Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Vegetarianism
“ What is a vegetarian? ” Perhaps you found this article through a search like the preceding one. Maybe you are interested in finding out more about the different types of vegetarianism. Or learning more about vegetarianism benefits.
Whatever the reason you’ve found yourself here. We’ve compiled this guide to help you understand a bit more about what a vegetarian is. And what benefits come from choosing a vegetarian diet. We’ll start with a broad definition of vegetarianism and go from there.
What is a Vegetarian?
There are many different types of vegetarians out there. But in all cases, vegetarians are individuals who choose to eat a primarily plant-based diet. Vegetarianism has been around for ages, with many famous people choosing to restrict their diet to one such as this. Some of these people include Confucius, Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, and Henry David Thoreau. As far as more modern celebrities go, people like Natalie Portman, Josh Hartnett, Penelope Cruz, and Christie Brinkley make up the ranks of vegetarians.
Many people interpret vegans, who do not consume or use any products that are animal-based, as the “ultimate” vegetarian. However, others believe that all types of vegetarians are providing a kindness to animals and the environment. By sticking to a diet that contains limited animal products.
It can be confusing to talk about all these different types of vegetarians without understanding the nuances of each description. Because of that, we will break down every kind of vegetarianism and its benefits below.
What is a Vegan?
Vegans are individuals who do not ingest any animal products or by-products. They also will not wear clothing and use items that contain animal products. Many go a step further and additionally do not use items that were tested on animals. As such, a vegan does not consume any type of meat, dairy products, eggs, or other animal ingredients like gelatin, honey, albumin, and rennet. They will also avoid eating any sugars that were processed with animal bone char.
There are many benefits related to a vegan diet. Studies show that vegans save about 185 animals a year due to their diet and lifestyle choices. In addition to that, research shows that vegans are healthier than people who consume animal products. Things like cancer deaths and cardiac failures are extremely low among vegan individuals. Choosing veganism also helps the environment by lessening pollution, reversing land degradation, and saving water.
What is a Lacto Vegetarian?
A lacto vegetarian is someone who does not eat red meat, white meat, poultry, fish, fowl, or eggs – but who does use dairy products. Some of the items allowed in a lacto vegetarian’s diet, but not a vegan’s, would be cheese, yogurt, and cow’s milk. While a lacto vegetarian will consume foods composed of dairy, they will not actually eat meat from any animal, including a cow.
Lacto vegetarians help save many animals from slaughter each year, although less than a vegan. They also acquire the benefits of a meatless diet, such as lower blood pressure and a lower risk of many diseases. That said, they do still consume cholesterol courtesy of the addition of dairy to their diets.
What is an Ovo Vegetarian?
A vegetarian who is ovo will not eat red or white meats, poultry, fish, fowl, or dairy products – but they will consume egg products. As such, they would consume eggs farmed from chickens, but would not eat a chicken itself. This is similar to a lacto vegetarian, except they choose to eat eggs and do not eat dairy.
Because an ovo vegetarian restricts their intake of products from animals, they gain many health advantages. However, they do ingest cholesterol, just like a lacto vegetarian does. They also benefit animals and the environments by eating fewer animal products than the average person.
What is a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian?
A lacto-ovo vegetarian is a combination of the last two types of vegetarians. Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not eat white meat, red meat, fish, fowl, or poultry. But they do consume both eggs and dairy products. So, while a lacto-ovo vegetarian would not consume hamburger or chicken meat, they would consume things like eggs, cheese, yogurt, and so forth. This is the most common type of vegetarian and is traditionally used in the discussion of “what is the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian?”
Lacto-ovo vegetarians will often have better health than meat eaters. But must watch their cholesterol levels as they eat both egg and dairy products. However, this type of vegetarian still leads to a difference in the amount of animals killed for food as they avoid all kinds of meat.
What is a Pollotarian?
There is some argument about whether pollotarians are actually vegetarians. But it’s worth listing them so you can come to your own decision. The pollotarian avoids most animal meats. However, they do consume fowl and poultry. While these vegetarians do not eat fish, seafood, or red meat. Many criticize them for eating chicken and categorizing themselves as a vegetarian, at all.
As far as health benefits go, the pollotarian will see fewer heart issues than someone who eats red meat. They have less risk of getting heart disease, as well. It depends on how much poultry and fowl they eat whether they are saving any animals at all in an average year.
What is a Vegetarian that Eats Fish?
The pescatarian is pretty similar to the pollotarian, but instead of ingesting only poultry and fowl, pescatarians consume no meat other than fish and seafood. This is another type of vegetarian that has led to some debate, as many plant-based eaters believe that individuals who eat fish or shellfish should not be classified as a vegetarian.
Pescatarians have less chance of developing many medical problems, but eating an abundance of fish and seafood can have its own issues, due to pollutants and mercury, as well as supporting the fishing industry, which can be very harmful. However, pescatarians do save other animals from harm, which also leads to environmental changes that are positive.
What is a Flexitarian?
This is a new term, and it refers to a person who generally eats a plant-based diet but may occasionally allow themselves to consume meat or animal products. Every individual who is a flexitarian will be different in terms of how much meat they allow themselves, but the basic idea is that they mostly eat a vegetarian diet with occasional meat.
The Benefits Of Going Meatless
Research shows that going meatless even one day a week can lead to positive impact on health and the environment, while also saving animals from death. Meatless Monday is a popular option which has shown a reduction in deadly illnesses in those who adhere to it. It also helps with minimizing water usage, reducing greenhouse gases, and cutting fuel dependency. The more a flexitarian eats meatless, the most benefits that will be seen.
Now that we’ve looked at the different types of vegetarians, we can delve into some of the other questions and concerns people have about vegetarianism. There are many stereotypes about vegetarian individuals that paint a picture of a person who only eats salad or has a very boring diet. That simply is not true. A vegetarian diet can be extremely varied and delicious. We’ll look at that, as well as some other common questions going forward.
How Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?
This is a common question, and it is based on an outdated experiment from the early 1900s. The truth is that many current studies show that too much protein, especially animal protein, is a more significant problem. This can leach calcium, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and magnesium from the body and impair the kidneys. In fact, too much protein has been shown to cause cancer, obesity, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
While too much protein is proven to be bad, the body does need some amount of it. The good thing is that every food has protein in it, at least in some amount. A diet that includes grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, and legumes provides more than enough protein to keep a body healthy. In addition, it does so without the added saturated fats, cholesterol, chemicals, antibiotics, and other substances found in animal products.
Is Dairy Needed to Get Enough Calcium?
There is no need to consume dairy to get a sufficient amount of calcium. In fact, studies show that people who live in countries that often consume animal milk have weaker bones than those in countries that do not drink milk. Osteoporosis has been linked to excess protein along with a sedentary lifestyle. Dairy contains things like hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, and chemicals, as well.
A reliable source of minerals, including magnesium, selenium, chromium, and manganese, is found in fresh vegetables and fruit. They also contain boron, which helps lessen the loss of calcium through urine, unlike dairy products that increase the loss of calcium. Some of the foods that help with this are molasses, quinoa, green leafy vegetables like collards and kale, soy products, broccoli, chickpeas, grapefruits, fortified grains, seeds, red beans, nuts, and more.
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
We mentioned a number of foods above that could be included in a vegetarian diet, but the sky is the limit. There are lists of recipes and foods that are included in a vegetarian diet online that can be a good help for answering this question. But just to answer the question succinctly, a vegetarian diet can consist of everything from pizza to stir fry to falafel and fajitas. Vegans and vegetarians also have the option of eating meat substitutes, such as seitan, tofu, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and soy-based food.
What Snacks Can a Vegetarian Eat?
Snacking isn’t something you have to give up as a vegetarian. In fact, there are vegetarian and vegan versions of almost everything that is traditionally meat-based. Many tortilla chips and potato chips are vegan unless they contain cheese or dairy. It’s just a matter of checking the labels.
In addition, you can find tons of vegetarian and vegan products in health food store. Natural foods markets are great for a vegetarian. There will be aisles and shelves full of vegetarian-friendly products. If you just want a list of vegan foods found in most supermarkets, there are many online that you can look at.
What Should I Do if I Want to Go Vegetarian?
This is a complicated question because it really depends on personality. Some people choose to give up all meats at once, while others might slowly phase out certain types of meat or dishes until they are left with a vegetarian diet. However, we’ll go over a few options you have and things you should be aware of if you are choosing this new lifestyle.
Determine What Your Reason Is For Choosing Vegetarianism
- Determine what your reason is for choosing vegetarianism. You need to have motivation behind such a significant life change, as that will keep you at it for a longer time. You may simply prefer to eat fruits and vegetables, or you might want to help contribute to a cleaner environment. Many people become vegetarians to avoid causing harm to animals. Any of these reasons is sufficient, as long as it matters to you.
- Learn more about vegetarianism. Find out the benefits of vegetarianism and the challenges you might come across. You could check out a few books at your local library or just do a search on There are also many great recipe sites online. And a search online will also find you forums so you can talk to others who may be able to answer your questions.
- Find some recipes that sound good. You can choose to buy an excellent vegetarian cookbook or find some exciting recipes online. There are many different sites that offer dozens or even hundreds of recipes for vegetarian and vegan foods. Take a look and find a few recipes to try. You don’t need to go crazy just yet. If you take the plunge, you’ll have your whole life to try more recipes.
Try Out A New Vegetarian Recipe Each Week
- Try out a new recipe each week. If you determine that you like the recipe, add it to your recipe box of dishes you enjoy eating on a regular basis. If you find that you don’t love it, try a new one the next This will allow you to try a few recipes a month and you will soon have five or ten recipes you can go to and know you’ll enjoy. Of course, you can still try other recipes but having a base of about ten recipes will give you a great starting base.
- In addition to trying new vegetarian or vegan recipes, consider making some of your current favorite meals using a meat substitute. If you like spaghetti, make spaghetti with a ground beef alternative. If you enjoy chicken parmesan, find a chicken substitute for trying. There are alternatives for nearly all kinds of meat, and many of them are quite delicious. This is an excellent way to enjoy what you already like but in a meatless way.
Are There Any Other Options Than Becoming A Strict Vegetarian
- Another option is to cut out one type of meat, to begin with. Starting with red meat is a reasonable option, especially as this kind of meat can cause many health issues. Try some new recipes and slowly incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet. You might do one meal vegetarian the first week and two the second and so on.
- After you’ve managed to avoid red meat for a few weeks, try cutting out pork. You can then work on cutting out chicken, then seafood. By doing this in stages, you may find that it is easier to adjust your body to the new diet. It also gives you time to learn new recipes and determine what kind of vegetarian foods you like the most.
- Determine whether you want to cut out eggs and dairy. There is, of course, no requirement to give up eggs or dairy if you do not wish to. However, if you want to take the diet change an extra step, consider dropping one or both of these. You’ll see health benefits as they are high in saturated fats, and you’ll be doing additional good for animals and the environment.
Think About Ingredients Instead Of Meals
- Consider your staple diet and what foods you eat on a regular basis. Don’t think about meals as a whole, but as the ingredients contained in them. Think about vegetarian alternatives to components that are animal products and add those to your shopping list. For instance, you could try tofu in a stir-fry instead of chicken or beef. This will allow you to stock your pantry and shelves with items you need.
- Some people prefer to give up meat all at once, and that’s fine, but it does take a lot of determination. Take the steps above (such as finding substitutes, recipes, list of staples) and give it a go. After a few days, you may find that it’s easier than you expected. You will only have to worry about things like eating out or at friend’s homes.
Why Does Being A Vegetarian Open Up Food Choices
- Becoming a vegetarian often leads to an appreciation for ethnic food. As there are many amazing vegetarian dishes from around the world. You could try a Thai night one week and an Ethiopian meal the next. This is a great way to get some variety into your diet if you start to feel like the dishes you eat are going a bit stale from overuse.
- If you decide to go vegetarian, you will have to tell your loved ones at some point. You will be dining with them at restaurants, homes, and social gatherings so let them know what you are doing and, if they are interested, why. Most people will probably have no issues with it, but some people may try to engage in arguments. Just provide them with information and avoid getting upset or forcing your views.
- One of the best pieces of advice we can give is to avoid making vegetarianism a restrictive ordeal. Have fun with it and try different things to have a better chance of sticking with it. If it feels like nothing but a chore, it likely won’t stick as a lifestyle change. If you enjoy the experimentation and new options, it might stick as a lifelong choice.
Plan Ahead To Avoid A Dissapointing Meal Choice
- Sometimes planning ahead can be a great way to handle unfamiliar situations. For instance, if you are going to a dinner or party, prepare a dish that you know you can eat and bring it along. If you’re going out to do some errands, bring along a lunch or a snack, so you don’t have to try to find something suitable to eat at the nearest fast food outlet.
- Another option, especially for those who often come home and want something quick to eat, is to make a significant meal ahead of time. A pot of veggie soup or vegan chili can be made in a huge batch, so you only have to heat it up at night when you aren’t in the mood for cooking. You can also find vegetarian convenience foods for these nights, but they may not be as healthy.
- Depending on where you live there may be limited restaurants with vegetarian options, or there may be dozens. Seek some of these locations out and try some of the dishes. You’ll be surprised what amazing meals can be made without animal products. Even restaurants that primarily cater to meat eaters will often make a vegetarian dish or two if asked.
What Is A Vegetarian Conclusion
Becoming a vegetarian may or may not be your goal, but it isn’t something that has to be a pain or a hassle. There are many great books, websites, and forums out there to find others who are on this journey with you. And for those who are simply interested in learning more about vegetarianism. Perhaps because a friend or family member is vegetarian, we hope this primer provides you with all the information you need to understand that choice.