The vegetarian diet has gained widespread popularity in recent years.
Some studies estimate that vegetarians account for up to 18% of the global population (1).
Apart from the ethical and environmental benefits of cutting meat from your diet, a well-planned vegetarian diet may also reduce your risk of chronic disease, support weight loss and improve the quality of your diet.
This article provides a beginner’s guide to the vegetarian diet, including a sample meal plan for one week.
The vegetarian diet involves abstaining from eating meat, fish and poultry.
People often adopt a vegetarian diet for religious or personal reasons, as well as ethical issues, such as animal rights.
Others decide to become vegetarian for environmental reasons, as livestock production increases greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to climate change and requires large amounts of water, energy and natural resources (2, 3Trusted Source).
There are several forms of vegetarianism, each of which differs in their restrictions.
The most common types include:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish and poultry but allows eggs and dairy products.
Lacto-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and eggs but allows dairy products.
Ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and dairy products but allows eggs.
Pescetarian diet: Eliminates meat and poultry but allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy products.
Vegan diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products, as well as other animal-derived products, such as honey.
Flexitarian diet: A mostly vegetarian diet that incorporates occasional meat, fish or poultry.