors, arms laden with cotton candy and toys. Through the daily intrigues of work and play, she continues to discover and share more ways to keep fit and stay healthy!

S. Ziou
S. Ziou

Hi everyone! I am a Canadian Registered Dietitian (RD) who graduated from the University of Ottawa, Canada. I worked at the Montreal Pediatric University Hospital and the Ottawa Heart Institute before joining the International Clinic of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. With a strong interest in community nutrition, I worked in Haiti and in Syrian refugee camps affected by the scourge of malnutrition. I am passionate about food and its science!

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