Skip to content

Food & Recipes

Font Size

Vegetarian Diets - What is a vegetarian?

In a very general sense, a vegetarian is someone who doesn't eat meat. But that definition is too simple. There are several kinds of vegetarian diets:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat milk products—such as milk, cheese, and yogurt—and eggs, but no meat, poultry, seafood, or fish. "Lacto" means "milk." "Ovo" means eggs.
  • Lacto-vegetarians eat milk products, but not eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or fish.
  • Vegans (say "VEE-guns" or "VAY-guns") are total vegetarians. They eat only plant foods. They don't eat food that comes from animals in any way, including milk products, eggs, honey, and gelatin (which comes from bones and other animal tissue).

Many people are semi-vegetarian—most of the diet is vegetarian, but sometimes they may eat meat, poultry, seafood, fish, and/or eggs.

There are many reasons why some people choose vegetarian diets:

  • A vegetarian diet can be healthier than other diets.
  • Some people think it's wrong to use animals for food.
  • Some religions forbid eating meat.
  • A vegetarian diet can cost less than a diet that includes meat.
  • Eating less meat can be better for the environment, because most meat is commercially farmed.
  • Some people don't like the taste of meat.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 25, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Four spoons with mustards
    What condiments are made of and how much to use.
    salmon and spinach
    How to get what you need.
     
    grilled veggies
    Easy ideas for dinner tonight.
    Greek Salad
    Health benefits, what you can eat and more.
     

    WebMD Recipe Finder

    Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.



    bread
    Recipes
    soup
    Recipes
     
    roasted chicken
    Recipes
    grilled steak
    Video
     

    Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    vegetarian sandwich
    Recipes
    fresh vegetables
    Recipes
     
    smoothie
    fitArticle
    Foods To Boost Mens Heath Slideshow
    Slideshow