What should I know before I try vegetarianism?

Lucette Talamas, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Before becoming a vegetarian, consider the following:

Self-reflect. How will this affect your overall lifestyle? Is vegetarianism a lifestyle you can stick to? What is your main reason for choosing to become a vegetarian? How will your family and friends react, such as when you have food-related gatherings? 

Choose. Decide what type of vegetarian lifestyle you will follow. In general, vegetarian diet does not include meat, poultry or seafood or products containing these foods. There are 3 main kinds of vegetarians:
  • Lacto-ovovegetarian: eliminating meat, poultry, and fish but including eggs and dairy products
  • Lactovegetarian: eliminating meat, poultry, fish, and eggs but including dairy products
  • Total vegetarian (also known as vegan): eliminating all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products
Other forms of vegetarian lifestyles exist but may not be as well known are:
  • Flexitarian: a "semi-vegetarian" diet that focuses on a vegetarian diet but occasionally includes meat, poultry, or fish
  • Pescitarian: eliminating meat and poultry but including fish and other seafood
Plan. The more foods and food groups (i.e. dairy, animal protein) you eliminate, the more limited your diet will be to certain nutrients. A macronutrient that is often limited in a vegetarian diet is protein. Common micronutrients that may be limited in a vegetarian diet include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. To avoid a nutrient deficiency and complete a healthy vegetarian eating pattern, plan to include vegetarian food sources that naturally contain these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified food products would be needed to fill in any nutrient gaps.

Are you ready to follow a vegetarian lifestyle but need guidance? A registered dietitian can help you navigate through this lifestyle change in order to follow a nutritious eating plan.
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

It is important to understand the basics of a healthy vegetarian diet to ensure that you are meeting all of your nutritional needs. Consulting with a registered dietitian specializing in vegetarian nutrition would be a good start.

Continue Learning about Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diets

When you look at vegetarian diets, it's hard to do so without understanding that many of the practitioners believe that it is not only healthful, but more to practice vegetarianism. This is true even if the diet may include occasi...

onal meats or fish as in the Macrobiotic diet with it's Zen beliefs, or the Indian Ayurvedic diet, which finds milk and dairy central to good health along with plants. Anyone considering a vegetarian diet should learn about the food values of different vegetables, and consider getting advice on whether or not to supplement the diet with vitamins and minerals, particularly if you have special nutritional needs like growing children or pregnant or lactating women.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.