Being a Vegetarian, different types of Vegetarians. There are so many levels of vegetarianism. Check out the basics!
People choose to assume a Vegetarian lifestyle for many reasons. Some of these reasons are moral, while others may be based in religious beliefs, or even for better health.
Whatever the reasons, becoming a Vegetarian isn’t difficult, but you do need to make some educated decisions on how to proceed with your diet.
In general, a Vegetarian doesn’t eat meat. They eliminate beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood from their diet, while providing plant based foods to replace these during meals. There are different types of Vegetarians, though, and some may include foods that others choose to eliminate.
Here’s a breakdown of the various types of Vegetarians –
Vegetarian, also Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian – This is the type of Vegetarianism most people practice. They don’t eat meat, but do include dairy and eggs. Although this diet is healthier than a meat-based diet, the Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian need to keep an eye on the amount of cholesterol they consume. Dairy and eggs contain a significant amount of cholesterol. The easiest way to avoid too much cholesterol is to eat plant-based sources of protein.
Lacto-Vegetarian – same as above, but does not eat eggs. The same warning for cholesterol applies.
Ovo-Vegetarian – Same as above, but does not consume dairy products. Again, watch your cholesterol intake.
There is some argument as to whether the next three types are Vegetarians at all, but they are trying to eat a plant based diet, and it’s still healthier than a meat based diet. These versions have been included to show the range of choice available. They may also include eggs and dairy, or they may exclude them.
The Flexitarian – This is a ‘I’m a Vegetarian most of the time, but I still eat meat occasionally’ diet. They follow the principles of Vegetarianism, but eat meat when they want to. Still better than a meat based diet, but non-committal.
Pesco-Vegetarian – This type of Vegetarian, also known as a Pescatarian, eats fish as part of their diet. This is still a healthier option than a red meat based diet, but isn’t without its own risks. Seafood contains many harmful pollutants and chemicals which have been ingested by the fish, and can cause mercury poisoning, as well as other illnesses.
Pollo-Vegetarian – In this variation, chicken is part of the meal plan, but no red meat or seafood.
The next group of Vegetarian choices are based on a Vegan Lifestyle. Whereas Vegetarianism in general is considered a nutrition or diet choice, Veganism is more of a lifestyle choice.
Vegans tend to make this choice for moral reasons, mostly based on the ethical treatment of animals used to provide food. They feel that even animals that aren’t killed to provide food are not necessarily treated humanely, and this trickles down to insects.
Generally, Whole Food Vegans do not consume any type of meat or seafood. They also do not consume dairy products or eggs, and avoid honey and beeswax products. They only eat plant-based foods. And yes, you can get your nutrition from this type of diet.
Vegans often don’t wear leather, silk or wool, as they are products derived from animals. The biggest issue with a Vegan diet is the ‘hidden’ animal products, like gelatin, that are used in foods, and will require some label-reading, especially in the beginning.
There are also variations within the Vegan Lifestyle. Here are some of the choices:
Beegan – Although Vegans feel that taking honey from bees may harm them, Beegans don’t feel this way. They eat the same plant-based diet, plus honey.
Raw Food Vegan – Raw Food Vegans don’t heat any foods above 116 degrees F, as they feel that higher temperatures destroy the nutritional value.
Macro-Biotic – This diet is based in Japanese diet and nutrition, as well as some religious beliefs included. It gained popularity in the 1960’s and has its own nutritional food pyramid. It avoids any processed foods, meats, etc., as well as heavily spiced foods and alcohol. Macro-biotic diets are popular among many celebrities.
Junk Food Vegan – This diet consists of anything that doesn’t contain meat, eggs, or dairy. Believe it or not, many junk foods don’t contain any of these ingredients, like Oreos and potato chips. As with all things, moderation is the key, and you still need to consume a well- balanced diet to maintain good health.
When deciding to eat healthier, you may want to start with a diet like the Common Vegetarian, and work your way to a Vegan Diet. The choice is up to you, but in any case, your lifestyle will be enhanced with better nutritional choices.
Let’s talk! Are you a vegetarian? Where do you fall in all the levels of vegetarianism? How long have you been a vegetarian?