To Meat or Not To Meat: A Vegetarian Diet? That is The Question

 Eat-Vegetarian“…I’m a level 5 vegan, I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow.”
   -Matt Groening, The Simpsons

While the jokes are of plenty, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases; that’s no laughing matter. According to the American Cancer Society, studies that look at people and their habits have linked vegetarian diets with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and colon cancer.

Still, many people are confused about what exactly is a vegetarian or how vegetarians differ from vegans and some other diets that may be rich in fruits and vegetables. Below are descriptions of seven types of diets that are commonly confused.

7 COMMONLY CONFUSED DIETS: 

Vegetarian and variant(s) lacto-/ovo-vegetarian

When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products.

  • Excludes meat (including game and slaughter by-products , fish, shellfish and poultry)
  • No gelatin or other animal by-products

Lacto-vegetarian: consumes dairy products
Ovo-vegetarian: consumes eggs

Vegan

  • No meat of any kind
  • No eggs, dairy products or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients (i.e. gelatin & animal rennet)
  • No foods made using animal products that may not contain animal products in the finished process (i.e. sugar, honey & some wines)
  • Excludes use of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose

Pescatarian

Many adopt this diet for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet.

  • No meat or animal flesh with the exception of fish (because some people don’t consider aquatic creatures to be animals; you be the judge)

Fruitarian

  • Only consumes fruits and vegetables
  • Diet often includes raw beans, nuts and grains

*It is important to Fruitarians that these items are taken from the plant without killing it.

“Flexitarian”

  • Term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but will occasionally consume meat or meat by-products

Raw Vegan

Raw vegans believe that foods cooked above 115 degrees Fahrenheit lose a significant amount of nutritional value and are harmful to the body.

  • Only consumes unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius)

Macrobiotic

  • Only consumes unprocessed vegan foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • Allows for the occasional consumption of fish
  • Avoids sugar and refined oils

If you or someone you know are interested in becoming a vegetarian, check out these quick tips to help make the transition easier: How to Go Vegetarian or Vegan