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One of humanity’s biggest mysteries is the Bermuda Triangle. Another one is: “What the heck do vegetarians eat?” (Hint: It’s not just lettuce.)
Whether you’ve been trying to transition to a plant-based diet or you’re just wondering what your friend’s new diet means, we’re here to tell you what’s on the menu.
Here’s a breakdown of the six main kinds of vegetarian diets.
Eat: whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, sometimes meat
Skip: processed meats, fast food
A flexitarian (aka semivegetarian) is someone who hasn’t yet gone 100 percent meat-free. They mostly eat vegetarian food but will indulge in meat on occasion. If you don’t feel ready to commit to a strict vegetarian diet yet, this can be a great stepping-stone.
Unlike other diets, a semivegetarian diet is rarely deficient in nutrients. Plus, research suggests that vegetarian lifestyles — including the flexitarian diet — are associated with better heart health! ❤️️
Eat: fish, seafood, dairy, eggs, whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes
Skip: mammal meat, poultry
Pescatarians don’t eat red meat or poultry… but they do eat fish! They can also choose to eat crustaceans, mollusks, or other seafood 🦞. Some pescatarians also abstain from eating eggs or other land-animal byproducts.
The pescatarian diet might help you keep your nutrient levels in a healthy range. A diet rich in fish can be a great source of:
- omega-3 fatty acids
- vitamin B12
Eat: whole grains, seasonal vegetables, legumes, nuts, seaweed, wild fish
Skip: meat, poultry, any processed foods
This diet was hella popular in the ’70s (and with good reason!). The macrobiotic diet is still revered for its health benefits.
Some folks argue that macrobiotic is more of a ~lifestyle~ than a diet, as it advocates for chemical-free, organic food. You mainly eat a lot of vegan foods and the occasional plate of fish.
A typical macrobiotic diet consists of:
- 30 percent whole grains
- 40 percent seasonal vegetables
- 20 percent protein (preferably vegetable-based)
- 10 percent seaweed, nuts, or other seeds
Pro tip: The macrobiotic diet excludes meat and dairy. So you might have to stock up on iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B12 supplements.
Eat: eggs, dairy, whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts
Skip: meat, poultry, fish, seafood
When you think of a vegetarian, you’re prob thinking of a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. This is someone who doesn’t eat meat, fish, or poultry but DOES eat dairy products and eggs.
You can also be a lacto-vegetarian (eating dairy but not eggs) or an ovo-vegetarian (eating eggs but not dairy).
Balance is a key part of the lacto-ovo-vegetarian lifestyle. To make up for the missing meat, make sure your diet is full of:
Eat: plant-based foods (whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts)
Skip: any animal products or byproducts (like honey, dairy, and gelatin)
Unlike lacto-ovo-vegetarians, vegans don’t eat any animal products. This includes animal byproducts like gelatin and honey.
The term “vegan” usually refers to more than a person’s diet. A vegan lifestyle also means you don’t buy clothes made from animal products (like leather, silk, and wool) or beauty products with animal-derived ingredients (like beeswax).
Research suggests a vegan diet can have multiple health benefits, including:
- reduced risk of heart disease
- reduced risk of certain cancers
- potentially lower blood sugar levels
- possible weight loss
This diet is restrictive AF, but some people swear by it. You can eat only vegan foods that haven’t been heated above 115°F. The idea is that fruits and veggies have more nutritional value when raw than when cooked.
This diet also comes with a higher risk of deficiency in several nutrients, including:
- vitamin D
- vitamin B12
There are lots of reasons to #GoVeg. Whether you want to be healthier, you want to help the planet, or you think eating meat is cruel, there are plenty of veg-friendly diets to try. It might take some trial and error, but you’ll eventually find the best balance for your diet and lifestyle.