Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to the vegetarian diet in seven categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) When we combined the ratings, the vegetarian diet landed in the middle of the pack, winning points from the experts because it’s relatively good for heart health and for managing or preventing diabetes, but hurt somewhat by their collective opinion that it's not the easiest diet to follow and is only moderately effective for short-term weight loss. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
Although vegetarianism is not a weight-loss diet per se, experts saw some potential in the vegetarian approach’s ability to help dieters drop some pounds short-term. It’ll take careful planning and a focus on mostly healthful foods, experts noted, handing out mostly 2s and 3s.
Long-Term Weight Loss
Experts consider the vegetarian diet “moderately effective” in delivering long-term weight loss, with most rating it a 2 or 3 in this category. Its score of just under 3 stars was a bit better than average.
Easy to Follow
The vegetarian diet received its lowest score, just over 2½ stars, in this category. Many experts thought it’d be difficult for dieters to transition to and stick with a meat-free menu, and a number of other diets are easier to follow than this one. “Not a practical diet for most Americans,” one expert noted.
Experts find the nutritional profile for the vegetarian diet, when it’s done right, is mostly in line with the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines. With a score approaching 4, it outperformed many other diets.
There’s not much to be concerned about here, according to experts. Earning more than 4 stars, the vegetarian diet is “very” to “extremely” safe.
Experts’ scores on the vegetarian diet's ability to prevent or control diabetes ranged from 2 to 5, generating a nearly 3½-star average. That’s not bad when compared to how other diets performed on this measure.
For Heart Health
Experts’ average rating of 3½ stars makes the vegetarian diet a good, but not great, diet for preventing cardiovascular disease and promoting heart health. A couple of other diets scored in the high 4s, but many fared much worse than vegetarianism.
Last updated by Kurtis Hiatt | January 02, 2013
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