Vegetarian choices can be motivated by a dislike of meat, compassion for animals or belief in non-violence – or even simply economics.
Some vegetarians choose to eat eggs and dairy products, while others exclude some of these foods. Vegans are vegetarians who choose not to eat any animal products, including all dairy – like milk and cheese – as well as eggs.
Just like all diets, the nutrients you take in depend upon the food choices you make. Trusted Canadian health professionals universally affirm that it is possible to meet all of our nutrient needs while following a vegetarian diet. And, since there are so many health benefits to choosing more nutrient-dense, plant-based foods more often, adopting a vegetarian diet can, for some of us, mean a step forward in making healthier eating decisions.
That said, it is important for vegetarians to know how to swap meat and fish with nourishing alternatives, like soy-based foods and beverages, legumes such as lentils and beans, as well as nuts and seeds – and that can take some extra planning. But, as with most other great eating plans, the key to a delicious, nutritious vegetarian diet is to savour a wide variety of foods prepared in wholesome ways.