What is a Vegetarian?

A vegetarian diet consists of plant foods, including vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.), as well as dairy products, such as milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream. In other words, a vegetarian diet means a vegan diet plus dairy.

Here are a few reasons why a vegetarian diet is beneficial:

1. Vegetarian cuisine is naturally low in saturated fats. Foods of plant origin contain no cholesterol.

2. Plant foods are high in fiber, while animal foods contain no fiber.

3. Many plant foods contain significant amounts of B vitamins, including folic acid. Fruit and vegetables are powerful sources of phytochemicals: nutrients that help every organ of the body work better and help prevent cancer and infections.

4. Vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories, since grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, volume-for-volume, tend to be lower in calories than meat and poultry. Studies have shown that as long as a diet is balanced and nutritious, people who consume fewer total daily calories live longer and healthier lives.

vegetarian salad
vegetarian diet cooking
Diets page Vegetarian

5. Foods from plant sources, which are lower on the food chain, are safer than animal foods, since pollutants (think pesticides, herbicides, PCBs, etc.) tend to concentrate in fatty tissues. While raw fruits and vegetables can carry harmful bacteria and pesticide residues just as meat does, many of these pollutants can be removed by washing the plant foods or buying organic. See www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives for the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides, which can be avoided by eating organic produce. Trimming the fat from meat or chicken is less effective. Meat, poultry, and seafood are also more frequent carriers of foodborne illnesses than plant sources

6. Environmental conservationists state that eating a plant-based diet is healthier for the planet. This diet requires less energy to produce: less farmland is needed to feed a vegetarian than is needed to feed livestock.