In a very general sense, a vegetarian is
someone who doesn't eat meat. But that definition is too simple. There are
several kinds of vegetarian diets:
Many people are semi-vegetarian—most of the diet is vegetarian, but sometimes they may eat meat, poultry, seafood, fish, and/or eggs.
There are many reasons why
some people choose vegetarian diets:
If properly planned,
vegetarian diets can provide all the nutrients you need. In addition to that,
being a vegetarian can actually be better for you. In general,
Good health could be related to a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Keep a balance
As a vegetarian, you can still eat a
You may be
worried that you won't get all the nutrients you need with a vegetarian diet.
But as long as you eat a variety of foods, there are only a few things you need
to pay special attention to.
Like everyone else, vegetarians also need to make
sure they get the following nutrients:
well-planned vegetarian diet can be healthy for children. Young vegan children tend to be slightly smaller but still
within growth normal ranges. And they tend to catch up to other children in
size as they get older.
If you are raising a child on a
vegetarian diet, consider the following:
With careful planning, a vegetarian diet can be very healthy for teens.
In fact, it can be a great way to get them into a lifelong habit of healthy
If your teen decides to become a vegetarian, teach him or
her how to plan meals to get all the right nutrients every day. Teens need
vitamin D. And iron is especially important for teen
girls who are menstruating. Talk with your doctor about how much of these
vitamins and minerals your child needs. Ask if your teen needs to take a daily
You may want him or her to talk to a
registered dietitian to learn how to plan a healthy
It's important to find out why your teen wants to
follow a vegetarian diet. Some teens adopt a vegetarian diet as a way to lose
weight, and "being a vegetarian" can hide an eating disorder like
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sets standards for all types of prescribed diets. The
organization produces a variety of consumer information, including videos. This group will help you find a registered dietitian in your area who
provides nutrition counseling.
CitationsCraig WJ, et al. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(7): 1266–1282. Available online: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357.Other Works ConsultedCraig WJ, et al. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(7): 1266–1282. Available online: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357.Escott-Stump S, Earl R (2008). Guidelines for dietary
planning. In LK Mahan, S Escott-Stump, eds., Krause's Food, Nutrition, and Diet Therapy, 12th ed., pp. 337–361. St. Louis: Saunders
Elsevier.Whitney E, Rolfes SR (2011). Vegetarian diets. In
Understanding Nutrition, 12th ed., pp. 62–67. Belmont,
July 19, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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