FAQ: Vegetarian Diet for Teens
Are you thinking of becoming a vegetarian? Or maybe you have a vegetarian friend? Here's some key health information about being vegetarian.
Why become a vegetarian?
People choose to be vegetarians for all sorts of reasons. Some common reasons someone may consider a meatless diet:
- animal rights
- environmental concerns
- religious beliefs
- health and well-being
- personal likes and dislikes
Whatever your reason, it's important to keep your health and nutrition in mind when deciding what to eat.
Does becoming a vegetarian mean I can’t eat fish or eggs?
Not necessarily. There are many different ways to be a vegetarian. Here are some different types of vegetarians:
Vegans. They don't eat any type of animal product, including:
Lacto vegetarians. They eat dairy, but they don't eat:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians. They eat dairy and eggs, but they don't eat:
Pesco-vegetarians or pescetarians. They include fish in their diet, but they don't eat:
With so many options, you can pick the diet that works best for you.
Is a vegetarian diet healthier than a meat-eating diet?
Studies show that vegetarians may be at lower risk for some diseases and conditions, including:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- some forms of cancer
Will I need to take a vitamin?
Sometimes, vegetarians do not get essential nutrients found in meat, such as:
- vitamin D
- vitamin B12
Usually, you can get these nutrients from other food besides meat. But sometimes a daily multivitamin can be helpful. Talk to your doctor about the best way to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
What types of food should I eat?
The key to a healthy vegetarian diet is variety. This means you should try to eat a mix of foods that includes:
- whole grains
These vegetarian foods will help you balance your diet:
Foods high in iron:
- beet greens
- dried fruit
- pumpkin seeds
Foods high in protein:
- eggs (for non-vegans)
- soy products, including tofu
- peanuts and other nuts
- grains and cereals
Foods high in calcium:
- milk and yogurt (if you eat dairy)
- calcium-fortified soy milk
- calcium-fortified orange juice
- green leafy vegetables