Plant Based Diets

Which One Are You?

Thinking of going plant based? Plant-based diets come in various forms, categorized by the degree of animal product inclusion. Here’s an overview of popular plant-based diets according to Penn State Extension:

  1. Semi-Vegetarian or Flexitarian: Mostly plant-based with limited amounts of meat,
    poultry, fish, and seafood. May include eggs and dairy.
  2. Pescatarian: Mostly plant-based with the inclusion of fish and shellfish.
  3. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Includes eggs and dairy while excluding meat, poultry, and fish.
  4. Vegan: Entirely plant-based, avoiding all animal-derived products. *Vitamin B-12
    supplementation is essential.
  5. Whole-Food, Plant-Based: Excludes all animal products and focuses on minimally
    processed plant-based foods, avoiding refined items.
Numerous other plant-based diets are available, catering to individual preferences. Plant-based eating can be tailored to suit anyone’s needs, allowing choices in inclusions and exclusions.

Health Benefits of Plant-Based Eating

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts that meticulously planned plant-based diets are both nutritious and beneficial in averting and managing specific chronic illnesses (Melina et al. 2016). These conditions encompass cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, prediabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, and obesity. Multiple studies indicate that adopting a plant-based dietary pattern is linked to a lower body mass index. Vegetarian diets contribute to bone health due to their high intake of vegetables and fruits, providing ample magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Strategic planning is essential for robust bone health, ensuring sufficient calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and protein intake.

Plant Based Protein Sources

Since vegetarian diets exclude animal products, which are typically very high in protein, these individuals must be sure they are consuming adequate amounts of protein from plant based sources. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, top sources of plant based protein sources include:

  • Quinoa (8 grams of protein)
  •  Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame (10g)
  • Lentils (9g)
  • Beans (8g)
  • Nuts and their spreads (like nut butters) (6-8g)
  • Seeds (5g)
  • Seitan (16g)
  • Hummus (8g)

In conclusion, eliminating animal sources of protein comes at slightly more labor intensive cost, but a whole lot of benefits.


Denmon, Amber and James, Lynn. “Plant-Based Diet”. Penn State Extension, September 1, 2021.   <>.

Melina, V., C. Winston, and S. Levin. 2016. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 116 (12): 1970–80. doi:10.1016/j. jand.2016.09.025.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2020. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025. 9th ed. Available at