So often when you tell people that you are a vegetarian, besides telling you how little meat they eat, they often ask if I am a vegan. As the conversation continues I establish that vegan seems to be a vegetariany word that they have heard, but generally they are not aware that there are different types of vegetarians. So, for those that are not in the loop here is a rundown of the various official and unofficial types of vegetarians. In general, a vegetarian is someone whose diet does not include animal products of one kind or another.
From the most committed you have the VEGANS. They do not eat or wear anything that had anything to do with animals or insects of any kind – sea or land including, honey from bees, seafood, fish, birds or animal flesh.
Then of course there are those VEGANS that forgo the leather belt, leather shoe thing but keep strictly to the diet. What they are called, I don’t know. In this group you will probably find the RAW FOODERS who only eat raw vegetable base foods and the FRUITARIANS who only eat fruits from plants e.g. Apples and tomatoes, cucumbers and some nuts.
The next on the list would be LACTO-VEGETARIANS. They do not eat meat, chicken, fish OR eggs or anything that contains those substances. Basically, they will eat the produce from an animal but not the animals itself so they eat dairy and honey.
Then you have the OVO-LACTO-VEGETARIANS. They are similar to the Lacto-vegetarians but they do eat eggs and foods that contain eggs.
Another variety is the OVO-VEGETARIAN that eat eggs but not dairy and of course not animals, fish or birds.
I recently was introduced to a PESCATARIAN – amazing word! These are essentially vegetarians (don’t eat animals and birds) but they do eat fish.
Some while ago I was told that there is such a group called LONDON VEGETARIANS – They, are not vegetarians at all but apparently forgo the animal meat but eat fish and birds, usually in the form of chickens.
In my experience the best people to be around (except vegetarians) are Muslims and Jews, who generally, have a level of sensitivity and acceptance of dietary issues. Having said that, my Jewish friend, who had been invited, on numerous Jewish holy days, by her very religious Jewish neighbours and had endured no end of ‘humourous’ attacks on her vegetarian diet, which in fact through the omission of meat/seafood/birds and fish was 100% Kosher. One evening at the dinner table while she was not enjoying the usual banter, she asked them if if would be a problem to them if there was just a little pork in the food. You can imagine, the word itself was quite toxic and they vehemently discarded the very idea. My friend, quietly and gently explained that she felt the same way about substances of meat, fish and chicken in her food. Problem solved.
Why are people vegetarian? Most of us were raised on meat, fish, chicken, eggs and seafood so why do people turn vegetarian?
The three major reason for vegetarianism are:
1. Moral integrity where one feels that the killing of animals, fish and birds and the theft of produce from bees and mammals for consumption is unacceptable especially because if we move a little closer to the inhumane manner in which these creatures are raised and slaughtered, many more of us would be vegetarians.
2. Health issues. There is growing evidence that animal products are not beneficial to health. Even fish, many of which are farmed producing a product that is not as healthy as people would imagine.
3. Spiritual commitments for those that believe in karma where biblical extracts have a more practical meaning such as: “as you sow, so shall you reap”, “though shalt not kill” “I give you every herb bearing seed and that shall be your meat”
To be or not to be a vegetarian is not the issue – tolerance of living choices to create world peace is far more important.