Vegetarian, vegan and plant-based

What are meat-free foods?

Meat-free foods can be separated into two categories: meat alternatives and meat analogues.

  • Meat alternatives usually consist of rice, oat, grain and vegetable-based products.
  • Meat analogues are generally vegetable-protein-based foods made to resemble and simulate various kinds of meat. They are generally manufactured from myco-protein, soya, pulses or cereals.

What is the difference between a meat-free and vegetarian diet?

A vegetarian diet is based on grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the inclusion of dairy products and eggs. It excludes meat, fish and shellfish.

Vegetarian patterns of eating can vary significantly but the most common is a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet which includes both dairy products and eggs. A lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but avoids eggs.

A vegan diet does not include dairy products, eggs, or any other animal products.

A meat-free diet may include fish and shellfish.

Some people may also follow a semi-vegetarian diet, occasionally consuming meat or fish.

Qualified dieticians can provide specific guidelines for balanced diets to help meet nutrient requirements. If you have any concerns about your diet, contact a health professional for advice.

Why do people choose a meat-free or vegetarian diet?

There are many reasons why people choose a meat-free or vegetarian diet but these may include animal welfare, ethical and environmental issues as well as for cultural and religious reasons. People may also follow a meat-free or vegetarian diet simply because they don't like the taste or texture of meat and fish.

Meat-free and vegetarian foods are also eaten by mainstream consumers, including those who are looking to reduce their consumption of meat (meat-reducers).

Who can I contact for further information?

For general information about following a nutritious vegetarian or vegan diet, you might like to take a look at the following websites:

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