by Antonella Riva, Italian Nutritionist & Guest Blogger

The Vegetarian diet is made up of foods that come mostly from plants, with or without use of dairy products and eggs.

Reasons for following a Vegetarian diet are varied. 

Compassion for animals is one of main reasons. It is also a sustainable choice: livestock farming is responsible for almost 20% of all greenhouse gas emission from human related activities. 

In addition, a balanced vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest diets around. Vegetarians reduce risks of obesity, cancer, high blood pressure a coronary heart disease. 

How can you build a balanced vegetarian meal?

Variety of foods is the key to make a healthy plate, like any diet. You should eat right portions from each food group such as grains, fruit and vegetable of different colors, nuts, seeds and adequate protein amount that can come from soy products and other vegan options.

The Vegetarian diet could be a good option to improve your health and fitness. It contains plenty of fiber, antioxidants and less saturated fatty acids and cholesterol than the typical American diet. You should however, pay attention to include a correct quantity of some nutrients that the vegetarian diet can be low in like calcium, Vitamin D and vitamin B12. Look for these nutrients in fortified products or consider a supplemental form. Diets that do not include fish and egg are generally low in omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds, rapeseeds, hempseed and walnuts are good sources of these fatty acids.