Group: Vegetarian diets are good for you

Properly planned vegetarian diets are healthful for people of all ages, may prevent disease, and are good for the environment, according to studies cited by a major group of food and nutrition experts.

An updated position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says studies show vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity and chronic diseases.

The paper, which appears in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, also states that the diets are better for the environment because fewer resources are needed to produce a pound of kidney beans than a pound of beef. The academy included the environmental aspect in the report because of growing evidence vegetarian diets do less harm to the planet.

"These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes," the academy states in the paper. "Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage."