Vegetarian diets are plant based diets that do not contain any animal flesh (meat), but which can contain animal products such as eggs and milk. Vegetarian diets are associated with improved health outcomes because they contain high amounts of nutrients that are known to have beneficial health effects. These beneficial nutrients include fibre, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, magnesium and a range of antioxidant phytochemicals. Vegan diets are a form of vegetarian diet that contains no animal products whatsoever and as a result some of the nutrients associated with these products are not present in the diet. Studies have shown that vegan diets can increase the risk of particular nutritional deficiencies including vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin B12 and high quality protein. It is recommended that vegans pay particular attention to these nutrients and consume foods that specifically contain them, or use nutritional supplements to ensure an adequate intake.
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