5 types of Vegetarians

We've all heard about people who don't eat meat, which we call vegetarians. However, what most of us don't know - are the types of vegetarians. Curious to know more? Read below to find out more.


Types of Diets:

There are 5 types of vegetarians, which are: Vegan, Lacto-vegetarian, Ovo-vegetarian, Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, and Pescatarian. Each of them has its pros and cons and requires proper planning for the type of diet that you want and need.

Vegan

This is the most well-known and simplest form of diet. It excludes dairy, seafood, poultry, meat, and eggs. Basically all animal products.


Pros:

  • It helps you be healthy and help decrease your Body Mass Index (BMI)

  • Helps control your blood sugar – this, therefore, reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes

  • Decreases risk of heart disease by reducing LDL, total cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

  • Reduces symptoms of arthritis, such as pain, morning stiffness, and joint swelling.

  • Reduces the risk of having cancer

  • Helps avoid poor kidney function

  • Prevents Alzheimer’s disease

Cons:

  • High risk of nutrient deficiencies, which include the following nutrients: vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, iodine, zinc, calcium, and long-chain omega-3s.

To get complete nutrition, it is vital to plan a diet that consists of nutrient-rich plant foods. Fortified foods that have vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium should also be consumed. To enhance iron absorption, iron-rich foods and vitamin C sources should be intake. Iodized salt should be added to food to reduce deficiency in iodine. Lastly, foods that contain omega-3 is also needed.

Lacto-vegetarian

The word "Lacto" signifies that this type of diet allows dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. It excludes seafood, poultry, meat, and eggs.


Pros:

  • It makes your heart healthier – this type of diet decreases bad cholesterol and Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) which can cause heart disease. It also decreases your blood pressure to help prevent stroke.

  • Enhances control of your blood sugar – helps you avoid the development of Type 2 diabetes

  • Possibly help you avoid certain types of cancers – this includes breast and colorectal cancer.

  • Reduces BMI

Cons:

  • No consumption of seafood, meat, and poultry can cause your body to be deficient in iron, zinc, vitamin B12, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Lack of egg consumption can cause a deficiency in micronutrients, such as Vitamin D and A.

  • Shortage of those nutrients can cause the following: mood changes, anemia, stunted growth, and impaired immune function


In order to prevent those deficiencies to occur, you should consume whole foods, such as milk products, whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods that are plant-based. It is also advised that you intake an omega-3 supplement or a multivitamin.


Ovo-vegetarian

For this type of diet, "Ovo" or egg is included in their consumption. Egg products like egg noodles, mayonnaise, and certain baked goods are also allowed. However, it doesn’t allow the consumption of fish, poultry, meat, and milk products.


Pros:

  • May cause your body to be healthier due to less consumption of calories from saturated fats and added sugars. Foods that are part of the diet are also more nutrient-dense. Ovo-vegetarians also tend to maintain the suggested sodium levels.

  • It is beneficial for the heart – it lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as reversing plaque accumulation in blood vessels. This reduces the risk of heart disease by 30-40%.

  • Blood sugar is being balanced – insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control is improved to reduce your risk of having a Type 2 diabetes.

  • Supports gut health - increases growth of healthy bacteria in the gut that can cause improved digestive function and increased immunity.

  • Cheaper than purchasing dairy products and high-quality meat

  • Promotes good BMI

  • Decreases the risk of cancer

Cons:

  • Insufficient protein which is needed to maintain healthy hair, skin, muscles, organs, and bones.

  • Deficiency in nutrients which are: iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Some Ovo-vegetarian foods are not healthy and must be consumed sparingly. Examples of these are fried foods, dairy-free pastries, candies, cereals, sugar-sweetened beverages, and processed vegetarian meat substitutes.


It is necessary to choose whole and nutrient-dense foods. It is also best to avoid added sugars, refined grains, heavily refined oils, and ultra-processed junk foods. To complete your diet, you should eat vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts that are high in protein.




Lacto-Ovo vegetarian

A combination of the two diets, wherein egg, and milk products are allowed. Meat, poultry, fish and products that contain these foods are not allowed.

Pros:

  • Decreases risk of heart disease - improves the flow of blood to the heart and enhances blood vessel health. Blood pressure is decreased as well.

  • The risk of having coronary heart disease is lowered

  • Decreases risk of Type 2 diabetes

  • Reduces cancer risk

  • Lowers your risk of having gallstone disease

  • Helps you lose weight

Cons:

  • Insufficient nutrients which are: iron, zinc, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Some foods for lacto-ovo vegetarians are unhealthy because they are high in salt, calories, added sugar, unhealthy fats, and oils.

To maintain a balanced diet, it is necessary to consume whole plant foods, such as seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Dairy products like cheese, milk, and butter, as well as egg products, are also needed. It will also help if you will intake food supplements.

Pescatarian

This type of diet does not consume meat products but allows fish in their consumption. Eggs, dairy, and vegetarian products are also included in this diet.


Pros:

  • You will gain more Omega-3 – this improves your mood and is good for heart and brain function

  • You will get more nutrients from seafoodselenium, Zinc, Vitamin B12 from oysters; manganese, selenium, vitamin B12 and other B vitamins from mussels; niacin, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, and B12 from cod.

  • Increases your intake of protein

  • More food options in dining places

Cons:

  • Fish may contain mercury and other toxins

  • You may overeat carbs from processed grains

This type of vegetarian offers more flexibility, as well as added nutrition as compared to other diets. It also allows you to avoid environmental and ethical issues concerned with diets that contain meat.


In summary, being a vegetarian has many benefits. It is good for our health as long as additional sources of nutrients are consumed. Avoiding the consumption of meat and poultry products is more ethical. And lastly, it decreases the strain on our environment by lowering our personal greenhouse gas emissions.


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