Vegetarianism and veganism: not only benefits but also gaps. A review

Alessandra Petti, Beniamino Palmieri, Maria Vadalà, Carmen Laurino


Background and aim of the work. The main Food Choice Motives (FCMs) of vegetarianism and veganism are supported by ethical, health, ecological and pleasure motivations, but also family and cultural traditions play a definite role. A better health achievement is usually the first goal of turning vegetarians, on the reports that ischemic heart, circulatory and cerebrovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and some cancer were significantly lower in vegetarians and vegans than in omnivores. In this review, we investigate the main reasons that lead to the choice of an increasingly common lifestyle, such as vegetarianism and veganism and the pros & cons of this choice. Methods. We reviewed studies focused on vegetarian and vegan diets, and included articles published between 1975 and 2015. We searched Pubmed/Medline using the terms “vegetarianism”, “veganism”, “benefits” and “diseases”, alone or combined. This review aims at describing vegetarian and vegan diets, discussing current knowledge about motivations for pursuing this diet, clinical benefits and limitations. Results. Vegetarian and vegan diets are low in n-3 PUFA, proteins, calcium, zinc, iron, vitamins B12 and D. Conclusions. Different guidelines for vegetarian and especially vegan diets have been settled based on the need to fortify foods with molecules that are reduced or missing in these diets.


vegetarian; vegan; benefits; diseases

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DOI: 10.23751/pn.v19i3.5229

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ISSN: 1129-8723