Whether you don’t eat meat based on moral or religious grounds, or simply abstain as a means to live a healthier, cleaner lifestyle, following a vegetarian or vegan diet is becoming more en vogue with each passing year. However, there’s not just “one way” to be a vegetarian. In fact, there are up to seven different kinds of vegetarians out there, from those who simply don’t eat meat to those who avoid all animal-based products.
Do you know all the different kinds plant-based diets and their reasons? Here are the seven basic kinds of plant-based eaters and their reasoning.
Semi-Vegetarian Or Flexitarian
Flexitarians are, as the word suggests, rather flexible in their approach towards vegetarianism. Flexitarians are the kinds of vegetarians who mostly consume plant-based foods, but will eat meat occasionally. For some flexitarians, this means on special occasions or holidays; for others, it’s a meat-cheat meal once a week. Flexitarians may choose to be mostly vegetarian based on ethical, health or environmental grounds, but are the most versatile of all vegetarians, as they’ll still eat meat from time to time, but every flexitarian is different. Some might eat meat once a week, others once a year.
Pescetarians are a kind of vegetarians who abstain from all meat and flesh, with the exception of fish. Pescetarians typically eat other animal-based foods, such as eggs and dairy. It can be viewed as a stepping stone towards vegetarianism, as you cut out everything meat-related from your diet, except fish and seafood. Many vegetarians begin as pescetarians and move on to other forms of vegetarianism, though some remain pescetarian their whole lives.
This kind of vegetarian is characterized by a staunch approach towards vegetarianism. These individuals do not consume any forms of flesh, nor beef, poultry, shellfish, fish, pork, but do tend to consume dairy products and eggs. However, within this category lie the lacto-vegetarians and the ovo-vegetarians as well. Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products, but no eggs, and ovo-vegetarians consume eggs, but do not eat dairy products or meat. Some ovo-vegetarians or lacto-vegetarians are “ethically vegan,” meaning they’ll only consume eggs or milk from local, organic, or free-range farms where the animals are treated humanely.
A macrobiotic vegetarian does not consume meat, eggs or dairy products, but sometimes eats seafood, which is why this diet is not considered a fully vegan diet. Basically, the macrobiotic diet focuses on eating local and seasonal foods that balance each other in harmonic ways. It focuses on unprocessed vegan foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and the occasional fish, too. In a macrobiotic diet, refined oils and sugars are mostly avoided, and more of an Asian consumption of vegetables is promoted, which includes seaweed and other sea vegetables.
When we think about vegetarians, the image that we often think of us is that of vegans. Vegans are a strict type of vegetarian that do not consume any animal products whatsoever. They refrain from eating meat, eggs, dairy and seafood, as well as processed foods that include any of the stated as ingredients or other ingredients derived from animals, such as fats, gelatin or honey. Vegans even refrain from consuming those products that may be made using animals, even if they do not contain the animals in the finished form, for example wines and sugars.
Raw vegans are a type of vegetarians who consume a raw vegan diet. It excludes all food and products of animal origin, as well as food cooked at a temperature above 48 °C (118 °F). A raw vegan diet includes raw vegetables and fruits, nuts and nut pastes, grain and legume sprouts, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, and fresh juices. People go for this diet is primarily because they believe food that is cooked or heated above the said temperature tends to lose its nutritional value and is not as healthy, though there’s little scientific evidence to back up this claim.
The fruitarian diet is one of the most restrictive. It consists entirely or primarily of fruits in the botanical sense (this includes all sweet fruits and seeded fruits (such as avocado, tomato, cucumber, and olives), as well as possibly nuts and seeds, without animal products whatsoever. The risk of malnourishment is high, so a strictly fruitarian diet is generally not recommended by nutritionists.
Becoming vegetarian or vegan is a strictly personal choice. While it may not necessarily be healthier to abstain from meat and meat products, being more aware of what you eat and focusing on clean, nutritious ingredients is always the first step towards leading a healthy, balanced life.
Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.