What Does Vegetarian Mean?

What Does Vegetarian Mean?
The idea of vegetarianism dates back to as early as the 1830s when religious groups in India and Greece determined that violence toward animals was not ethical. The idea of “meatless Mondays” was a result of the US Food Administration’s request to decrease the consumption of food staples to help during World War I. Whether due to a belief system, dietary reasons, or economic needs, the history of vegetarianism is varied and still evolving.

Every culture and socioeconomic class incorporates different types of food into their diets for various reasons. Again, some due to beliefs, dietary restrictions or finances. As we go about deciding for ourselves what foods are healthiest to ingest, the best act we can take is to educate ourselves about our options. The first place to start is to understand the definitions along the vegetarian spectrum.

Starting with the most selective category is fruitarianism. A fruitarian will only ingest fruit or other plant matter that is obtained without harming the plant. For example, a fruitarian will eat a piece of fallen fruit from a tree that grows in organic soil without chemicals.

The next most focused category is raw veganism. Folks who adopt this diet do not eat or wear anything animal related, and what they do eat, such as vegetables, fruit and grains, are not cooked or cooked only to a certain temperature. The next step up this ladder is veganism which also incorporates only non-animal related foods and items but does allow the cooking of produce.

Next up is a lacto-ovo vegetarian who consumes no animal flesh, but will eat eggs, milk and honey which are all from animals. I am an example of a lacto-ovo vegetarian because I do not eat animal flesh, yet I eat ice cream, chocolate cake, and honey in my tea. Along this spectrum are ovo vegetarians who will eat eggs but no dairy and lacto vegetarians who will eat dairy but no eggs.

A macrobiotic diet consists mainly of whole grains and beans, as well as lightly cooked vegetables. Some macrobiotic diets also include fish, which according to the definition of vegetarianism no longer fits into the vegetarian spectrum.

Along those lines, there are people who are pesco vegetarians, who eat fish and vegetables but no red meat or poultry. Then, there are pollo vegetarians who eat poultry and vegetables but no red meat or fish. Again, according to the definition of vegetarianism, these categories are not considered in the vegetarian spectrum because there is the consumption of meat.

These categories are interesting and hopefully helpful to begin to identify where you may fit along the vegetarian spectrum. Of course, consult your doctor prior to making any dietary changes to get more information about what your body and health needs are. It is important to understand and learn how to implement any type of food in a way that includes enough nutrients and vitamins for your body at your current state of health.

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