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Healthy eating for vegetarians and vegans

Advice on switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, including essential nutrients and healthy eating.

To ensure you have a balanced and varied diet, read our advice on healthy eating for vegetarians and vegans.

To have a healthy, balanced diet which includes all the nutrients your body needs, make sure you eat a wide variety of foods.

Vegetarians and vegans eat a diet of:

Vegetarians (but not vegans) also eat:

Vegetarians and vegans don't eat:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • game
  • fish or shellfish (such as crab or lobster)
  • animal by-products (such as gelatine)

In addition, vegans don't eat eggs and dairy products.

Some people who call themselves vegetarians may eat different combinations of these foods. For example, some may consume milk but not eggs, while some may eat fish but not meat.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians

Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs. This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.

Lacto vegetarians

Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products, but not eggs.

Ovo vegetarians

Ovo vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products.

Vegans

Vegans don't eat dairy products, eggs or any other animal product.

More information

It's estimated that around 2% of the UK population is vegetarian, which is more than 1.2 million people. Teenagers make up the highest proportion. Vegans are thought to make up less than 1% of the population, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey

A vegetarian or vegan diet can be suitable for everyone, regardless of their age. However, you may need to consider specific needs at different stages of life  for example, if you're pregnant.

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