Simply put, vegetarianism is the practice of living without meat. But when it comes to defining vegetarianism, the types are as varied as the delicious dishes you can make. Some vegetarians avoid all animal-sourced foods and products. Some opt for eggs and dairy while others even add in fish or seafood. Not sure what you are? Want to know what your vegan friend will eat? Vegetarians generally fall into these categories:
When you say you're a vegetarian, most people will assume you're ovo-lacto — or, that you eat eggs, cheese and other dairy products ("ovo" means eggs and "lacto" means dairy). Beginning ovo-lactos often replace meat with lots of cheesy, starchy dishes. Whole milk, cheese and eggs still contain saturated fats and cholesterol, so don`t go overboard. No matter what your diet is, eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and grains is always the healthiest way to eat.
Similar to ovo-lactos, lacto-vegetarians avoid all meats, including eggs. A lacto still eats milk, cheese, yogurt and other foods that include dairy.
Dropping all animal-sourced foods, vegans take vegetarianism all the way. For all vegans, that means avoiding eggs and dairy. Some others also skip honey because it comes from bees. The strictest vegans don't use anything that comes from animals, including leather, gelatin and even photo film (the latter two are made from animal hooves). Because their diets are the most restricted, vegans should be extra careful to get the nutrients, especially calcium and vitamin B-12, that they need.
The word "flexitarian" was coined in the early '90s to describe people who eat vegetarian most of the time, but not exclusively. Pescatarian is an older term for flexis who eat vegetarian plus fish and seafood ("pesca" means fish).
Believing that cooking destroys food's natural benefits and may even make it harmful, raw foodists only eat foods that have not been heated above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). A raw food diet is made up of fresh vegetables and fruits, sprouted grains and beans, and raw nuts, seeds and oils that are dehydrated, pureed or warmed to approximate familiar dishes, such as dehydrated grain crackers or nut-based "cheeses." Generally, raw foodists are vegan, but in recent years, some have advocated eating raw dairy and fish.