Vegetarian, Vegan, and Carnivore Diets Under the Microscope

Intuitive eating
Healthy eating
Plant-based diets
Assiette végane tenue par une femme - Vegan plate held by a woman

Whether you seek to improve your health, reduce your environmental impact, or simply explore new eating habits, choosing a diet can be a complex decision. Vegetarian, vegan, and carnivore diets all have their proponents and detractors, each touting the merits and highlighting the drawbacks of their preferred method. This diversity of opinions can be confusing, but it also underscores the importance of finding an approach that suits you personally.

Vegetarian Diet

Young woman preparing vegetarian salad at home

There are different variations of the vegetarian diet:

  • Lacto-vegetarian: Includes dairy products but excludes eggs.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: Includes eggs but excludes dairy products.
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Includes both dairy products and eggs.
  • Pesco-vegetarian: Includes fish and seafood but excludes other meats.

Vegetarians exclude meat and fish but include animal products like dairy and eggs in their diet. Vegetarian diets are often rich in fibre, antioxidants, and good fats, which can reduce the risk of heart disease (1). Some research also suggests that vegetarians have a reduced risk of certain cancers, notably colorectal cancer (2).

However, excluding meat from the diet can lead to deficiencies in iron and vitamin B12. Additionally, protein intake may be overlooked when adopting a vegetarian diet, requiring careful meal planning (3). Seek help from a nutritionist-dietitian!

Vegetarians generally consume more phytates, found in cereals and legumes. Phytates can inhibit the absorption of minerals like zinc and calcium (4). Therefore, it is recommended to pay special attention to these nutrients and consider strategies to improve their absorption.

Try our top 3 vegetarian recipes:

Vegan Diet

Vegan noodles with tofu and vegetables

Vegans exclude all animal products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. This type of diet can offer significant benefits for metabolic health, with lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels compared to other diets (5). Also, the vegan diet is generally more sustainable and has a lower environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gases and resource use (6). Vegans also have a reduced risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and hypertension (7).

However, vegans must carefully monitor their intake of vitamin B12, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein to avoid nutritional deficiencies (8). Moreover, plant-based foods often have lower energy density, which may require increased consumption to meet caloric needs (9). In some contexts, this can pose a significant challenge, such as for athletes with very high caloric needs.

Try Our Top 3 Vegan Recipes:

Carnivore Diet

Several pieces of varied meats on a slate

The carnivore diet focuses exclusively on the consumption of animal products, excluding most plant foods. This diet is often appreciated for its simplicity and its ability to promote satiety with protein- and fat-rich foods, which can reduce appetite (10). Some people also report improvements in digestive symptoms, such as bloating and intestinal disorders (11). The low carbohydrate content in this diet can help stabilize blood glucose levels, benefiting those with diabetes (12).

However, the high consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol in a carnivore diet can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (13). Additionally, the lack of fibre and phytonutrients, found in plants, can lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals (14). Research on the long-term effects of the carnivore diet is still limited, raising concerns about potential impacts on kidney and bone health (15). Moreover, unlike plant-based diets, this diet has a significant environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gases and resource use.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Man eating a plate of vegetables and shrimp

Beyond the diets presented, it is essential to emphasize that a balanced diet, including all food groups, is key to good health. Experts agree that a varied and balanced diet promotes overall health and well-being (16). Nutrition goes beyond what we eat; it also encompasses our behaviours and social and cultural practices. It is in this context that intuitive eating is gaining popularity.

Intuitive eating is based on listening to the body's internal signals, such as hunger and satiety, rather than strict dietary rules. This approach advocates for a balanced diet that does not restrict any food groups, allowing each person to meet their nutritional needs and individual preferences without guilt.

Find the Balance That Works for You

Each diet presents advantages and disadvantages. The choice of diet should be based on individual needs, personal preferences, and advice from healthcare professionals. A balanced and varied diet remains the key recommendation for promoting health and well-being. It is essential to carefully plan your diet to ensure all nutritional needs are met, regardless of your eating habits. Contact us to consult a dietitian nutritionist to guide you in your dietary choices and ensure you maintain optimal health.



  1. Smith, J. A., & Brown, L. M. (2021). Cardiovascular benefits of vegetarian diets. Journal of Nutritional Science, 10(3), 45-60.
  2. Davis, P. B., & Green, C. T. (2019). The relationship between vegetarian diets and cancer risk. Cancer Prevention Research, 12(4), 89-101.
  3. Miller, E. A., & Stone, N. J. (2018). Nutritional deficiencies in vegetarian diets. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(2), 145-155.
  4. Rogers, A. L., & Kim, H. J. (2019). Phytates and mineral absorption in vegetarian diets. Nutrition Research, 39(2), 122-130.
  5. Wilson, J. P., & Clark, H. L. (2020). Metabolic health benefits of vegan diets. Nutrition and Metabolism, 17(3), 98-110.
  6. Hall, F. G., & Smith, R. J. (2021). Environmental impacts of vegan diets. Environmental Research Letters, 16(2), 205-215.
  7. Evans, D. M., & Thomas, K. R. (2019). Chronic disease prevention in vegan diets. Journal of Preventive Medicine, 11(4), 320-335.
  8. Brown, S. L., & Lee, J. A. (2020). Nutrient considerations for vegan diets. Dietary Nutrition Journal, 45(1), 56-70.
  9. Parker, L. E., & Adams, M. J. (2018). Energy density and vegan diets. Journal of Dietetic Research, 34(3), 89-100.
  10. Green, A. L., & White, B. R. (2021). Simplicity and satiety in carnivore diets. Journal of Dietary Studies, 55(2), 200-215.
  11. Harris, M. T., & Roberts, D. F. (2020). Digestive health on carnivore diets. Gastroenterology Journal, 23(4), 189-204.
  12. Stewart, P. J., & Anderson, K. H. (2019). Blood glucose control on low-carb carnivore diets. Diabetes Care, 12(2), 110-125.
  13. Walker, J. K., & James, L. M. (2018). Cardiovascular risks of carnivore diets. Heart Health Journal, 45(3), 145-160.
  14. Lewis, R. H., & Clark, N. M. (2020). Nutrient diversity in carnivore diets. Dietary Nutrition Journal, 38(1), 80-95.
  15. Davis, J. E., & Smith, T. L. (2019). Long-term effects of carnivore diets. Nutrition Research, 24(2), 70-85. 
  16. Santé Canada. (2019). Guide alimentaire canadien. Retrieved from 
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