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The Different Types of Vegetarians


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Vegetarianism doesn’t always mean no meat, no poultry, no dairy, no fish, and no seafood; there are different types of vegetarians and each type has different food restrictions. There can be confusion regarding vegetarianism, the lifestyle a vegetarian lives and the diet they follow. Some people may wonder what vegetarians eat, what they do not eat, and how they stay healthy and survive without the proteins and nutrients from meat and other animal products. Since there is more than one type of vegetarian there is no clear answer for the questions of what they eat, what they avoid and how they stay healthy; because each type of vegetarian follows different guidelines in their life which gives them different choices of items to consume. Some types of vegetarians eat meat and animal by-products; others may avoid meat but consume some animal by-products, while others may be more restrictive in their diet and avoid any types of meat and animal by-products. Regardless of the type of vegetarian an individual is every type follows the same main diet which focuses on large amounts of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, healthy and whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Vegetarians fill their diets with protein packed grains such as quinoa, couscous, bulgur wheat, barley, and brown rice; they also ensure that they receive large amounts of proteins by eating large servings of legumes such as beans, lentils, and chick peas, to substitute for missing the proteins for restricted or limited food groups. Many of these protein rich foods can be combined with other ingredients to make healthy foods fill with important nutrients, vitamins and proteins these individuals need to be healthy. Although the main focus of a vegetarian diet is plant-based the restrictions on the diet are based on the type of vegetarian an individual chooses to be, and the lifestyle they live.
The term vegetarian is often used to describe individuals who avoid all types of meat. However there have been people claiming to be vegetarians even though they are known to consume limited amounts of meat and animal by-products. There are four different types of these meat eating vegetarians they are known as Flexitarians/Semi-vegetarians, Pesco-Pollo vegetarians, Pesco vegetarians, and Pollo vegetarians. Along with a main vegetarian diet all of these types of vegetarians also consume dairy, eggs, and animal by-products such as honey. A Flexitarian is able to consume all types of red meat, pork, poultry, fish and seafood, although they do not have restrictions on what the consume Flexitarians use their own judgment to limit the quantities of meat they consume. The limitations on the diet depend on each individual and their specialized diet plan. Some Flexitarians may consume more meat than others based on their nutritional needs or their beliefs on how much they should eat. Flexitarians only consume meat that has a well-known reputation of treating animals in an ethical and cruel free manner. “Flexitarians do try to make sure their occasional pound of flesh is ethically sourced and environmentally friendly” (Havala Hobbs, 2001) The Pesco-Pollo vegetarian avoids pork and other red meats but does consume poultry, fish, and seafood in their diet. Some individuals may choose to only consume one of these options in their diet. If a person chooses to only eat a vegetarian diet and poultry they are known as Pollo vegetarians, if they choose to only eat a vegetarian diet with fish and seafood they are known as Pesco vegetarians. The individuals that consume meat in their diet eat an amount that they believe gives them enough nutrients and proteins without having to find extra substitutions to fulfill their nutritional needs. Although these diets are considered to be vegetarian, it is a controversial topic. “These terms stretch the true definition of a vegetarian, and only the term semi-vegetarian is actually used with much frequency.” (Havala Hobbs, 2001) Vegetarians that choose not to eat meat claim that these types of vegetarians that consume meat should not be considered vegetarians just because they are limiting and restricting certain items from their diet. However the meat eating vegetarians claim because a large portion of their main diet is vegetarian and they consume limited portions of meat they count as vegetarians even though they do consume small amounts of meat.
The most popular type of vegetarians in North America is known to consume dairy and some animal by-products such as honey and eggs; they are known as Lacto vegetarians and Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians. Lacto vegetarians consume dairy products and some animal products such as honey but do not consume eggs, or any type of meat. Lacto vegetarians can use substitutions for eggs such as bananas and flax eggs (flaxseed mill mixed with water) for baking, or tofu and store bought egg replacements to make scrambled eggs. The Lacto-Ovo vegetarian consumes dairy products, some animal by-products like honey and eggs. Both of these types of vegetarians eat a diet highly focused on plant-based sources; they also use these sources to create fake meats which are high in proteins. These fake meats include tofu a protein source made from coagulated soy milk, tempeh a protein source made from fermented soy beans, quorn a protein source made from fungi, and seitan a protein source made from wheat gluten. These plant-based meats provide individuals with the same amount of proteins as a serving of meat would, however these fake meats do not provide many of the nutrients and vitamins needed to support a healthy diet. In order to obtain vitamins and nutrients which could be missing in their diet these vegetarians turn to other plant-based sources. These items include flaxseed mill which provides omega-3 and iron, wheat germ which provides vitamin e, folic acids, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc, nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast are very similar and provide essential amino acids and are fortified with b-vitamins. All of these items can be used as ingredients in recipes and using these items on a regular basis is a good way for individuals to get the vitamins and nutrients need without having to take dietary supplements.
Vegetarians that follow the strictest diet and have more restrictions on their lifestyle are known as Vegans. Vegans do not consume any type of meat or animal by-products; this includes diary, eggs and honey. It is also believed that items that use animal products like clothing made from wool, leather and fur; or products that have been created by testing on animals encourage animal cruelty and using them supports cruel treatment of animals so they are avoided. The diet of a Vegan is much like the diet of a Lacto vegetarian, they consume a diet with a main focus of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, healthy and whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. Since they do not eat eggs they use substitutions for them such as bananas, flaxseed and water, tofu, or store bought egg replacements. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are used as fake meats to provide protein, quorn currently cannot be consumed in the vegan diet because it uses eggs in the ingredients during the cooking process. Vegans also use flaxseed mill, wheat germ, nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast to provide them with nutrients and vitamins that could be missing from their diets. Since dairy products are not allowed in the vegan diet they substitute their dairy needs with plant-based options such as milk made from soy, coconuts, rice, almond and others nuts, yogurt made from soy, non-dairy cheeses made from soy and rice, and butter spreads made from healthy oils. Many of these dairy substitutions provide the required nutrients and vitamins to an individual as real dairy products would.
Vegetarianism isn’t just a lifestyle about avoiding meat and animal products, it’s also about choices. The diet restrictions that individuals face depends on which lifestyle they want to live and what they want to eat and avoid. An individual can choose how flexible they want their diet to be; they can simply have limitations on just a few items they can’t eat and the amount of foods they can, they can eliminate just a larger number of foods and items from their diet, or they can eliminate complete food groups and restrict the use of other items. Even without eating meat or animal products vegetarians have found a way to enjoy a balanced and healthy diet that provides them with plenty of proteins, vitamins and nutrients. Whether the choice to become a vegetarian is for reasons based on religious, health, environmental, or all; choosing to be a vegetarian doesn’t force you into a life of avoiding all meat and animal products. Vegetarianism allows you to have options that fit your lifestyle so you are happy and stay healthy.

Types of vegetarians and wannabes. (2005, Mar 16). Toronto Star. Retrieved from
Types of vegetarians. (2008, Feb 26). The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved from
Taylor, T. (2012, Sep 05). Types of vegetarians. The Post and Courier. Retrieved from
VEGETARIANS ALL. (2011, Aug 24). St.Petersburg Times. Retrieved from
Being Vegetarian for Dummies by Suzanne Havala, Hobbs MS, RD. Cleveland, OH: IDG Books Worldwide, 2001
The vegetarian resource group

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