A well-balanced vegetarian diet provides people in all stages of life with good nutrition, according to the American Dietetic Association. A vegetarian can mean many things, ranging from a person who eliminates a type of meat from her diet to someone who eats no meat-related products. To obtain a sufficient amount of protein without eating meat, vegetarians consume complete proteins or complimentary incomplete proteins. Complimentary proteins come from milk, soy and eggs in a vegetarian diet. Incomplete complimentary proteins include cereal and milk, beans and rice, and bread with peanut butter.
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A semi-vegetarian only eats meat occasionally or has eliminated certain meats, such as beef, from her diet, according to Medline Plus, a National Institutes of Health website. This may be for health, moral or religious reasons. Semi-vegetarianism is one way some people transition to a meat-free diet. Semi-vegetarians who eat a varied and balanced diet of nutritious food do not have to worry about nutrient deficiencies related to other types of vegetarianism.
A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats no animal ingredients but does consume milk products and eggs. Beef, fowl, fish and game are not on the menu, and even meat broths are not permitted in lacto-ovo vegetarian diets. Look out for animal ingredients, such as gelatin, that are in otherwise vegetarian foods, including gelatin and processed cheese food. Once meat products are eliminated from the diet, Medline Plus cautions that vegetarians must consciously consume sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin, iron, protein and zinc to avoid deficiencies.
A lacto-vegetarian follows a vegetarian diet that eliminates eggs. The Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University advises lacto-vegetarians to follow a modified U.S. Government Food Pyramid. This pyramid, provided in a 2002 issue of “The Journal of Nutrition,” recommends 2 to 3 teaspoons of oils, up to two servings of nuts and seeds, three servings of dairy, two to four servings of vegetables, two to three servings of green leafy vegetables, two to three servings of beans and protein, one to two servings of fruit, one to two servings of dried fruit and six to 10 servings of whole grains daily. It also recommends lacto-vegetarians consume three servings of dairy products daily and fortified breakfast cereals to supplement vitamin B12.
A vegan diet eliminates meat, eggs, dairy and all animal products, such as honey and the milk protein casein. Vegans apply this animal-free paradigm to their entire lifestyles and do not buy leather shoes or use beauty products with animal ingredients. The modified food pyramid for vegans recommended by the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University adds vitamin D, vitamin B12 and calcium supplements.