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Vegetarians - who eats what?

Vegetarians, vegans and pescetarians - who eats what?

Meat isn't on their menu, of course. But when it comes to fish, eggs, yogurt and cheese, vegetarians, presetarians and vegans differ from each other. Here you will find an overview of the vegetarian diet.

There are now many people who follow a vegetarian diet. And the number of vegans is also growing. According to the Robert Koch Institute, around four out of 100 adults now have the vegetarian diet to. The latest surveys by the VEBU (Vegetarian Association of Germany) show that around 10 percent of the population forego meat products and other products from the animal industry. This means that around 8 million people in Germany have a meatless diet have switched. There are many good reasons for a vegetarian diet. Most people who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, Often for health reasons or ethical reasons, do without animal foods.

With vegetarianism there are clear differences in the implementation in everyday life. Because many people live out the renunciation of animal foods in different ways. While vegans forego all animal products such as honey, leather, eggs, etc., the spectrum in vegetarianism ranges from flexitarians to pescetarians to ovo vegetarians.
We'll provide you different types of vegetarianism and explain what to look for in a vegetarian / vegan diet.

Which nutrients are missing from a vegetarian diet?

A vegetarian or vegan diet often lacks vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, iodine, zinc as well as proteins and vitamins B2 and B12. It is important that vegetarians and vegans make sure that they consume enough of these nutrients, otherwise there is a risk of deficiency symptoms and, in the worst case, disease.

Vitamin D

The "sun vitamin" is important for the calcium and phosphate balance, bone formation, as well as the immune and cancer defense. It is found in very small amounts in mushrooms and margarine. The sun remains the best source of vitamin D. If this does not seem to be the case, it is advisable for everyone in our latitudes to take vitamin D as a dietary supplement.

Omega-3 fatty acids

More and more people are consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids and too few omega-3 fatty acids every day. These are extremely important for eye and brain development, as well as for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Vegans and vegetarians find omega-3 fatty acids in flax, hemp, walnut and rapeseed oil.


It is the building block of our bones and teeth, important for blood collection, nerve excitation and the stabilization of cell membranes. We find calcium in all nuts, as well as green vegetables, mineral water and fortified products such as soy yoghurt or almond milk.


The thyroid gland in particular needs this mineral so that it can work without problems. But iodine also plays an important role in bone and brain development and cell division. The substance can be found in table salt containing iodine and algae.


Zinc plays a crucial role in the metabolism, as it is an indispensable component of enzymes. It is important for protein metabolism and cell division. Zinc is important for skin, hair, wound healing, the hormonal balance and the immune system. We find it in whole grains, legumes, oil seeds, and nuts.


Everything in our body consists of 20 protein-forming amino acids. Proteins are part of every cell, important for the musculature (maintenance and development) and also keep us full longer than carbohydrates or fats. This is because the body takes longer to break down the protein into its usable components. Although protein with the highest biological value is found in animal protein, vegetarians and vegans can use grains, legumes, oil seeds and soy products such as tofu. Low-fat quark, milk and cheese are also suitable for vegetarians.

Vitamin B2 and B12

Vitamin B2 plays an important role in the production of energy and in the breakdown of nutrients. Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is important for blood formation, serves to protect nerve cells and the breakdown of homocysteine, an amino acid that can be harmful to the body in too high a concentration. B2 is found in mushrooms, nuts, oil seeds, cereals and legumes. However, B12 is only found in very small amounts in plant-based foods, which is why vegans in particular should resort to fortified soy products or supplements. Important: Have your doctor regularly check your B12 level.


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Which foods are high in iron?

As part of hemoglobin, the pigment in red blood cells, iron is responsible for transporting oxygen in the body. We differentiate in its bioavailability between bivalent and trivalent iron. The Bioavailability indicates how well the iron is absorbed by the body. Bivalent iron from meat and fish has a bioavailability of 15-35%, trivalent iron from plant-based foods, however, only 2-20%. Vitamin C and fermented soy products promote iron absorption, while tea, coffee, soy, milk and egg protein, as well as phytates from grain, legumes and nuts inhibit them.

Women have one through the period higher iron requirement (15 mg daily) than men (10 mg daily). A value of 30 mg applies to pregnant women and 20 mg per day for breastfeeding women. Severe iron deficiency leads to Anemia (Anemia). The harbingers are often headaches, fatigue and exhaustion. An iron deficiency can be treated well with a blood count test by the doctor and the appropriately dosed iron supplement.

In order to prevent exhaustion or even anemia as a vegetarian or vegan, you should rely on these foods:

FoodIron content (mg / 100 g
Millet, grain6,9
Oatmeal, whole grain4,5
Spinach (raw)4,1
Salsify (cooked)2,9
Fennel (raw)2,7
Dried fruits
Soy meat11,0
Lentils (dried)8,0
Chickpeas (dried)6,1
Nuts and oil seeds
Pumpkin seeds12,5
Sesame seeds, tahini10,0

On the next page you will find an overview of the different types of vegetarianism.

We introduce you:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians
  • Lacto vegetarians
  • Ovo vegetarians
  • Pescetarians
  • vegan
  • Fruitarians
  • Freegans
  • Pudding vegetarians
  • Flexitarians

The differences in the vegetarian way of life

Lacto-ovo vegetarians

The lacto-ovo-vegetarians are the largest group in vegetarianism. They do not eat dead animals, but in turn they do not forego other animal products. A very healthy diet, say experts - provided that the diet is carefully and balanced.

What you don't eat:

  • flesh
  • poultry
  • sea ​​animals

What they eat:

All other animal products

Lacto vegetarians

The diet is similar to that of lacto-ovo vegetarians, but the consumption of eggs is also given up. Your supply of all essential nutrients, vitamins and proteins is thus assured.

What you don't eat:

  • flesh
  • poultry
  • sea ​​animals
  • Eggs

What they eat:

  • Milk, cheese and related products

Ovo vegetarians

Ovo comes from Latin and means "egg". As the name suggests, eggs are eaten. Meat and any dairy products are not part of the ovo-vegetal diet. Most ovo vegetarians pay attention to organic quality when purchasing eggs and only buy eggs from free-range chickens. This type of diet is healthy, but you should still get enough vitamin B12 and calcium.

What you don't eat:

  • flesh
  • poultry
  • sea ​​animals
  • Whey products

What they eat:


This group, also known as pesco vegetarians, has cut meat from their menu, but eats fish, whey products and eggs.

What you don't eat:

What they eat:

Pudding vegetarians

They may not eat meat, but they are not very strict about their diet. Often, finished products or sweets are used, fruits and vegetables rarely. Young people in particular cling to this form of vegetarianism. Such a diet is just as healthy or unhealthy as that of meat eaters who eat fast food.

What you don't eat:

What they eat:


These "occasional vegetarians" value a healthy diet and generally eat little meat. If it does, pay attention to high quality meat without factory farming and prepare it carefully.


This group even goes a step further: they only eat non-animal products that cost nothing. Instead of going to the supermarket, freegans rummage in its garbage cans or go into the forest to pick mushrooms - not to save money, but to protest against the throwaway society and mass consumption.

What you don't eat:

What they eat:

  • All vegetarian and vegan products


The strict vegetarians do not eat any animal products at all. That means no milk and no eggs, but also no honey or gummy bears with gelatine. Because they reject the exploitation of animals in any form, many vegans also do not wear wool clothes or leather shoes. The worldview that is often associated with this is on the advance: it is estimated that one in ten of the six million vegetarians in Germany is vegan. It is important to have your doctor check your vitamin B12 levels every year, and possibly take an appropriate dietary supplement.

What you don't eat:

What they eat:

  • Vegan and vegetarian products


The "extremists" among the vegans only eat vegetable products, the harvest of which does not damage the parent plant. In plain language this means: primarily fruit and nuts, i.e. only the fruits of plants. They disdain grain (is mowed!). Many fruitarians believe that humans are biologically fruit-eater. Nutrition experts warn, however, that frutarianism does not provide the body with all the nutrients it needs.

What you don't eat:

  • All animal products and all mass-produced products that destroy plants (including grain, fruits, vegetables, etc.)

What they eat:

  • Fruits and nuts, so only the fruits of plants.