What is vegetarianism? What are the different types of vegetarianism?

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Vegetarianism is a diet based primarily or exclusively on plants.  Depending on the type, it includes or excludes certain animal products.

There are many reasons why a person chooses a vegetarian diet.  Whether the reason is religious, philosophical or ideological, there are different types of vegetarianism, as demonstrated in the table below.

Table 1. The different types of vegetarianism



Ovo-lactovegetarian Ovo-vegetarian Lacto-vegetarian Pescatarian Vegan
Foods consumed Cereal products Cereal products Cereal products Cereal products Cereal products
Fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables Fruits and vegetables
Nuts, grains and legumes Nuts, grains and legumes Nuts, grains and legumes Nuts, grains and legumes Nuts, grains and legumes
Dairy products Dairy products Dairy products
Eggs Eggs
Fish and seafood

Most vegetarians exclude meat, poultry, fish and seafood from their diet. Vegans exclude all animal products from their diet, such as dairy products and eggs.

A vegetarian diet that is varied and balanced can cover the needs of a healthy adult.  However, the more restricted a diet is (e.g. veganism), the more varied it should be, as to avoid nutritional deficiencies.  Additionally, pregnant women on a vegan diet should pay careful attention to their diet.


Dietitians of Canada. Vegetarianism background. In PEN : practice-based evidence in nutrition®. Last update: Feb 21, 2012. Access only by subscription.

Lamontagne D., Caty C. et Paradis G. Manuel de Nutrition Clinique en ligne, Montréal, Ordre des diététistes du Québec, (2014).


Position of the American dietetic association: Vegetarian diet. (2009). Journal of the Academy of nutrition and dietetics. Volume 109, Issue 7 , Pages 1266-1282, July

Santé Canada. (2009).Lignes directrices sur la nutrition pendant la grossesse à l’intention des professionnels de la santé : Le fer. (Publication n° H164-109/1-2009F-PDF).


Shils, M.E., Shike, M., Ross, C., Caballero, B. & Cousins, R. (2006). Modern nutrition in health and diseases (10th ed.). Philadelphia, United States of America: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Extenso. (2012). À chacun son type de végétarisme.


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