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    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 a 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:

    • eggs
    • dairy products

    Lacto vegetarians. They eat dairy, but they don't eat:

    • meat
    • poultry
    • fish
    • eggs

    Lacto-ovo vegetarians. They eat dairy and eggs, but they don't eat:

    • meat
    • poultry
    • fish

    Pesco-vegetarians or pescetarians. They include fish in their diet, but they don't eat:

    • meat
    • poultry

    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:

    Will I need to take a vitamin?

    Sometimes, vegetarians do not get essential nutrients found in meat, such as:

    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:

    • fruit
    • vegetables
    • whole grains

    These vegetarian foods will help you balance your diet:

    Foods high in iron:

    • spinach
    • beet greens
    • dried fruit
    • broccoli
    • pumpkin seeds

    Foods high in protein:

    • eggs (for non-vegans)
    • soy products, including tofu
    • peanuts and other nuts
    • grains and cereals
    • beans
    • seeds
    • lentils

    Foods high in calcium:

    • milk and yogurt (if you eat dairy)
    • calcium-fortified soy milk
    • calcium-fortified orange juice
    • green leafy vegetables

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