Vegetarian diets eliminate all products derived from animal sources namely meat, dairies and eggs. Motivations behind these diets can be health, environmental, political, religious, cultural, etc. There are many variations of this diet that include or exclude some food, for instance:
- ovo-vegetarian includes eggs;
- lacto-vegetarian includes dairies;
- ovo-lacto vegetarian includes eggs and dairies;
- vegan excludes all animal products from food and in some cases, products tested on animals and clothing from animals;
- semi-vegetarian allows occasional meat products;
The diets are suitable for people with diabetes because they provide various health benefits overall. However, they have to be carefully planned to ensure they provide all the nutrients the body requires, while avoiding food that are by definition allowed, but unhealthy (such as food rich in fat). They do allow an unlimited consumption of carbs, but simple sugars should be avoided to prevent blood glucose spikes.
- Very healthful when properly balanced i.e. with diverse food to provide all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, minerals and amino-acids.
- The elimination of meat products, reducing fat intake, prevents certain diseases, especially coronary artery diseases, some cancer and reduces insulin resistance.
- Studies have shown that these diets provide multiple health benefits, such as lower body fat, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
- Require radical changes from the traditional Western diets.
- If not carefully planned and balanced, these diets can lead to some serious deficiencies in protein, calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, among others.
- Can be unhealthy if consumed with products that by definition are meat-free, but rich in unhealthy fat such as sweets and deserts.