Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of vegetarians. This plant-based and meat-free diet and lifestyle has increased in popularity among a variety of people, including those passionate about their health, the environment, animal rights, and even foodies! That’s due to the plethora of benefits a vegetarian diet can have for the individual and far beyond. What you may not know is that there are actually seven different types of vegetarians! Yes, seven.
Because vegetarianism isn’t just whether or not you eat vegetables as your primary source of nutrition and can have varying rules and practices, many vegetarians choose to identify with a more specific way of eating. In this guide, we’ll be taking a closer look at these seven segments of the vegetarian lifestyle, what each of them chooses to eat, and how to choose the right dietary option for you.
What is a Vegetarian?
In general, vegetarians will eliminate animal foods from their diets. This almost always includes chicken (and other fowl), pork, beef, venison, lamb or mutton, and all other four-legged mammals. The variations come in when we discuss animal by-products, and thus, we end up with seven different types of vegetarians. So, in short, a vegetarian always (unless another dietary restriction prevents it) eats fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and grains but let’s take a closer look at the other foods they may allow themselves to eat as part of certain types.
First up in the categories of vegetarians is what is formally known as a lacto-vegetarian. These individuals tend to have all the same restrictions as vegetarians, including eliminating meat and eggs from their diet and relying primarily on plant-based foods to get their nutrition. However, lacto-vegetarians also allow themselves to consume dairy products like milk, yogurt, butter, and cheese.
There are several reasons that some people may choose to follow this diet instead of the others on this list. First, they may simply enjoy dairy products and be unwilling to eliminate them from the diet. While this is reason enough, they may have other motives as well. For instance, dairy contains notable amounts of protein, so if an individual is concerned with consuming enough protein in their vegetarian diet, keeping dairy products in the mix may help them feel more secure.
Similarly, ovo-vegetarians are very close in their choices to vegetarians. However, while they do not consume meat and dairy products in their diet, they choose to eat eggs. Again, they may choose for any reason, but commonly it is either because they enjoy eating eggs or feel they need to consume them for their nutritional value.
3. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians
Should, hopefully, be pretty self-explanatory at this point. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eliminate meat from their diets but continue to eat both dairy products and eggs. Once again, people may choose this lifestyle for many reasons, with some of the most common being the enjoyment of these foods, protein concerns, and even differing philosophies in terms of animal welfare.
Next up, we have vegans. There are a few differences between vegans and vegetarians. This is another commonly known distinction of the vegetarian lifestyle and is generally acknowledged as one of the most restrictive dietary philosophies. Those who choose to follow vegan principles not only eliminate animal meat, dairy products, and eggs from their diets, they also remove all animal by-products. This includes honey, gelatin, collagen, and even white sugar. Oftentimes, vegans will also abstain from purchasing certain products if they contain any form of animal product.
It’s worth noting that there is a subset of vegans as well, known as raw vegans. These individuals will only consume raw, uncooked plant-based foods. This way of life is generally believed to be a testament to the way our ancestors lived before they had access to fire for cooking. However, there is debate within the scientific and nutritional communities about whether or not a raw vegan diet has any additional benefits to a vegan or other vegetarian diet.
While there is some debate within the vegetarian community as to whether a pescatarian diet should be considered vegetarian, for our purposes, we’re putting it on the list! Pescatarians are those individuals who choose to continue eating fish and shellfish while eliminating other land animal proteins from their diet, including chicken, pork, and beef. Depending on each person’s approach to this diet, pescatarians may or may not consume eggs or dairy products.
Given the minimal restrictions put in place by a pescatarian lifestyle, this can be an excellent great option for someone who would like to reduce their consumption of animal proteins significantly, but may not be prepared to completely eliminate them as a source of protein and nutrition. Fish and other seafood have also been shown to provide considerable health benefits, especially cardiovascular health. So, those who struggle with certain health conditions may choose to keep seafood as a part of their regular diet.
Similarly, a pollotarian is someone who eliminates red meat and pork from their diet but will continue to consume poultry, such as chicken, duck, turkey, and other fowl. For some individuals, this is a step on their journey to eliminating animal proteins, while others may be more concerned about the health effects of consuming red meat. Like a pescatarian diet, pollotarians have slightly fewer restrictions than other types of vegetarians, and so it may be an easier transition into a plant-based lifestyle.
Finally, the last type of vegetarianism is what has been deemed flexitarian. As the name suggests, those following this lifestyle are flexible with their diet and the limitations they place on themselves when it comes to food. As opposed to the rest of the vegetarian spectrum, flexitarians may not completely eliminate animal proteins or animal products from their diet. Instead, they often make a conscious and concerted effort to reduce their consumption of these foods while still eating them occasionally or under certain conditions. For example, a flexitarian may reduce meat consumption to only two days per week or limit themselves only to eating grass-fed beef or pasture-raised eggs.
The flexitarian diet is excellent for someone who would like to make changes to their diet, but may not be prepared or have the motivation to do a complete overhaul of their lifestyle. Opting into this lifestyle gives you more time to consider the meatless product offerings available to you, while also learning more about both the health benefits and environmental impact changing your diet can have.
In fact, many people are most likely flexitarians whether they realize it or not. There has been a significant increase in those interested in a vegetarian lifestyle due to the rise in coverage regarding the benefits. However, most people have grown up with a meat-centric diet and find it challenging to switch immediately. So, flexitarianism allows them to slowly make changes that they can be consistent with over a longer period of time. This is one of our best tips on how to start a plant-based diet! Check out our blog to learn more.
Making the Right Choice
With all this variety among the different types of vegetarians, it may feel overwhelming to choose. However, this is the opposite of what these classifications indicate. In short, there are so many different types of vegetarians because there is no “right” choice or way to become plant-based. Each category developed because those individuals were simply doing what worked best for them, their preferences, and their lifestyle.
As you consider shifting to a plant-based diet, you need to do the same. Do not try to force yourself into a diet that you aren’t ready for or comfortable with. Instead, start slow by making small changes and make different choices as you want to. These lifestyles don’t always have to be restrictive! It is still possible to have events such as a vegetarian BBQ – complete with some great vegan summer recipes! And always remember that there is no “right” when it comes to being a vegetarian. There is only what works for you!
About the Author
Angela Walker is a BANT and CNHC registered nutritional therapist with over 12 years of clinical experience, including 8 years with the award-winning, Optimum Health Clinic. Angela is a Nutrition Consultant for Meatless Farm, where she develops nutrition research and communicates the personal health benefits of eating plant-based foods. Angela is also a nutritionist and performance coach of Food for Thought, a program designed to change the way people think about food, diet and nutrition, based on the principles and practices of personalized nutrition and functional medicine. Angela is a published author of many well-known articles including ‘Case Studies in Personalized Nutrition’, a core text at many of the training providers for nutritional therapy and personalized nutrition in the UK and US.
People who only eat meat are called vegetarians.What is a Level 5 vegetarian? ›
Level 5 vegans are those who are seen as incredibly committed to the vegan lifestyle, and are often hailed as “extreme vegans”. Level 5 vegans go to an extensive effort to follow a vegan lifestyle that is free of any type of animal product or animal exploitation.What are the seven different types of vegetarians? ›
What is a Vegetarian?
- Lacto-Vegetarians. ...
- Ovo-Vegetarians. ...
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians. ...
- Vegans. ...
- Pescatarians. ...
- Pollotarian. ...
- Tofu. Tofu is the classic meat alternative and has been one of the basic sources of nutrition in Asia for centuries. ...
- Soy protein. Soy chunks and mince are very inexpensive ingredients that are easy to prepare. ...
- Tempeh. ...
- Seitan/wheat protein. ...
- Lupin protein. ...
- Green spelt. ...
- Oat flakes. ...
- Black beans.
The bottom line
Many vegetarians eat eggs even if they exclude animal flesh and fish from their diet. Those who eat eggs and dairy are known as lacto-ovo vegetarians, while those who eat eggs but no dairy are ovo-vegetarians.
Also known as pollo-vegetarian, the pollotarian diet is considered to be a type of semi-vegetarianism, as some forms of animal meat are allowed. While the prefix “pollo” literally translates to “chicken” in Spanish, pollotarians generally eat all forms of poultry, including turkey and duck.What is the most common type of vegetarian? ›
Lacto-ovo vegetarians are the most common kind of vegetarian. You can be just one or the other. A lacto-vegetarian is used to describe a type of vegetarian who does not eat eggs but does eat dairy products. Ovo-vegetarian refers to people who do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs.What is the strictest type of vegetarian? ›
Strict vegetarians, or vegans, eat plant foods and reject all animal products—meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and sometimes honey. Those who also eat dairy products are called lacto vegetarians. Vegetarians who eat both dairy and eggs are called lacto-ovo vegetarians.How are vegetarians classified? ›
Lacto-vegetarian – people who do not eat meat, seafood and eggs, but include dairy foods and plant foods. Ovo-vegetarian – people who do not eat meat, seafood and dairy foods, but include eggs and plant foods. Vegan – people who avoid all animal foods and only eat plant foods.Do vegetarians eat eggs? ›
Well, the short answer is yes! Unless they are vegan (meaning they don't eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals), some vegetarians do eat eggs and belong to a group known as lacto-ovo-vegetarians which according to the Vegetarian Society is the most common type of meatless diet.
Older Vegetarian Kids and Teens
If it's done right, a meat-free diet can be a good choice for teens, especially considering that vegetarians often eat more of the foods that most teens don't get enough of — fruits and vegetables.
A 100% vegetarian or vegan (pronounced VEE-gan) is someone choosing a lifestyle free from animal products for the benefit of people, animals and the environment. They eat a plant-based diet free from all animal products.Can you be 14 vegetarian? ›
Well-planned vegetarian diets can be nutritious for people of all ages and can provide you with all the nutrients for good health. But planning is key! A dietitian can help make sure your teen is getting all the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy.What is a Level 6 vegan? ›
Level Six Vegan – The Power of being Self-Sustainable
This level involves living entirely in tune with nature, consciously aware of all beings. Eliminating every aspect of animal products in your everyday life. Uses absolutely no animal or by-animal products.
Dietary vegans, also known as "strict vegetarians", refrain from consuming meat, eggs, dairy products, and any other animal-derived substances.What do you call a vegetarian who doesn eat dairy? ›
An ovo-vegetarian diet doesn't include dairy products, but does incorporate eggs, as the “ovo” prefix indicates. In addition to excluding meat and fish, an ovo-vegetarian diet excludes all dairy products and foods made using them, such as cow's milk, cheese, butter, sour cream, yogurt, and ice cream.What do you call a vegetarian that eats eggs and dairy? ›
A lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is a primarily plant-based diet that excludes meat, fish, and poultry but includes dairy and eggs. In the name, “lacto” refers to dairy products, while “ovo” refers to eggs.What is healthier vegetarian or meat? ›
The health factor
A plant-based diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. And people who don't eat meat — vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.
Legumes Beans, lentils and peas are great protein-rich substitutes for meats, and can be used in anything from chili to soups. Tofu A good substitute for most meats including chicken, pork and beef, tofu is derived from soybeans and is full of protein (3 ounces of extra-firm tofu has around 8 grams of protein).What proteins can replace meat? ›
- Beans and legumes: Beans and legumes are a rich source of fiber and B vitamins. ...
- Soy: One cup of boiled soybeans (172 g) contains around 29 grams of protein.
- Nuts and nut butters: One tablespoon of almond, peanut or cashew butter provides 3 to 4 grams of protein and 8 to 9 grams of total fat.
Pescatarians have a lot in common with vegetarians. They eat fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, eggs, and dairy, and stay away from meat and poultry. But there's one way they part company from vegetarians: Pescatarians eat fish and other seafood.Can vegetarians drink milk? ›
Vegetarians may eat dairy products, eggs, honey, and other byproducts that do not involve the slaughter of animals. However, there are several variations of the vegetarian diet. For example, some vegetarians choose to eat eggs but not dairy products.Can vegetarians eat honey? ›
Unlike overt animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy, foods from insects aren't always grouped into the vegan category. In fact, some vegans who eat an otherwise entirely plant-based diet may opt to include honey in their diet.What is a Carnitarian? ›
Definitely Not Vegan!
A carnitarian is when you don't eat fish or seafood and it turns out it's very good for your health. This is also a good alternative for someone who wants to play their part in helping the environment. Being a carnitarian is a good option, not only for the environment but also your health.
There are many reasons people choose to forgo red meat and poultry, but still eat fish. Some people choose to add fish to a vegetarian diet so they can get the health benefits of a plant-based diet plus heart-healthy fish. Others might be trying to curb the environmental impact of their diet.Which bird is vegetarian? ›
The vegetarian finch (Platyspiza crassirostris) is a species of bird in the Darwin's finch group of the tanager family Thraupidae. It is the only member of the genus Platyspiza. It is endemic to the Galápagos Islands.Which country is mostly vegetarian? ›
India is thought to have the most vegetarians globally, with up to 42% of the population avoiding meat products.What type of vegetarian is healthiest? ›
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet
For most people, this is a healthy diet. Advantages of the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet include: A wide array of options for consuming protein, including eggs, cheese, milk and yogurt. Less risk of low intake of vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron compared to some other vegetarian diet options.
Try vegetarian diet, study says. LONDON — A British study of how diet affects the health of new mothers and their babies produced the surprise finding that vegetarian women are more likely to have girls, one of the report's authors said Tuesday.Are vegetarians more obese? ›
While many believe a vegetarian diet is generally healthier than a non-vegetarian diet, the reverse has been observed when it comes to morbid obesity. The main reason for this is a 'nutrition transition', which involves whole plant foods being replaced by processed and fried foods, as well as refined carbohydrates.
Vegetarians tend to be slimmer and less extroverted than meat eaters, study finds. Summary: The less animal products someone consumes, the lower his body mass index on average and the less he tends to be extroverted.What is a true vegetarian? ›
According to the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, or by-products of animal slaughter (1) Vegetarian diets contain various levels of fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds.Who were the first vegetarians? ›
Some of the first self-proclaimed vegetarians were the Pythagoreans, a title derived from the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, creator of the geometric Pythagorean theorem. Though Pythagoras loaned his name to the meatless diet, it is unclear whether or not he followed a strict vegetarian regimen.What is a non meat eater called? ›
Vegetarians abstain from the consumption of all animal flesh products, like red meat, fish and poultry. This may also include the abstention of by-products of animals processed for food.Can vegetarians eat pizza? ›
Pizza is still a staple among those following a meat-free or completely plant-based diet. Here's our guide to how to enjoy pizza while changing your diet. Now if you're a vegetarian, you can still enjoy cheese on your pie. A classic cheese is always a crowd pleaser for those just eliminating meat from their diet.Can vegetarians eat rice? ›
Plenty of non-meat foods are packed with protein, iron, B vitamins and other nutrients that carnivores get through flesh. However, beans and rice are complementary proteins, meaning together they contain all the essential amino acids. This makes them excellent choices for vegetarians, so dig in if you adore them.Can vegetarians eat ice cream? ›
Even ice cream isn't safe for vegetarians. Castoreum, a musky brown liquid that beavers use to mark their territory, has a rich vanilla-like scent that some companies use to flavor vanilla ice cream without using artificial flavoring.Can babies be vegetarian? ›
And just as vegetarian diets can be nutritious and safe for adults, they can be nutritious and safe for babies and toddlers, too. Our babies' first foods, after all, tend to be cereals, mashed vegetables and puréed fruits.Can I eat ramen as a vegetarian? ›
What Is Ramen? Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour and oil, usually with a few extra ingredients for flavor, such as salt, or additional fillers such as potato starch - and that's it! All these ingredients are 100% vegetarian, and even 100% vegan!Are vegetarian kids shorter? ›
Vegetarian and meat-eating children have similar growth and nutrition but not weight, study finds. In terms of height and other nutritional measures, vegetarian children and non-vegetarian children are similar, a new study has found.
Bottom Line. A vegetarian or vegan diet needs more planning but it is perfectly possible to obtain enough protein to build muscle and optimise performance without eating meat. The key is to eat a variety of plant proteins, including beans, lentils, soya products, nuts, seeds, whole grains.Are vegetarians less strong? ›
A new study based on data from almost 55,000 people – which included 2,000 vegans – has found that those who say no to meat are 43% more likely break a bone.What are the 3 most common types of vegetarians? ›
- Vegetarian (aka lacto-ovo vegetarians)
- Raw vegan.
Many vegetarians eat eggs even if they exclude animal flesh and fish from their diet. Those who eat eggs and dairy are known as lacto-ovo vegetarians, while those who eat eggs but no dairy are ovo-vegetarians.What is a vegetarian that eats fish called? ›
Pescatarians have a lot in common with vegetarians. They eat fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, eggs, and dairy, and stay away from meat and poultry. But there's one way they part company from vegetarians: Pescatarians eat fish and other seafood.Can a vegetarian eat eggs? ›
Vegetarians do not eat fish, meat or poultry, but do eat eggs and dairy. Vegans also follow the no-meat rule, but also exclude animal products or by-products such as eggs, dairy and honey.