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The vegetarian diet is actually more than merely a diet to many people it is a way of life and habit. There are estimated to be twenty million vegetarians in America. Of course the term “vegetarian” covers a lot of ground, and does not fully define the various types of vegetarians there are.
Basically a vegetarian diet is one which either partially or totally excludes any meats or animal products. Yet with that stated there are a number of different vegetarian diets.
A vegan diet is one which is absolutely exclusive of all meats and animal products and consists only of foods of plant origin. People who choose this form of diet are called “vegans.” This is the most strict and limiting diet of its kind. The lacto-vegan diet also consists of plant foods but there is also the addition of all or some dairy products.
Another variation of this diet is the semi or partial vegetarian which again concentrates on plant foods, but may include poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs. The lacto-ovovegetarian diet also includes plant foods as well as dairy products and eggs. None of the these diets contain any red meat foods. The main emphasis of any of the vegetarian diets is a concentration on sustenance and nutrition from plant foods.
A health diet of this type will definitely have a number of positive attributes, but they also have some rather negative factors.
On the good side, those who participate in a vegan diet are at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Hypertension, renal disease, and type 2 diabetes are also health risks that are considered lower in vegetarians.
On the down side of the vegetarian diet is the concern that these diets may lack in certain nutrients and vitamins. This can be particularly risky for children who need these nutrients for growth and development. The vitamins and nutrients that may be lacking in these diets are Protein, Zinc, Iron, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D. The vegan diet being the purest of the vegetarian diets risks lacking these essential nutrients and vitamins the most. The other no meat diets make up some of the difference with the addition of milk products and some meats.
Overall, the vegetarian diets offer a great deal to consider both from positive benefits and negative concerns. Anyone choosing to pursue a vegetarian diet should first consult their physician about the health factors. Plenty of information is available about these diets both from medical resources and from the internet.