Eat, Drink & Be Happy

Vegetarian Fact Sheet

As stated by the Mayo Clinic, vegetarians may fit into one of four groups determined by the sort of animal-derived foods they consume.

  • Vegans consume only plant-based foodstuff. Meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, other animal products and, in some cases, honey, are excluded from the diet.
  • Lacto-vegetarians do not eat eggs, meat, fish or poultry, but they do consume diary products in addition to plant-based foods.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians are like lacto-vegetarians in that they exclude meat, fish and poultry from the diet. However, they consume eggs and milk products along with plant-based foods.
  • Flexitarians, or semivegetarians, typically consume only plant-based foods. Yet they eat small amounts of red meat, poultry or fish sporadically.

In a 2009 survey published by the Vegetarian Resource Group, it was determined that approximately 3% of U.S. adults – or 8 to 9 million people – do not consume meat, poultry or fish. The survey also found that about 1% of the U.S. population classifies itself as vegan because they do not consume diary, eggs or honey.

In the July 2009 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the organization listed the following health benefits as being associated with a vegetarian diet: lower risk of heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes;  lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, lower body mass index (BMI) and lower overall cancer rates. 

The article, “The Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets,” goes on to state that the diet is commonly lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, with high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, soy products, nuts and fiber.  This could explain why the vegetarian diet may reduce the risk of chronic disease.

The following foods are common the in the vegetarian kitchen:

  • Whole Grains: whole wheat bread and bagels, whole wheat pasta, cooked rice, ready-to-eat cereal, oatmeal
  • Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, mushrooms, lettuce, canned and frozen varieites
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, grapes, berries, pineapple, oranges, plums, melons, juice, canned, frozen and dried varieties
  • Legumes: chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, white beans, pinto beans
  • Protein Sources: peanut butter, nuts, soy products – Tofu, veggie burgers, tempeh
  • Other: salsa, extra virgin olive oil, hummus, salad dressing, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar
  • For lacto-ovo vegetarians and/or lacto vegetarians: eggs, milk, cheeses, butter, yogurt

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