When I first became interested in vegetarianism back in the 80's, I thought you merely eliminated meat and that was it. Was I wrong! As you can see by the list below, there is more than one way to be a vegetarian. You might find your niche right away and happily settle in for the long haul, or you might be someone who likes to bounce around and try different things. There is no wrong way to do it. What is important is that you find what works best for you and keeps you healthy and happy.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian - This may be the most common type of vegetarian and this is usually the one that most people think of when they hear the word vegetarian. Lacto-ovo vegetarians, as the name suggests, eat dairy products and eggs along with fruits, vegetables, greens, legumes, grains, soy products, seitan, nuts, and honey.
Lacto vegetarian - This vegetarian eats dairy products, but not eggs. There can be many reasons for this such as a food allergy or ethical concerns. Maybe a local source produces fertilized eggs that would have resulted in chicks. Rest assured though, the majority of supermarket eggs are unfertilized. When shopping for dairy products, it is important to read labels. Yogurt can contain gelatin and many cheeses are made with calf rennet, both of which are animal ingredients.
Ovo vegetarian - This vegetarian eats eggs, but not dairy. For many people, eggs are the last to go on the path to becoming a pure vegetarian or a vegan.
Pure or strict vegetarian - This type is often confused with veganism. While the diet is almost the same, the reasons for the diet are different. A pure vegetarian does not eat dairy products or eggs. They do eat fruits, vegetables, greens, legumes, grains, seitan, nuts, and soy products. Some eat honey as well. There are many different reasons for choosing this lifestyle: health, environmental, spiritual, and ethical, to name but a few.
Vegan - From the vegan perspective, it is all about the animals. Vegans do not eat anything from animals, including honey. They also try to minimize the use of animal products in daily life by using cruelty-free toiletries and makeup and not wearing leather, wool, or fur. It is not possible to be 100% vegan. Animal products are everywhere, from your house, to your car, to your computer. The goal, however, isn't to be perfect. It is to lessen animal exploitation and cruelty as much as possible. Compassion for all of earth's creatures is a beautiful thing.
Low fat vegetarian - I am including this because it is becoming a popular method of treating various lifestyle diseases. The main focus here is a vegetarian or pure vegetarian diet that derives less than 10% of its calories from fat. This is easily achieved by simply eliminating free fats such as butter, margarine and oil, and limiting your intake of fatty foods such as avocado, olives, nuts, etc. Moderate use of fat-free dairy products is allowed depending on whose program you are following. Three well-known advocates of this diet are Dr. Dean Ornish - vegetarian, Dr. Joel Fuhrman - pure vegetarian, and Dr. John McDougall - pure vegetarian.
Raw vegetarian/vegan - As the name suggests, this is a vegetarian or a vegan who doesn't eat cooked food. Dehydrated foods are often used as a substitute for cooked items, and in the colder months, soups and tea that have been warmed gently are a treat. As long as food is not heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, it is considered raw. The most common foods in a raw diet are fruits, vegetables, greens, nuts and seeds, and sprouts. Some raw foodists eat soaked and sprouted grains and beans, and some eat raw dairy and eggs.
Fruitarian - A fruitarian is a raw foodist who only eats fruit, greens, and some nuts and seeds.