There Are 7 Types Of Vegetarianism — How To Know Which One Is Best For You (2023)

Functional Food


Updated on March 14, 2022

mbg Contributing Writer

By Nikhita Mahtani

mbg Contributing Writer

(Video) How Can Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

Nikhita Mahtani is an NYC-based freelance journalist covering primarily health and design. She graduated with an M.A in Magazine Journalism from New York University.

VegetarianFlexitarianPescatarian Lacto-VegetarianOvo-VegetarianVeganRaw Vegan

Which one is right for you?

Last updated on March 14, 2022

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Maybe you think going vegetarian will be better for your health. Maybe you're passionate about animal rights. Or maybe you're concerned about the environment and want to do your part to save it.

Whatever the reason, you're considering giving vegetarianism a try, which is great—but you should definitely do your research first.


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"Vegetarianism has long been a staple in many cultures," explains Yasi Ansari, M.S., RDN. "It culturally began as a way to respect and care for animals and as a nonviolent practice toward animals. Today, more and more people are exploring more plant foods for various health benefits and the beneficial impact that eating more plant foods can have on the environment."

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Traditionally, vegetarianism can include any number of variants, such as removing animal products altogether—including items that come from animals, such as milk and honey—or simply devoid of animal flesh, fish, and seafood.

We’ve broken down the different types of vegetarian lifestyles below and how to decide which one is right for you.


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Types of vegetarians.

(Video) What you need to know before switching to a vegetarian diet

Check out the most common versions of vegetarianism below:


Vegetarian (aka lacto-ovo vegetarians)

"Vegetarians will not eat meat, poultry, fish, or seafood but will eat dairy products, honey, and eggs," says Marissa Meshulam, M.S., R.D., CDN. Since it includes a number of high-protein foods like eggs and lentils, it's a pretty sustainable way to eat if you want to exclude all meat from your diet.


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(Video) My VEGETARIAN WIFE ate this!!! #shorts


"A flexitarian is more of a flexible vegetarian eating pattern, where your intake is mostly vegetarian, but you'll eat chicken, steak, or any other animal product when you're craving it," says Ansari. "Think less meat and more plant-based foods." This is the least restrictive vegetarian eating pattern and could also be called "mostly plant-based"—aka, veggies make up the bulk of your plate much of the time but not always.



"A pescatarian is a vegetarian who also eats fish, along with eggs and dairy," says Meshulam. It's a great option if you want to get some extra protein in your diet. It's also touted as a great diet for getting ample brain-supporting1 omega-3 fatty acids, which are otherwise found in foods like chia seeds or walnuts. For inspiration, check out these 15 healthy pescetarian meals.


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"A lacto-vegetarian abstains from eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and fish but eats dairy," explains Meshulam. In India, for instance2, a lacto-vegetarian diet is synonymous with vegetarianism as a whole, since Hinduism considers eggs and egg products to be animals.



"Ovo-vegetarians include eggs and egg products in their diet, but they don't eat dairy or other animal proteins such as seafood, fish, poultry, and meat," says Ansari. Many lactose-intolerant vegetarians may choose to eat this way.


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"A vegan diet means eliminating all animal products, including those of animal origin," says Meshulam. "This means no eggs, dairy, or even honey."

Outside of diet, most vegans also eliminate animal-based products in their daily life. For example, they won't wear leather or fur goods or use products that include any animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin.

(Video) Here's What Happens To Your Brain And Body When You Go Vegan | The Human Body


Raw vegan

"This is often the strictest form of a vegetarian diet," explains Ansari. "A raw vegan excludes foods of animal origin. There is no cooking involved, and the uncooked foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, sprouted grains, nuts, herbs, and seeds, with the belief that raw and minimally cooked/heated foods (less than 114 degrees Fahrenheit) provide more nutrients than foods that are cooked."

Raw vegan diets have been associated with low cholesterol levels3, but there isn't a consensus on whether one type of vegetarian diet may be healthier than another.

Why do people opt for more plant-based diets?

If you're looking to switch to a more plant-based diet, you're not alone. But while it might seem like a trendy new term that hits you in the face every time you open Instagram, it can actually have some incredible benefits for both your health and the environment4.

"I think, overall, we are becoming more health-focused as a population," says Meshulam. "With that, people are understanding that incorporating more plant-based foods can have many benefits. Plant-based diets have been linked5 to a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers."

She adds that people are becoming more and more earth-conscious and opting to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle due to the environmental impact offactory farming.

For instance, one study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that transitioning to more plant-based diets could reduce global mortality by 6 to 10%, and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 29 to 70%—when compared with a reference scenario for the year 2050.

In addition, a 2013 study aimed at physicians asks them to consider recommending a plant-based diet6 to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.

Provided you're doing it strategically—aka, your diet is full of whole foods, protein-rich plants, and complex carbs, as opposed to processed (albeit vegan-friendly) food—you should be able to reap plenty of benefits, says Ansari.

How to know which type of vegetarian diet is right for you.

It may sound a little obvious, but listen to your intuition and your body.

Maybe certain religious or ethical reasons encourage you to go completely vegan, or you may feel better with a piece of steak in your diet on occasion.

Perhaps you do a lot of weight training workouts, so you feel like you need protein from poultry and seafood—or maybe just keeping eggs in the mix feels like enough.

"I encourage my clients to focus on what foods feel right to them at this current point in their life, with the awareness that it can change," says Meshulam. "This allows flexibility around food and creates a sense of trust within our bodies that we can honor what we need." For instance, she says some people really thrive off a mostly vegetarian diet, while others feel good incorporating certain animal products. "I would pay attention to your energy levels and satisfaction and see what is right for you."

In addition, Ansari recommends working with a dietitian or checking out the macros in your food so you can be sure you're meeting the adequate nutrient requirements when it comes to your diet.

"I would recommend transitioning in phases—either a few days a week or removing food groups gradually," she says. "You can 100% meet your nutritional needs through food and the right supplements. A few key nutrients I monitor during the transition include B-12, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, omega-3, iron, and zinc."

(Video) Top 5 Non-Dairy Vegan Everyday Food Super Rich in Calcium | Dr. Hansaji Yogendra

The bottom line.

Transitioning to a vegetarian diet can be totally healthy and help you reach your health goals, provided it's done in the right way. Do your research, trust your intuition, find some yummy recipes, and see how it goes.


How many types of vegetarianism is there? ›

What you may not know is that there are actually seven different types of vegetarians! Yes, seven. Because vegetarianism isn't just whether or not you eat vegetables as your primary source of nutrition and can have varying rules and practices, many vegetarians choose to identify with a more specific way of eating.

What are 3 nutrients to consider that vegetarians should be careful to get enough of in their diet? ›

Eating a wide variety of foods will make it easier to meet your nutritional requirements. Essential nutrients that are harder to obtain in a vegetarian diet, if not carefully planned – include protein, some minerals (especially iron, calcium and zinc), vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

What is the best way for vegetarians to get all the amino acids that their body needs? ›

Without meat and dairy, you still need to consume essential amino acids. Vegans can get protein from nuts, peanut butter, seeds, grains, and legumes.

What is the most strict type of vegetarian? ›

Veganism is by far the strictest form of vegetarian diet out there. It requires the elimination of all animal products and by-products, whether they require animal slaughter or not.

What is the most common type of vegetarian diet? ›

Lacto-ovo vegetarianism, the most common type of vegetarian diet, involves eliminating all meat, poultry and fish. Other types of vegetarians may also avoid foods like eggs and dairy.

What are the 3 most common types of vegetarians? ›

Check out the most common versions of vegetarianism below:
  • Vegetarian (aka lacto-ovo vegetarians)
  • Flexitarian.
  • Pescatarian.
  • Lacto-vegetarian.
  • Ovo-vegetarian.
  • Vegan.
  • Raw vegan.

Who are vegetarians short answer? ›

a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc.

What are the 5 types of vegetarians? ›

Get to know the 8 types of vegetarians—from flexitarians to ovo-vegetarians to raw vegans
  • Vegetarians. ...
  • Flexitarians. ...
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarians. ...
  • Lacto-vegetarians. ...
  • Ovo-vegetarians. ...
  • Vegans. ...
  • Raw vegans.
12 Aug 2020

What 3 minerals can potentially be low in a strict vegans diet? ›

Researchers have also found that levels of zinc, protein, selenium, and other nutrients are low in vegan diets. However, consuming fortified foods and supplements can ensure that a person with a vegan diet is receiving sufficient nutrition.

What nutrients are difficult to get in a vegetarian diet? ›

The nutrients of concern in the diet of vegetarians include vitamin B(12), vitamin D, ω-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and zinc. Although a vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients, the use of supplements and fortified foods provides a useful shield against deficiency.

Which type of vegetarians is most likely to have nutrient deficiencies? ›

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians can get adequate amounts of this nutrient from dairy products and eggs, but this is much more challenging for vegans ( 3 ). So, vegans who don't take supplements are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency than vegetarians ( 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ).

Which vegetarian food has all 9 amino acids? ›

There are a few vegetarian sources that contain all 9 essential amino acids, including eggs and dairy (for those lacto-ovo vegetarians), as well as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina.

Which amino acid is hardest to get on a vegan diet? ›

Common examples of the limiting amino acids in plant-based proteins include lysine, methionine, isoleucine, threonine and tryptophan. Of these, lysine appears to be to be most commonly absent, particularly from cereal grains [46].

How can I get all of the essential amino acids that I need if I eat incomplete amino acids? ›

But we need to get the remaining nine types of amino acids, called "essential amino acids" through other sources, such as the food we eat.
Incomplete proteins.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • ‌Whole grains (like brown rice or whole-wheat bread)
  • ‌Vegetables.
  • ‌Legumes in the form of lentils, peas, and beans.
1 Jun 2021

What type of vegetarian is healthiest? ›

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet

For most people, this is a healthy diet. Advantages of the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet include: A wide array of options for consuming protein, including eggs, cheese, milk and yogurt. Less risk of low intake of vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron compared to some other vegetarian diet options.

Which is healthier eating meat or being a vegetarian? ›

The health factor

And people who don't eat meat — vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.

Who were the first vegetarians? ›

Some of the first self-proclaimed vegetarians were the Pythagoreans, a title derived from the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, creator of the geometric Pythagorean theorem. Though Pythagoras loaned his name to the meatless diet, it is unclear whether or not he followed a strict vegetarian regimen.

What are 4 reasons why people may choose to be vegetarian? ›

People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources.

Are vegetarians healthier than people who eat meat fact or opinion? ›

Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.

Why vegetarian diet is best? ›

Many studies agree that a vegetarian diet can offer a range of health benefits. Studies show that a vegan or vegetarian diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer. A non-meat diet may also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Is it better to be pescatarian or vegetarian? ›

Both a vegetarian and pescatarian diets are unquestionably healthy for you when you follow the basic principles of healthy eating and include whole, nutrient-dense foods. Pescatarianism should offer all of the benefits of a plant-based diet, plus the added benefits of eating fish.

What's the difference between vegan vegetarian and pescatarian? ›

Vegetarian, vegan, and pescatarian diets all involve eating less meat and poultry. Pescatarian diets include seafood, while vegan diets exclude all animal-derived products, including dairy and eggs.

What are the four most common types of vegetarianism? ›

The Four Types of Vegetarian Diets Explained
  • The Vegan Diet. This is the most restrictive type of vegetarian diet. ...
  • Lacto-Vegetarianism. ...
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarianism (Ovo-Lacto Semi Vegetarian) ...
  • Pescatarians. ...
  • Flexitarians.
22 Aug 2022

What is a true vegetarian? ›

According to the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, or by-products of animal slaughter (1) Vegetarian diets contain various levels of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds.

How do you explain what vegetarian is? ›

The simplest definition of vegetarianism is a diet free of meat, fish, and fowl flesh. But dietary habits of vegetarians cover a wide spectrum. At one end are lacto-ovo vegetarians, who avoid animal flesh but eat eggs and milk products.

Do vegetarians have more girl babies? ›

Try vegetarian diet, study says. LONDON — A British study of how diet affects the health of new mothers and their babies produced the surprise finding that vegetarian women are more likely to have girls, one of the report's authors said Tuesday.

How do you differentiate types of vegetarians? ›

There are several sub-types of vegetarians: Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish and poultry but allows eggs and dairy products. Lacto-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and eggs but allows dairy products. Ovo-vegetarian diet: Eliminates meat, fish, poultry and dairy products but allows eggs.

Can you be half vegan? ›

The Flexitarian Diet is a style of eating that encourages eating mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation. It's more flexible than fully vegetarian or vegan diets.

What is a Level 5 vegetarian? ›

Level 5 vegans are those who are seen as incredibly committed to the vegan lifestyle, and are often hailed as “extreme vegans”. Level 5 vegans go to an extensive effort to follow a vegan lifestyle that is free of any type of animal product or animal exploitation.

What vitamin has no meat? ›

Vitamin C is the only essential vitamin not found in useful amounts in cooked animal foods. It is a powerful antioxidant that is important for the maintenance of connective tissue. It also functions as a co-factor for many enzymes in the body.

What causes a vitamin D deficiency? ›

In general, the two main causes of vitamin D deficiency are: Not getting enough vitamin D in your diet and/or through sunlight. Your body isn't properly absorbing or using vitamin D.

Can you live without meat? ›

Even though meats provide certain nutrients that plants don't, eating meat isn't necessary for your health or survival. With appropriate planning and supplements, plant-based diets can provide the nutrients your body needs.

How do I start being a vegetarian? ›

You may find it works best to first give up red meat, then poultry, then fish. Or you may switch over your pantry to all vegetarian to start with a clean slate. You may also choose certain days of the week to go vegetarian, like practicing Meatless Mondays.

Do vegetarians lack fat? ›

Vegan and vegetarian diets tend to be lower in saturated fat than diets containing meat. However, both saturated and hydrogenated fats are found in some vegetarian foods. Saturated fats are mainly in animal products such as butter, cream and hard cheese, but also in palm oil and coconut products.

Which nutrients are vegetarians and vegans most at risk of being deficient in select the best possible answer? ›

If you look at all types of vegetarian diets as a group, and all research studies of these diets, vitamin B12 is the nutrient most likely to be deficient in this type of eating plan.

Why is a vegetarian more at risk for protein deficiencies? ›

We associate protein with meat, so it may seem that deficiencies among vegetarians are common—but in fact, enough protein can easily be obtained in a veggie diet. “Since plant-based protein sources are so abundant, a protein deficiency in those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is rare,” Hostler says.

What food has all 7 amino acids? ›

2. Quinoa. It is one of the richest sources of all essential amino acids. Quinoa contains isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, cysteine, methionine, threonine, histidine, tryptophan and valine.

What food has all 22 amino acids? ›

Protein from animal sources, such as beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk and cheese, contains all the 22 amino acids humans need.

Can you be 95% vegan? ›

The 95% Vegan Diet asserts that the highest goal is to eat a 100% plant-based diet with zero added fat. But it realizes that for most people this is difficult to achieve over the long term.

Is Red Bull vegan? ›

Although the ingredients are technically all plant-based, many vegans avoid Red Bull as the company tests on animals, according to Peta.

Do vegans lack protein? ›

A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein. However, many experts agree that a well-planned meatless diet can provide all the nutrients you need, including protein ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ).

What happens if you don't eat essential amino acids for a long time? ›

Amino acid deficiency can result in decreased immunity, digestive problems, depression, fertility issues, lower mental alertness, slowed growth in children, and many other health issues. Each of the essential amino acids plays a different role in the body, and the symptoms of deficiency vary accordingly.

What foods give you all 9 amino acids? ›

Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins. These foods include beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, soy, quinoa and buckwheat. Foods that contain some but not all the essential amino acids are called incomplete proteins. These foods include nuts, seeds, beans and some grains.

What happens if you eat more amino acids than you need? ›

If you consume more amino acids than your body needs, the excess amino acids are broken down and leave your body as waste. Just like taking any other nutrients, if you consume more amino acids than what your body needs, it can be a burden for your body.

What are the 4 main types of vegetarian? ›

The Four Types of Vegetarian Diets Explained
  • The Vegan Diet. This is the most restrictive type of vegetarian diet. ...
  • Lacto-Vegetarianism. ...
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarianism (Ovo-Lacto Semi Vegetarian) ...
  • Pescatarians. ...
  • Flexitarians.
22 Aug 2022

What are the 5 main food groups for vegetarians? ›

But here is a guide of the five plant-based food groups that make up a healthy, wholesome and balanced diet:
  • Vegetables. No doubt we all know how amazing vegetables are for us! ...
  • Fruit. Despite what most people seem to believe, fruit is not just sugar. ...
  • Whole grains. ...
  • Legumes. ...
  • Nuts and Seeds.
9 Sept 2017

What are the 3 main vegetarian alternatives to meat? ›

The 10 best vegan meat alternatives
  • Tofu. Tofu is the classic meat alternative and has been one of the basic sources of nutrition in Asia for centuries. ...
  • Soy protein. Soy chunks and mince are very inexpensive ingredients that are easy to prepare. ...
  • Tempeh. ...
  • Seitan/wheat protein. ...
  • Lupin protein. ...
  • Green spelt. ...
  • Oat flakes. ...
  • Black beans.
11 Nov 2019

Who is the vegetarian very short answer? ›

Definition of vegetarian

a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc. of or relating to vegetarianism or vegetarians. devoted to or advocating this practice.

What food group should you eat the most of? ›

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you should consume the highest proportion of your foods from the grain group. However, you should consume almost as many portions from the vegetable group; fill your plate a little over one-fourth full with grains and add almost the same amount of vegetables.

Can vegetarians drink milk? ›

Vegetarians may eat dairy products, eggs, honey, and other byproducts that do not involve the slaughter of animals. However, there are several variations of the vegetarian diet. For example, some vegetarians choose to eat eggs but not dairy products.

Can you be 14 vegetarian? ›

Well-planned vegetarian diets can be nutritious for people of all ages and can provide you with all the nutrients for good health. But planning is key! A dietitian can help make sure your teen is getting all the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy.

Can you be 100% vegan? ›

Being a 'food vegan' is 100 percent achievable. This is the main issue that we need to focus on—not the extraneous issues.

What is class 3 vegetarian? ›

People who only eat meat are called vegetarians.

What is healthier vegan or meat eater? ›

Plant-based diets are healthier than diets where meat is consumed, whether measured by the occurrence of heart disease, cancer, or death. These benefits are likely because of both the avoidance of meat and the predominance of dietary vegetables and fruits.

Who's healthier meat eaters vegetarians? ›

Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates and lower risk of chronic disease.


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