Are you curious about exactly what is a vegetarian? This post clarifies the definition, different types, as well as what makes vegetarians different from vegans, pescatarians, flexitarians, and those following a plant-based diet.
Let me just clarify right now – I hate labels. I don’t believe we need to label the way we eat or even commit to any one strict diet in order to be happy, healthy, or good citizens. We also can’t judge others for their dietary choices. There are a great number of factors that go into what you decide to put in your body, and it is not for anyone else to say what is best for you.
All that being said, I wanted to get down to basics a little bit, and I felt like an introduction to what it means to be vegetarian would help clarify a few posts I have coming down the line. If you’d like to be notified when these new posts go live, be sure to sign up for my email list where you’ll also receive a list of one hundred vegetarian dinner ideas!
What is a vegetarian?
A vegetarian is a person who does not eat meat for moral, religious, or health reasons. There are many different types of vegetarians: lacto ovo vegetarians, lacto vegetarians, and ovo vegetarians.
The three types of vegetarians
- Lacto Ovo Vegetarians eat both dairy and eggs
- Lacto Vegetarians eat dairy but avoid eggs
- Ovo Vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy
What can you eat on a vegetarian diet?
Vegetarians can eat any food that does not contain meat or meat by-products. It is up to you if you want to include eggs and dairy in your diet. I’ll be sharing a post in the coming weeks about a few surprising foods that are NOT vegetarian.
A few of my favorite vegetarian recipes:
- Crispy Quinoa Bake
- Sweet Potato Tacos
- Easy Vegetarian Chili
- Roasted Sweet Potato Bulgur Bowl
- Rainbow Feta Flatbread
What is the difference between vegetarian and vegan?
Vegan is a more encompassing term that covers a lifestyle. Vegans don’t consume or use any products that were derived from animals. This includes things like dairy, eggs, honey, and leather. You can visit this post to learn more about what it means to be vegan.
Here are a few of my favorite vegan recipes:
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Spinach and White Beans
- The Best Crispy Tofu
- Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Easy Canned Butter Beans
- Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
You can also check out my post on the best vegan cookbooks for more recipes.
What is a pescatarian?
A pescatarian is someone who has eliminated meat from their diet with the exception of fish or shellfish. Again, this may be for health, ethical, or religious reasons. You can visit this post to find out more about pescatarians and what they eat.
Here are a couple of my favorite pescatarian recipes:
What is a flexitarian?
A flexitarian is not technically a vegetarian at all, but rather a person who eats vegetarian most of the time but consumes meat products occasionally. You can visit this post to find out more about the flexitarian diet.
Here are a few of my most popular flexitarian recipes from when I used to cook with meat:
What a plant-based diet?
Plant based diets focus on eliminating animal products while increasing the amount of whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains that are consumed. This is different from vegan because it does not encompass the lifestyle of avoiding any product made with animal products (such as a wool sweater) and generally avoids vegan junk food such as Oreos.
Hopefully this helps clarify the many different diet choices there are for those who choose to not eat meat. If this feels overwhelming to you, just take a step back and listen to your heart and your body.
Only you know what is best for you, and you can feel good about the choices you make for yourself without worrying about the choices that others make. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions, I’ll have more informational posts like this coming in the next few weeks!