Vegetarianism has been practiced for many centuries. Some are vegetarian for religious reasons, others for ethical reasons, and others simply believe that it is a healthier way to live. As long as one includes all of the necessary vitamins and minerals in one’s vegetarian diet, vegetarianism does not cause any health problems.
Some people believe that the words “vegetarian” and “vegan” mean the same thing, but they do not. Vegetarian is a broader term that encompasses several different diets, while vegans eat a specific type of diet and often try to avoid any animal products in their lives.
Vegans do not eat any type of animal flesh, nor do they consume animal products such as eggs and milk. Most vegans do not even eat honey, and some do not eat yeast products. Lifestyle characteristics include not wearing any type of animal product, including silk or wool, and not using lotions or other products that have ingredients that originate from animals.
These requirements are set forth by vegan societies. Individual vegans may or may not follow them to the letter. But the principle is to avoid consuming or using anything that could harm any type of animal. Those who adhere to a strict vegan diet but are not concerned with non-food uses of animal products are called dietary vegans.
Lacto Vegetarians and Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians
Lacto vegetarians have the same dietary principles as vegans, except they do consume milk products. Ovo-Lacto vegetarians are the same as lacto vegetarians, but they also consume eggs and egg products. Both groups may or may not avoid use of non-food animal products.
Other Types of Vegetarians
There are a few other groups that associate themselves with vegetarianism. Pesectarians, for example, consume something similar to a vegetarian diet, but they eat fish as well. Fruitarians eat a vegan diet, but they also exclude foods that kill the plant when harvested.
Which Type of Vegetarian Diet is Best?
The best type of vegetarian diet depends on a person’s individual motives for being a vegetarian. Those who are vegetarians because they want to combat animal cruelty usually opt for a vegan diet. People who simply want to avoid supporting factory farming techniques often become pesectarians. And those who want to avoid the health risks of consuming meat may become lacto or ovo-lacto vegetarians.
Some argue that a raw vegan diet, in which vegan foods are not cooked above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, is the healthiest diet for humans. There is some debate around the subject, but in any case it is possible to eat a raw vegan diet and still get the nutrients we need to survive.
Veganism is simply a subcategory of vegetarianism. Due to the strict requirements of their diets, they are also sometimes called strict vegetarians. The difference between vegans and vegetarians is that vegetarians may or may not eat foods that are forbidden by the vegan diet.