From the supermarket to fast food chains, vegetarian food is more available than ever.
Still, going cold turkey on meat (no pun intended) can be a challenge. It can be hard to know where to start in changing your diet and lifestyle.
Read on for the six types of vegetarian diets, and find out which suits you best.
What Is Vegetarianism?
There are different types of vegetarian diets, but they all have one thing in common: no meat. Vegetarianism is when you choose meat-free options that don’t require the slaughtering of animals.
Some vegetarians choose their diet and lifestyle for ethical reasons. They may choose to abstain from food or products that hurt animals. Others choose vegetarianism because of environmental concerns.
Some other vegetarians primarily choose a meat-free diet for healthy living or medical reasons.
Types of Vegetarian Diets
There isn’t one right reason to become a vegetarian, nor is there one right way. The key is to find the type of vegetarian diet that best suits your personal needs.
Lacto-ovo (or ovo-lacto) vegetarian diets are the typical image of what a vegetarian diet is. In this diet, meat, seafood, and poultry aren’t eaten, but eggs, dairy, and other animal products are.
In other words, foods produced from animals are okay, but actual animals (such as chicken) aren’t eaten.
This type of vegetarian diet has no meat, seafood, or eggs. However, dairy products are included. Foods like yogurt, milk, and cheese are often eaten and can serve as a good source of protein in this diet.
Ovo vegetarians abstain from eating meat, seafood, and dairy products. In this diet, though, eggs and foods made from eggs are allowed. This is one of the strictest forms of vegetarianism.
Some strict vegetarians may not consider pescatarians to be true vegetarians. But this mostly plant-based diet can be a great option for those who are concerned about eating enough protein, calories, and healthy fats.
In this diet, meat and poultry aren’t eaten, but fish and other seafood are. Depending on the pescatarian, they may choose to also cut out eggs and dairy.
Veganism is the strictest form of vegetarianism. In this diet, almost all animal products are eliminated. This includes meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs. It may even include honey and other ingredients that require animals to produce them. For example, some vegans don’t eat most sugar because it is often processed with bone char from cows.
If you’re looking for an easier vegetarian diet, a flexitarian diet may be the best choice for you. Just as the name suggests, flexitarians have a flexible diet. Sometimes, they eat no meat; other days, they might consume a little chicken on their salad or fish for dinner.
A flexitarian diet is still typically plant-based, but there aren’t hard rules to follow.
Finding the Right Vegetarian Diet for You
Choosing a type of vegetarianism depends on many factors. Consider these tips to help you choose the right diet for you.
Know Your Goals and Health Needs
Consider your personal health concerns and goals. Get familiar with vegetarian-friendly sources of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that are typically found in animal products, such as iron or vitamin B12. If your primary goal is weight loss, consider trying a flexitarian or pescatarian diet first.
Eat According to Your Values
Choose a diet that fits your personal beliefs and values. Whether you care about sustainability or animal rights, research which products do (and don’t) align with your values.
Organize Your Meals and Grocery List
Be prepared to do some extra vegetarian meal prep. If you look in your kitchen now, you will likely find hidden animal-derived ingredients, such as beef broth in soups or gelatin in desserts. Become familiar with which products you will be avoiding in the future, and plan accordingly.
Ready to Say No to Meat?
There isn’t one correct reason or way to go veg. Out of the different types of vegetarian types, choose the one that fits your lifestyle and goals best. For more on healthy living and food inspiration, read our other food and cooking articles!