Health & nutrition section:
Health & nutrition fact sheets:
Health & nutrition
Everyone wants to be sure that they are eating a healthy diet. It has been demonstrated that vegetarian and vegan diets can meet the nutritional needs for people of all ages.
“Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diet, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” [American Dietetic Association]
Research shows that in many ways a vegetarian diet is healthier than that of a typical meat eater. Compared with omnivorous diets a varied vegetarian diet contains less saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and more folate, fibre, antioxidants, phytochemicals and carotenoids. Research studies have found that vegetarians have a lower incidence of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and type II diabetes.
A balanced vegetarian diet is likely to exceed the recommended intake of 5-a-Day fruit and vegetables which is linked to lower rates of colon and some other cancers. A vegetarian diet is sometimes recommended for people with chronic conditions such as arthritis and kidney problems.
Our health factsheets show you how a vegetarian diet can help with certain medical conditions and what the scientific evidence for this is. We recognise that some vegetarians have persistent health problems or allergies and food intolerance that put further restrictions on what they can eat.
The Vegetarian Society aims to bring you clear, updated dietary guidance based on official UK nutritional recommendations*. We do, in fact, have different dietary needs as men or women and varying needs at different stages in our lives.
Guidance on the basics and main food groups for vegetarians can be found on our vegetarian nutrition section in our series of factsheets: Protein, Fats, Cholesterol and Omegas, Vitamins and Minerals showing the intakes you should be aiming for depending on your age.
* The Vegetarian Society dietary values for foods are taken from the Composition of Foods by Widdowson McCance as used by the government Food Standards Agency and TSO publications.