Ever got confused as to what to serve a lacto ovo-vegetarian or a pescovegetarian at a dinner party you hosted? With all the health trends and life choices coming out, vegans are no longer those who don’t eat any meat at all. There are those who won’t eat chicken but can eat shellfish and other seafood. Then there are those who don’t eat eggs or milk.
Why do people decide to avoid meat in their diets? The answers are varied. It could be moral or ethical reasons wherein vegetarians are simply uncomfortable with the thought that an animal had to suffer and die for them to be able to eat. Others protest against how animals are treated and raised for food. Others avoid meats in their diet for religious reasons. Some religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism encourage their practitioners to avoid eating animal products. Muslims avoid eating pork and all sub products of pork. Others shun meat products simply because they consider it to be healthier, while others are under strict orders.
Technically, the term vegan refers to more than just the diet alone. A vegan is a vegetarian who avoids eating or using all animal products, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, any foods containing by-products of these ingredients, wool, silk, leather, and any nonfood items made with animal byproducts. Some vegans avoid honey. But times have evolved, and different types of vegetarian diets have emerged, depending on the animal product they avoid. Here are some of the varieties of vegetarians, what they eat and the food they avoid:
- A pollotarian consumes poultry and in some cases, fish.
- A pescovegetarian, also called pescatarian, does not eat meat or any product made using any part of any land-animal including poultry and other birds, but consumes dairy products such as milk, cream, cheese, eggs, fish and sea-creatures such as shell-fish e.g. crab, mussels, cockles etc., and crustaceans e.g. prawns and lobsters.
- A pesco pollo vegetarian avoids red meat but eats chicken and fish.
- A lacto vegetarian avoids meat, fish, and poultry, as well as eggs and any foods containing eggs. A lacto vegetarian would, however, eat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- An ovovegetarian, will not eat meat, fish or dairy products such as milk, cream, or cheese.
- A lacto ovo vegetarian will not eat meat, fish, and poultry but can consume dairy products and eggs. Lacto ovo vegetarians eat such foods as cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk, and eggs, as well as foods made with these ingredients. Most vegetarians in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe fall into this category.
- Those in the Raw Food diet eat uncooked food, although some food processing such a blending e.g. to make smoothies is done. Raw food diets are usually followed for health reasons, although sometimes by people who were already vegetarian or vegan for other reasons. The raw food diet can be healthy but requires considerable knowledge and dedication to ensure that dieters get sufficient nutrition. It can also be challenging sometimes as there are limited range of raw food options in many cafes, pubs, restaurants and hotels.
- Fruitarians adhere to the raw food diet where food is not processed but only includes fruits, greens, and some nuts and seeds.
- Organic-only vegetarian or vegan do not consume non-organic vegetables and can be very difficult to follow strictly in some places. They are mostly concerned about chemicals and the possibility of genetically modified organisms in their food.
- Low Fat Vegetarian (could be any type of vegetarian, like lactovegetarian, ovovegetarian or ovolactovegetarian, with the additional constraint that the overall diet consists of less than 10% of its calories i.e. “energy” from fat.
- The macrobiotic diet, revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed.
There are a lot of benefits that can be obtained from switching to a diet that doesn’t contain meat and it’s definitely something worth thinking over. Red meat is high in saturated fat, and vegetarians are not as prone to heart diseases and obesity. Meats contain nothing that can help prevent cancer (all important elements that aid in preventing cancer are absent), and meat, when cooked releases benzene and other carcinogenic elements that aid in cancer-cell growth. Research also shows that meat lovers are more lethargic and fatigued than those that consume less of meat. You cannot fall sick from plant life going bad, but when meats become stale it can prove to be quite injurious to one’s health. Although the benefits the numerous, there are also deficiencies that comes with being a vegetarian. Essential vitamins like b12 is deficient from vegetable and fruit produce, that’s why some vegetarians increase their consumption of substitutes that are high in b12, like grains and legumes.
What may work for some may not work for others, and whatever we believe in, the most important thing is to respect each other.