Shifting to a Vegetarian Diet:
Practical Suggestions from
With a new understanding and appreciation of the health benefits of vegetarian diets, some are motivated to make changes in this direction. How is this accomplished? Is it difficult?
The term vegetarian encompasses a range of dietary practices. Although “vegetarian” is not consistently defined in the scientific literature, the following definitions are commonly used:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, but do con-
sume milk, dairy products, and eggs.
Lactovegetarians have a similar diet but exclude eggs.
Vegans (sometimes also called strict, pure, or total vegetarians) avoid all an-
imal products including dairy, eggs, and possibly honey. They may also refuse
to wear furs, leather, silk, or wool.
Semivegetarians (or partial vegetarians) include some animal foods, such as
fish and poultry, in the diet. They often avoid red meat.
It is not difficult or complicated to plan appealing and nutritionally adequate vegetarian meals. The same steps of food selection, preparation, and presentation that are used in conventional diets are necessary for vegetarians. Meals should be both tasty and nutritionally adequate. Here are some useful guidelines that are generally consistent with the most recent position paper issued by the American Dietetic Association (Messina and Burke, 1997).