The vegetarian diet can be perfectly compatible with a balanced diet. Intakes of fruits, pulses and oilseeds and a healthy lifestyle produce positive effects on the incidence of many diseases.

The vegetarian diet is defined by the exclusion of foods coming from animals or fish. It also speaks of when vegans are banned milk products and / or eggs. If these foods are allowed, we say they are lacto-vegetarians or lacto-ovo vegetarians.

To compensate for the lack of meat in their diet, vegetarians consume many fruits and vegetables and food sources of plant proteins such as cereals and legumes.

In a study conducted between 1997 and 2007 in the Paris region it was found that vegetarianism is more prevalent in social groups with a good level of education, particularly among professionals. Vegetarianism is more popular in males but in the upper classes it is more commonly found in women.

Can vegetarian diets lead to deficiencies?
According to Professor Fernand Lamisse, nutrition specialist at the University of Tours, any deficiencies related to lack of consumption of meat and fish are easy to compensate by eating cereals and legumes.

Vitamin B12 is present in sufficient quantities only in foods of animal origin and that is why the vegetarianism increases the risk of anemia.

Iron exists in several chemical forms. Iron which comes from animals is 4 to 5 times better absorbed by the body than iron from plant foods or eggs. However, vitamin C , is also present in plants and it promotes the absorption of iron.

In the absence of dairy products, calcium intake may be inadequate so we must then focus on vegetables and fruits which are rich in calcium like watercress, spinach and oleaginous fruits (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios ...) which provide between 100 and 250 mg calcium/100g.
Vitamin C is in widely present in vegetarian and vegan food.

What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet?
Numerous studies show a lower prevalence of hypertension and coronary heart disease in vegans. In the vegetarian diet the quantity and nature of ingested fat (less saturated fatty acids, more polyunsaturated fatty acids and mono-unsaturated) are less .Other dietary factors may be involved like the consumption of more fiber and even lifestyle (no smoking, more physical activity)makes a difference. All this helps to lower the risk of heart disease.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes

Vegetarians have a weight close to that which is desirable for age and sex. The high content of fiber that the vegetarian diet has , has an effect on a faster satiety of appetite. There is an inverse association between the fiber and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Legumes have a low glycemic index (meaning that blood sugar rises slowly) and there is an inverse correlation between the incidence of type 2 diabetes and the consumption of low glycemic index.


The 7th day Adventists (Protestant movement) are living very healthy. They do not consume alcohol, no tobacco, no drugs or coffee and tea and recommend a vegetarian diet. Numerous studies have focused on this group since 1958. Regarding the incidence of cancer, the results are controversial. Studies in California showed a lower relative risk among Adventists compared with the general population. In contrast, the Norwegian studies have found no differences.
This suggests that the decrease in the incidence of some cancers is more related to increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and nuts as the lack of meat.

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