12 Categories of Plant Food Diets – Vegetarian, Raw, Vegan and Fruitarian
Many people think of vegetarians as one homogeneous group that just doesn’t eat meat. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are different categories of vegetarians as diverse as the reasons for going vegetarian in the first place.
A vegetarian is generally defined as someone who doesn’t eat meat. But someone who is vegetarian could conceivably eat dairy products such as milk, eggs and cheese. A ovolactovegetarian or lacto-ovo-vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but does consume eggs, milk or cheese. An ovovegetarian does eat eggs but does not consume any dairy foods. A lactovegetarian consumes milk and cheese products, but doesn’t consume eggs.
When I visited India, I discovered that a strict vegetarian, religious diet called Jain vegetarianism existed in eastern cultures. Based on their religious beliefs, Jains do not consume meat, fish, eggs, honey or even root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. They do however consume dairy products because they consider cows as sacred. They do have other dietary restrictions as well.
A vegan is someone who doesn’t consume any animal product or by-product, including dairy food. They eat only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and legumes. They also don’t use animal products, such as leather. Vegans also don’t use white sugar because it’s often processed with a substance derived from animal bones that whitens the sugar.
Another category within the vegetarian community is Fruitarians. They mainly eat fruit. The thought is that fruits, including fruits such as tomatoes, are self-perpetuating and don’t need to be planted to create the food source. They consider it a way of eating that’s most in balance and harmony with the earth, the most natural. Although they mostly eat fruit, they do eat greens and some nuts and seeds.
All of the above will eat cooked vegetables, fruits and legumes.
Then there is the raw foodist or raw vegan who eats only raw or living foods. Because cooking food can process most of the nutrients out of it, and to get all the nutritional value, vitamins and amino acids from food, it is best consumed raw, or juiced. If cooked at all, it should only be cooked to slightly over 100 degrees, so the nutrients are still retained.
Both vegans and vegetarians who chose to select the highest-quality of foods they eat fall in yet another category – organic-only vegetarians or vegans.
There is a kind of semi-vegetarian group. Within this group there is a pescatarian or pescetarian. A pescatarian eats vegetables and only fish or seafood but no other meats. A pollotarian eat only fowl and poultry but do not consume any other red meats, fish or seafood. Flexitarian, another semi-vegetarian, eat mainly plant-based diet and occasionally may consume meat.
So when you hear the question asked, “Are you a vegetarian?,” you can understand why you may have to educate that person.
Just be mindful that the more restrictive you become with your diet, however, the more educated you need to become to be sure you’re getting all the necessary proteins and vitamins that you need to maintain good health, especially muscle and heart health.