Something I’ve been asked more than a few times is “what types of vegetarians are there”? The reasoning behind this question is simple – people see vegetarians eating different things and want to know exactly what vegetarians can and cannot eat.
There are different types of vegetarians, but at the basic root, as defined by The Vegetarian Society:
A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs. A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish*, insects, by-products of slaughter** or any food made with processing aids created from these.
Now TVS defines things like gelatin, isinglass (a gelatin like substance obtained from fish), and animal rennet as by-products of slaughter, meaning that vegetarians are not to consume these things. More on this in a future post.
As for types of vegetarians, there are basically 4 types of vegetarians:
- Ovo-lacto Vegetarians – this is the most common type. Ovo-lacto vegetarians consume dairy and eggs.
- Lacto-Vegetarians – these vegetarians consume dairy, but avoid eggs.
- Ovo-Vegetarians – these vegetarians consume eggs, but avoid dairy.
- Vegans – these vegetarians consume no product that is derived in any way from animals (no eggs, dairy, honey, etc.).
TVS goes on to say that many vegetarians will not consume eggs that are not free-range and that they do not give their seal of approval to any product containing eggs that are not free-range. TVS also says that any product (food or otherwise) that contains ingredients a vegetarian does not eat is not suitable for a vegetarian.
So there you have the definition of a vegetarian and the types of vegetarians.
There are a couple more “types” of “vegetarian” that are not listed here, because they aren’t really vegetarians. However, some people consider pescatarians, those who eat fish/shellfish but no other types of meat, to be a type of vegetarian and others consider themselves “flexitarians” meaning they eat mostly vegetarian diets, but occasionally consume meat. By definition neither of these are actually vegetarians, but you may come across these terms on occasion when researching vegetarianism.
Information source: What Is a Vegetarian?