Vegetarian diets do not contain meat, poultry or fish, vegan diets further exclude dairy products and eggs. Vegetarian and vegan diets can vary widely.
In general, vegetarian diets provide relatively large amounts of cereals, pulses, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
In terms of nutrients, vegetarian diets are usually
- rich in carbohydrates, n-6 fatty acids, dietary fibre, carotenoids, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E and Mg,
- relatively low in protein, saturated fat, long-chain n-3 fatty acids, retinol, vitamin B12, zinc (Zn),
- vegans may have particularly low intakes of vitamin B12 and low intakes of Ca.
On average, vegetarians and vegans have a relatively low BMI and a low plasma cholesterol concentration, but higher plasma homocysteine concentrations than in non-vegetarians. Overall, the data suggest that the health of Western vegetarians is good and similar to that of comparable non-vegetarians.