Many people have a certain idea about what it means to be “vegetarian.” The term conjures up mental images of anything from people who eat nothing but salad to individuals bursting with health. While the mental images that the term “vegetarian” conveys are often inaccurate, the fact that vegetarianism varies is quite true. There are various types of vegetarian diets, and various crossovers between them. Here are some of the main types, and what they mean.
If you are familiar with the Zodiac sign for Pisces, you may already know where this is headed. A Pescetarian is a vegetarian who eats the flesh of fish, but no land-dwelling animals. A Pescetarian may eat seafood like scallops and shrimp as well.
Ovo-Lacto (sometimes spelled Ova-Lacto)
An Ovo-Lacto vegetarian eats no animal flesh, but does eat animal products in the form of eggs and dairy. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians may eat yogurt, cheese, eggs, and drink cow's milk. This is probably the most common type of vegetarian. Within this category are Ovo vegetarians, who eat eggs but shun dairy products, and Lacto vegetarians, who refrain from eating eggs but eat dairy.
A lot of confusion can arise over this type of vegetarian diet. The term “vegan” and “vegetarian” are not synonymous, but they are related. A Vegan is a type of vegetarian, but, with the possible exception of the raw vegetarian discussed below, the Vegan differs from all the other types of vegetarians listed here.
This is because Vegans do not eat or consume any animal product, period. They also tend not to use animal products in their lifestyles, either, such as wearing leather or suede. Vegans do not eat honey, as it is produced by an animal (bees). They do not, as a rule, eat white sugar, as charred animal bones are used in the sugar refining process. Vegans eat raw and/or cooked food.
Raw vegetarians eat only raw foods. No grains, pastas, or beans are consumed by raw vegetarians, making this perhaps the most restrictive of vegetarian diets.
Many people who are beginning on the vegetarian journey adopt the “flexitarian” type of vegetarian diet. Others adopt this type of vegetarian diet and stick with it for years because it fits their lifestyle.
A flexitarian will sometimes eat meat, but perhaps only certain types (free range or wild caught, maybe), and only sometimes. A flexitarian may be vegetarian every day of the week except Saturday, when he or she spends the evening with omnivorous friends or family.