Types of Vegetarian Diets

Posted on April 13, 2020

A balanced and healthy diet is the basis of a healthy lifestyle, which helps one to maintain impeccable productivity and energy. Observations of nutritionists, cardiologists, and other specialists confirm the effectiveness of a vegetarian diet. To closely approach any vegetarian diet, either Ovo-vegetarian or vegan, one can begin healthy eating by consumption of fruits and vegetables at least several times a week. There is a division of general vegetarian diet into several types that exist for everyone to choose preferable food. Some people cannot refuse eggs or milk but still want to cut meat. Therefore, various kinds of vegetarian diets have emerged, such as Pescatarian, Ovo-vegetarian, Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, Lacto-vegetarian, Vegan, which altogether are considered one of the appropriate ways to supply the body with balanced food and contribute to sustainable consumption.

In general, a vegetarian diet is a type of diet that excludes meat or even all the products of animal slaughter. Accordingly, vegetarians “rely on a variety of plant-based foods for good health and eating enjoyment” (Wolfram). Nutrition free from meat does not include only herbs and roots, but also cereals, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Some individuals may say that a vegetarian diet, which consists mainly of herbs, vegetables, and fruits, cannot provide a body with all the necessary vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Still, vegan and vegetarian diets may be quite healthy ways of eating. For instance, when one consumes a large number of vegetables and legumes, he or she gets a significant amount of fiber, which has quite a positive influence on the digestive system.
There are a lot of different types of vegetarian diets, including:

  • Pescatarian;
  • Ovo-vegetarian;
  • Lacto-Ovo vegetarian;
  • Lacto-vegetarian;
  • Vegan (Vorvick & Zieve).

Obviously, the variety of vegetarian diets is vast and complete, and every type somehow excludes or includes food everyone can choose according to their preferences. The central concept of every type is to make nutrition free from food prepared using meat.

The diet of the followers of the pescatarian diet involves mainly fish and other seafood. Indeed, many people regard such food as a kind of pseudo-vegetarianism as the consumption of fish and seafood is quite different from the philosophy of strict vegetarianism. Scientific studies showed the high prophylactic effect of pescatarian vegetarianism concerning many chronic and degenerative diseases of people (Fraser, 2009). Indeed, the pescatarian diet may be defined as a plant-based diet that includes the elements of the classic Mediterranean and Japanese menus, which are considered to be quite healthy For instance, “the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs) recommend the consumption of 140–280 g of fish per week for adults to achieve health benefits including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, and macular degeneration” (Bogard et al., 2019). Thus, the benefits of both menus have been proven for thousands of years and described in many scientific publications.

Pescatarian vegetarianism is a practice that has both positive and negative influences on health. First of all, it should be mentioned that fish and seafood contain not only essential amino acids, vitamins (E, B1, B6, B12, D), and minerals (potassium, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, iodine), which are absent in plant foods, but also the most essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Hence, the followers of the pesco-vegetarian diet, including professional sportspeople and bodybuilders, do not experience any acute shortage of protein in the menu. However, the cons of the pescatarian diet comprise:

  • the need for non-compliance with specific moral standards that are inherent in vegetarians;
  • loss of some benefits contrary to vegetarians and vegans who do not consume fish, poultry, and animal meat;
  • possible alteration of the digestive system.

There is a so-called “ovo-” group of vegetarians, whose followers refuse to eat some types of animal products. For instance, Lacto-Ovo vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat, fish, and seafood, but this diet includes eggs and dairy products. A typical Lacto-Ovo menu contains such products as fruits, vegetables, cereals, nuts mushrooms, milk, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. Accordingly, a well-balanced Lacto-Ovo-vegetarian diet is rich in vitamins (В2, A, D, PP, E, K, В1,) and ferments (lactase, phosphatase, reductase, lipase) (Górska-Warsewicz et al., 2019). Lacto-Ovo-vegetarianism, like other types of vegetarian diets, partially eliminates the possibility of obesity and, as a result, helps keep a body fit. Indeed, animal fat, which is contained in the products mentioned above in large quantities, hurts the health of arteries and veins. The Lacto-Ovo diet is low in carbohydrates and fats but high in antioxidants, which increases lifespan, and calcium as dairy products are the primary source of it. It is quite crucial to one’s health since a body that does not have enough calcium removes it from the bloodstream and makes the bones porous and brittle. What is essential to mention, Lacto-Ovo vegetarians face a high risk of overeating and digestive system diseases. It is a well-spread idea that vegetarianism is often associated with overeating, as the saturation of plant foods requires the absorption of massive portions.

The other type of “ovo-” vegetarianism, ovo-vegetarian kind of nutrition, permits the consumption of eggs but prohibits dairy products. Such kind of nourishment is chosen either for ethical reasons or lactose intolerance. According to the principles of the Ovo diet, plant food, eggs, and honey, which have a lot of nutrients and vitamins, can be consumed in any quantity, so this type of diet is allowed to adhere to people with weakened immunity. Eggs are rich in vitamin B12, which is responsible for mental activity, but the plant foods have a small amount of the vitamins. Therefore, Lacto-vegetarians, who exclude egg products from the diet, may need to use it in a pharmacy form. Eggs also provide such valuable substances for a body as vitamins E, B2, B6, folic acid, organic acids, iodine, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Furthermore, the eggs of domestic chickens contain the highest amounts of vitamin A and lecithin, which are necessary for the prevention of atherosclerosis. On the contrary, dense consumption eggs can increase the number of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Similarly to Lacto-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians should control the consumption of the use of dairy products to avoid a violation of calcium metabolism.

Lacto-vegetarian diet is based on eating dairy products, excluding meat, fish, and eggs, which is often the springboard to switch to vegan (strictly vegetarian) nutrition. Its adherents consume cheese and milk, which are the primary source of protein to their body (Ellis). Meanwhile, Lacto-vegetarians also debar from their diet cheeses that are made using abomasum of animal origin, as well as fermented milk products made with gelatin, such as yogurt. To a large extent, Lacto-vegetarianism is a type of ethical vegetarianism. People who adhere to this diet believe that it is ethically right to consume the products of animal origin in case they were obtained by non-violent means. However, Lacto-vegetarians refuse eating eggs, explaining that they contain an embryo, which is a living creature, so Lacto-vegetarianism is a perfect option for those who want to lower their blood cholesterol levels. Due to the presence of dairy products in the diet, the content of such vital substances as calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 is sufficient. Thus, following the principles of Lacto-vegetarianism, one will not need to consume a large number of food additives as a body receives all the necessary amino acids, thanks to the presence of dairy products in the ration.

The vegan diet is considered to be a more restricted form of vegetarianism, which excludes all the products of animal origin. Its followers mainly consume plants, legumes, nuts, and cereals. However, some strict vegans allow vegans to eat dried food, such as dried apricots, prunes, or raisins, but do not consume honey and all beekeeping food that is the product of small worker bees’ exploitation. Therefore, the vegan diet would pass people who have already experienced one of the less strict diets. Of course, some people may treat such limits too restraining in vitamins for their health. However, “a retrospective cohort study utilizing a Taiwan longitudinal health checkup database of 93,209 participants (of which 1116 were vegan), found no decrease in metabolic syndrome with a vegan diet when compared to pescovegetarian, lactovegetarian, and nonvegetarian diets” (Glick-Bauer & Yeh). Vegans also have proper digestion, as their diet contains a large amount of fiber, which is saturated in fruits, vegetables, and certain types of cereals.

Healthy eating that includes consumption of different products on a daily basis provides the body with the necessary macro- and microelements and vitamins. Such nutrition can increase one’s well-being significantly or even heal from several diseases, especially those associated with the digestive system or gastrointestinal tract. Contrary to popular belief about vegetarians’ weakness and morbidity, studies show that the incidence and, as a consequence, mortality due to cancer is 30 to 50% higher in people who regularly eat meat (Sinha et al., 2009). People observe vegetarians, whose daily diet and a sufficient number of herbal products prolongs their lives. Besides, vegetarians get normalized blood cholesterol levels and stabilized work of the cardiovascular system. However, switching to any form of vegetarianism, it is necessary to monitor the level of vitamin B12 in a body and take into account that “plant-based proteins have less of an anabolic effect than animal proteins due to their lower digestibility” (Richter, 2015). Moreover, when abandoning fish, there may be a lack of polyunsaturated acids Omega-3 and Omega-6, so it is imperative to include products full of these fatty acids, for example, unrefined sunflower oils or linseed. Vegetarians should also be acknowledged with the fact that excessive consumption of plant fiber interferes with the proper absorption of protein.

Summing up, there are numerous types of vegetarianism, which exclude or include some foods such as fish or dairy products depending on one’s preferences. Still, vegetarians, as well as people who eat meat, should closely monitor their intake, trying to balance the nutrients and vitamins, and trace all elements. The primary prerequisite to any diet is to enter any type gradually and wisely, along with monitoring one’s feelings and general state of health. The outcome of such practice is remaining healthy as many scholars confirm that abandoning animal products, many diseases can be avoided. There are many types of vegetarian diets, such as Pescatarian, Ovo-vegetarian, Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, Lacto-vegetarian, and Vegan, which all have some pros and cons, but provides a person with the necessary vitamins, ferments, and minerals.

Works Cited
Bogard, Jessica R., et al. “Linking Production and Consumption: The Role for Fish and Seafood in a Healthy and Sustainable Australian Diet.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 8, Aug. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723351/.

Ellis, Esther. “Building Muscle on a Vegetarian Diet.” EatRight, 15 Oct. 2019, https://www.eatright.org/fitness/training-and-recovery/building-muscle/building-muscle-on-a-vegetarian-diet.

Glick-Bauer, Marian, and Ming-Chin Yeh. “The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection.” Nutrients, vol. 6, no. 11, 31 Oct. 2014, pp. 4822–4838, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6114822.

Godfray, Charles H., et al. “Meat Consumption, Health, and the Environment”. Science, vol. 361, no. 6399, July 2018, doi: 10.1126/science.aam5324.

Górska-Warsewic, Hanna, et al. “Milk and Dairy Products and Their Nutritional Contribution to the Average Polish Diet.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 8, Aug. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723869/.

Fraser, Gary E. “Vegetarian Diets: What Do We Know of Their Effects on Common Chronic Diseases?” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 89, no. 5, July 2009, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677008/#!po=1.92308.

Richter, Chesney K et al. “Plant Protein and Animal Proteins: Do They Differentially Affect Cardiovascular Disease Risk?” Advances in Nutrition, Nov. 2015, pp. 712–728, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642426/.

Sinha, Rashmi et al. “Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people.” Archives of internal medicine vol. 169,6 (2009): 562-71. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.6.

Vorvick, Linda J, and David Zieve. “Vegetarian Diet: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 Aug. 2018, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002465.htm.

Wolfram, Taylor. “Vegetarianism: The Basic Facts.” EatRight, 1 Oct. 2018, https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/vegetarianism-the-basic-facts.

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