Like many people, I’m an animal lover. I have two pet Chihuahuas that are my life and soul. Unlike many other people, I have a very hard time disassociating them with other animals. It’s difficult for me to look at a pig, or a cow, or a chicken and not see the same innocence and cuteness that I see in my pets. For that reason, I’ve sampled the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles many times over the last three decades of my life.
For those that do not know, there are MULTIPLE levels to this sort of thing. Multiple.
Here’s a quick summary of all the different types of vegetarians/vegans out there. Prepare to have your mind blown by the varieties out there, folks:
- Flexitarian: Tries to avoid meat, but occasionally allows themselves to indulge. These people tend to do this as a “humane” effort and not necessarily as a health issue.
- Pescatarian: Avoids chicken, pork, and red meat, but considers fish & seafood to be acceptable for consumption. They are also OK with eating animal products, such as dairy and eggs.
- The Basic Vegetarian: Avoids meat things cooked in meat-bases, such as chicken-stock, beef-stock, etc. They tend to focus on plant and soy based foods and are OK with the consumption of dairy, eggs, honey, and many other animal by-products.
- Ovo-Vegetarian: All of the above, but avoids dairy and dairy by-products. No milk for these peeps!
- Lacto-Vegetarian: Same as the basic vegetarian, except they permit the consumption of dairy but avoid eggs and egg-containing products, as they consider it to be an unfertilized embryo. Ewwww.
- Ovo-Lacto: Avoids meat, dairy, and eggs as well as their by-products.
- Vegan: The extreme version of vegetarian. No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no honey, or any other product that results from the use of animals. True vegans will not use make-up tested on animals, wear leather, or even use vitamins that contain stearic acid or another other potential animal derivatives. This can even include something as simple as yellow dye #5, which is a pork derivative. As someone allergic to pork [sucks, I know], I’ve already learned how to avoid these foods.
- Fruitarian: EXTREME. These people only eat the “fruit” of plants – think apples, tomatoes, bananas, etc. They will not eat root vegetables, as that kills the plant. Not sure how you can live like this, but so be it.
I’ve heard a rumor that there is ANOTHER level of extremist vegan, which somehow involves living on the microbes in the air and the healing effects of the sun. Um. Yeah. That’s not happening.
Currently, I’m in a stage between vegetarian and vegan. I’m trying to avoid eggs and dairy products, but find myself cheating often. I’ve successfully avoided meat for almost two weeks, primarily because I freaking LOVE Boca Burgers and Morningstar Farms products. And don’t get me started on Gardein – nom nom nom!
However… I also really, really love cheese. Almond milk cheese – as good as it is – really doesn’t compare. I’ve never been a milk drinker, so I don’t really miss out in that area. I eat soy yogurts, use coconut based creamer for my coffee, and eat pints of coconut and rice-milk ice cream like it’s going out of style. Just CHEESE kills me.
I’ll be honest with you, though. I haven’t lost a pound. Nor have I gained, though, but that’s through conscious effort on my part. I can see how easily I could gain weight this way, as it’s very easy to get lazy and just sit down with a giant bowl of rice or pasta. That seems to be the “vegetarian-option” at most restaurants, too, so I’m learning to just order big salads and ask for the meat to be replaced with extra veggies. It’s an extra step on the part of the server, but it’s worth it for the damage that would otherwise happen to my waistline.
For those considering a vegan diet, I’d strongly suggest checking out the following blog:
This guy is my HERO.