Types of Vegetarians

“I’m a level 5 vegan—I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow.” –The Simpsons

People often point to some food item and ask me, “Can you eat this?” My answer is always “Sure, I can eat whatever I want.” I choose not to eat certain things. When deciding what type or kind of vegetarian you want to be, think about what you want to include or avoid. You don’t need to fit into one of these categories, but understanding them will help you think about your short-term and long-term goals when you are becom...MOREing a vegetarian

  • 01 of 07

    You don’t have to be vegetarian to love vegetarian food! “Flexitarian” is a term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat.

  • 02 of 07

    The word “pescatarian” is occasionally used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. Although the word is not commonly used, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet.

  • 03 of 07
    A collection of vegetarian foods: Fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk and grains
    Vegetarian foods photo by Sunil Menon; Note that eggs are NOT included on a lacto-vegetarian diet!

    When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians. People who do not eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish or animal flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products are lacto-ovo vegetarians (“lacto” comes from the Latin for milk, and “ovo” for egg). 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. Lacto-ovo...MORE vegetarian, that is, a vegetarian who eats both eggs and dairy products, is the most common kind of vegetarian.

  • 04 of 07
    eric-anthony-johnson.jpg
    Healthy fresh produce photo by Eric Anthony / Getty Images

    Vegans do not eat meat of any kind and also do not eat eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin (as opposed who vegetarians, who usually eat dairy products and eggs). Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that are made using animal products that may not contain animal products in the finished process, such as sugar and some wines. There is some debate as to whether certain foods, such as honey, fit into a vegan diet.

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  • 05 of 07
    Red pepper wrap and salad
    KarinaUrmantseva/Getty Images

    A raw vegan diet consists of unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). “Raw foodists” believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body.

  • 06 of 07

    The macrobiotic diet, revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon, and sea vegetables, such as wakame and other seaweeds.

  • 07 of 07
    Grilled tofu
    Steve Brown Photography / Getty Images

    If you're interested in exploring a healthy vegetarian diet, but haven't yet made the leap, check out my tips for how to become vegetarian

    See also: Easy vegetarian recipes for any occasion