A blog post written by USF Dietetic Intern, Emily
October 1st is World Vegetarian Day! According to the Mayo Clinic, a balanced vegetarian diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers¹. Consuming less meat may be linked to a lower economic footprint if the plant-based proteins you consume were produced locally. There are a few different eating patterns to choose from when following a vegetarian diet:
- Lacto-vegetarian: excludes meat, poultry, and seafood products, but includes dairy
- Ovo-vegetarian: excludes meat, poultry, and seafood products, but includes eggs
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: excludes meat, poultry and seafood products, but includes dairy and eggs
- Pescatarian: excludes meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs, but includes fish
- Vegan: excludes meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs.
Most vegetarians decide to be vegetarian for the either ethical aspects or for their health. No matter your reasoning, this can be a satisfying, healthy dietary pattern if done correctly. Be aware though, a vegetarian diet isn’t automatically better for health and may take some planning. For a 2,000 calorie diet, a vegetarian should aim to eat 2.5 servings of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 6.5 ounces of grains, 3 cups of dairy (soy milk counts too!), and at least 3.5 ounces of protein foods, such as beans or legumes, each day. Other nutrients that are important to keep in mind with a vegetarian or vegan diet are omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, and zinc since they are commonly found in meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
You don’t have to switch your eating pattern overnight to get the health benefits of eating vegetarian. Small changes, such as having a “vegeFi burger” next time you go to BugerFi or choosing tofu, rice and beans at Moe’s Southwest Grill, instead of beef or pork, will help to reduce your saturated fat intake and improve heart health. If you aren’t already vegan or vegetarian, October 1st is a great day to try one of our many vegetarian meal options on campus. You can find these meal options here: Vegan and Vegetarian Options on Campus.