Vegetarian Diet: Getting the Most Nutrition

October is Vegetarian Awareness month. 

A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the needs of people of all ages, including children, teenagers, and adults. It starts with the menu and ends with enjoying tasty foods. MyPyramid and MyPlate are helpful tools for a healthy diet, whether or not it is vegetarian.

People following vegetarian diets may do so for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, people can obtain all the nutrients they need from a vegetarian diet. However, they must be careful to eat a wide array of foods to meet their nutritional needs, paying close attention to protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

There are three main types of vegetarian diets:
1. Vegan: excludes all meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, and any foods that contain these products.
2. Lacto: excludes meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as foods that contain them. Dairy products are allowed.
3. Lacto-ovo: excludes meat, fish, and poultry, but allows eggs and dairy products. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. For more information on eating healthy, visit

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