Vegetarians are people who do not eat meat. Vegetarians are categorized by three groups because their choices of foods vary. People who call themselves vegans have a diet that consists of plant foods alone. Those who consider themselves lacto-vegetarians consume plant foods along with dairy foods, except for eggs. The third group, lacto-ovo vegetarians, consume dairy foods, eggs, and plant foods, but they do not eat meat or fish. According to MyPyramid.gov, there are certain foods that should be included in a vegetarian diet to maintain good health.
Protein foods are needed for growth and support of the body’s tissues. Foods such as milk, cheese and egg whites are protein foods listed for lacto-ovo vegetarians by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Other protein foods a lacto-ovo vegetarian can eat include peas, nuts, tofu and soy-based foods. Some protein foods a lacto-ovo vegetarian can eat also enhance performance of the immune system. These foods contain zinc and examples of them include white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and cereals that manufacturers fortify with zinc.
Vegetables are the major part of a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and they are beneficial because of the valuable vitamins and minerals they contain. Some beneficial vegetables a lacto-ovo vegetarian can eat include spinach, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, red and green peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes. According to Girlshealth.gov, some other suitable choices of vegetables include Chinese cabbage, bok choy, kale and spring greens because of the calcium they contain. Some of them can be eaten raw in salads, or they can be steamed or grilled. Vegetable soup is also one of the foods a lacto-ovo vegetarian can eat.
A lacto-ovo vegetarian can eat fruits of all types, and fruits that contain vitamin C are particularly good to eat because they assist the absorption of iron by the body. Iron absorption can be a problem for some vegetarians since the body does not absorb iron from plants well. Beneficial vitamin C choices include cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, papaya and citrus fruits. Orange juice is also a good source of vitamin C for lacto-ovo vegetarians.