Vegetarian types are often the source of confusion and even arguments. Because there is frequent confusion regarding their differences, we’ve listed short definitions of common types of vegetarians.
Generally those who abstain from meat from animals such as birds, cows, pigs, fish, etc. but may eat foods that contain milk or eggs.
The technical term for vegetarians who eat dairy products and eggs. It’s good to understand this term as it may come up in situations. For example, some airlines label vegetarian meals as lacto-ovo, which lets customers know it’s a vegetarian meal that contains dairy or eggs.
Vegetarians who eat dairy products, but not eggs.
Those who do not eat red meat and poultry, but will eat fish and seafood.
Vegans, unlike other vegetarian types, typically don’t eat or use anything that comes from animal sources. Some choose not to eat honey seeing as it comes from bees. And many choose not to wear leather-based garments, since it comes from the hide of animals. Thus they use fabric belts and handbags, and fabric or synthetic leather shoes and boots.
Plant-based eaters basically eat a vegan diet but are more motivated by personal health rather than animal welfare. Though they won’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, they may use other products that come from animals, such as leather garments, which technically means they are not vegan.
From a nutritional standpoint, it is actually a challenge to include adequate B12 in vegan and plant-based diets as meat is usually the main source of that nutrient. However, since a vegan diet features such a broad variety of foods, vegans can find B vitamins in hemp seeds, Spirulina (a type of algae) and other sources. Still, some individuals warn vegans to take a B12 supplement to make sure their intake is a healthful level. Because B vitamins are water soluble and emit via the urine, they need to be replenished often.
Though fish oil is a rich and convenient source of essential Omega-3 fatty acids, vegans and vegetarians may not consume oil that is harvested from an animal.
For more on veganism (and plant-based diets), please see What is a Vegan?
We hope you find the above definitions helpful, however, it’s important to remember these are just labels and not worth arguing over. Any vegetarian type can certainly thrive on plant-based diet and be proud of their beliefs.
Here at WhyVegetarian.org, we support ALL vegetarian types without judgement and support ANY group or individual effort to eat less meat.