In conversation with people, food is often an easy topic that seems to rears its hungry head. And inevitably at some point or another, I end up professing "I'm a vegetarian." The response that many times I receive is along the lines of "I'm mostly a vegetarian" or "I'm a vegetarian but don't eat red meat" or "I'm a vegetarian but only eat chicken and fish." . . . . This prompts me to make the request in the image below:
. . .
I'm not exactly sure when someone suddenly decided that chicken and fish joined the fruit and vegetable food group. It seems to make about as much sense as the false and sensationalized stories that Congress was trying to declare pizza as a vegetable.
That said, it's obvious the perception and definition of a vegetarian is very loosely interpreted. So how about this - let's focus not on what type of vegetarian that we may be, but rather what is our dietary preference?
Below is a nice summary of DIETARY PREFERENCES that should help in providing some clarity:
- Vegan - This is one that we have all likely heard about. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from a carnivore, vegans do not eat any meat (red or white....that includes seafood and poultry), dairy products, certain wines and sugars, honey or any animal byproducts (such as gelatin.) They also tend to abstain from the use of leather and fur products.
- Fruitarian - This one is new to me and I only heard about it after recently watching the movie "Notting Hill." Fruitarians lead an even stricter diet than vegans. They follow the same restrictions as a vegan however will only eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds that naturally fall from a plant or tree and can be harvested without killing or harming the plant. There is some wiggle room here in that some fruitarians do not eat nuts and seeds and others do. This I'm guessing is a personal choice. I have never personally known a fruitarian but would love to hear from one. Please do email me if you know of someone. It could make for an interesting chat/post.
- Lacto Vegetarian - Now we're getting into the realm of true "types of vegetarians." A lacto vegetarian (me) is the same as a vegan but does partake in dairy products such as milk and cheese. Mmmmm CHEESE. Ahem...Excuse me...I digress.
- Ovo Vegetarian - This one is like a lacto vegetarian but with the dairy and egg restriction flipped - they avoid all meat and dairy products but they do eat eggs. Very rarely have I come across someone with this dietary preference.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian - A lacto-ovo vegetarian is a combo of the two vegetarians listed above but are game for eating any dairy and egg products.
- Pescatarian - Now we're braving into a new territory of terminology. <Insert choice of dramatic music here> Pescatarians avoid only red meat and poultry.
- Pollo-tarian - Pronounced poyo, someone of this dietary preference avoids red meat and seafood only.
- Flexitarian - For some reason this particular term brings to mind an interesting image of a combo of yoga meets food.... That's not really the case however it could make for an interesting act on "America's Got Talent." I have found an increasing number of my friends and acquaintances that follow this diet mainly for health reasons over anything else. They are similar to lacto-ovo vegetarians but incorporate a limited amount of seafood and poultry into their diet depending on their desire and preference at any given moment.
- Pseudovegetarian - I made this one up but I will say that I do know some people that fit in this category. This is the person that proudly and loudly proclaims "I'm a vegetarian" and the moment you sit down at the table, they're ordering the chicken parmigiana or beef stroganoff from the waiter. Vegetarian my ass!
- And then at the complete opposite end of the spectrum we have the straight up carnivore. I don't know of anyone who is a pure carnivore (at least not anyone human), but I can think of a handful of friends that come pretty darn close.
So having given the full dietary gradient, I'm sure we all fall into one bucket or another. Or perhaps have our feet in two different buckets and are in a transitory phase of evolving from one to the next.
Whatever it is and whatever your reasons may be - it is your dietary preference.