There are several types of vegetarian diets that appeal to those who choose to eat meals consisting exclusively or mainly of plant-based foods.
Since the earliest records of vegetarianism in India and Greece in the 5th century, this particular diet system has evolved to include several sub-diets, each with a different set of parameters.
The various reasons for choosing to eat a meatless diet are usually the determining factors about which sub-diet a person decides to adopt.
Types of Vegetarianism
1. Flexitarian Vegetarian
Not truly a vegetarian plan, the flexitarian for the most part follows a plant-based eating diet, with meat, fish, and/or chicken consumed only on occasion.
2. Pescatarian Vegetarian
This form of “lax” vegetarianism excludes red meat, pork, and poultry, but does allow the consumption of fish and seafood. This diet is often referred to as “semi-vegetarian.” Some pescatarians consume dairy and some do not.
3. Pollotarian Vegetarian
Another form of semi-vegetarianism, the Pollotarian diet, excludes red meat, fish, and seafood but does allow the consumption of poultry and fowl.
4. Lacto Vegetarian Diet
The lacto vegetarian diet excludes all meats, but does allow dairy products like milk and cheese. This type of diet is popular among religious groups such as Hindus and Buddhists as well as many Westerners. Much of this diet is related to adherence to a religious philosophy.
The lacto vegetarian does not consume eggs because it contains future life, and meat is avoided since its consumption would involve the taking of a life. The consumption of dairy products helps the lacto vegetarian to meet his/her calcium requirements, which can be more difficult in a stricter vegetarian diet. Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are common milk products included in the lacto-vegetarian diet.
5. Ovo Vegetarian Diet
Ovo-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, poultry, seafood or dairy, but they do include eggs in their diet.
6. Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet
This form of vegetarianism excludes animal foods with the exception of eggs and milk. Like the lacto vegetarian, the lacto-ovo vegetarian has the advantage over more strict vegetarian diets because milk and eggs more easily provide the much needed nutrients of calcium and zinc. This plan is also popular among some religious groups who avoid meat. Many Seventh-day Adventists follow this diet.
7. Vegan Diet
The vegan diet is by far the strictest and excludes all animal products and their byproducts. Vegans do not consume any animal products, including, red meat, white meat (pork), fish, seafood, and poultry. They also exclude any foods derived from or made with animal products or byproducts, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, mayonnaise, butter, honey, gelatin, and eggs. Vegans do not use any non-food products made from animals, such as beeswax, cosmetics, supplements, silk, leather, or wool.
Like any vegetarian diet, it is hoped that the vegan will receive benefits such as weight loss, and the reduction of the risk of diabetes and heart disease. But for lifestyle vegans, it is more about following a philosophy rather than a diet.
According to the American Vegan Association, “Veganism is compassion in action.” It goes beyond a diet; it is a lifestyle and a philosophy. The philosophy advocates a “Reverence for Life” that adheres to nonviolence towards animals and the Earth. Vegans eat solely plant foods and follow a generally healthy lifestyle, while trying to live harmoniously with the world around them. Animal rights groups are strong advocates of this type of philosophy and many follow this diet.
The vegan diet includes grains, fruit, nuts, and legumes. Soy products such as tofu, soymilk, and veggie burgers are commonly eaten. Soy can be a staple of the diet because it is a complete protein unlike other vegetable protein foods.
Other substitutes for meat products include almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and rice milk. Cheese substitutes include nutritional yeast, as well as products made from soy and tapioca. There are even egg substitutes such as silken tofu.
Strict vegans must be careful to eat a balanced diet that includes proper nutrition in order to get enough vitamins, minerals and protein. Those who follow a well-balanced diet plan usually enjoy the benefits of good health, disease prevention and slower aging.
Growing Popularity of the Vegetarian Diet
Eating vegetarian is popular among the old and young which has spurred the appearance of vegetarian restaurants across the county and the development of food brands that are stocked in health food stores and grocery shops.
These 7 types of vegetarian diets are followed by over 16 million Americans and the interest in vegetarianism continues to climb as the many health benefits become more well known.