Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What is a Vegetarian and are there various types?

When most people hear the term "Vegetarian" it conjures up the idea of people who do not eat meat.  Well, reality has a little more to it.  I'll start with listing all the different types and a little about them.  Let's begin with the  easiest to follow through to the hardest.

Flexitarians (Semi-Vegetarian) are people who limit their eating of certain meats.  The most common in this group are ones who don't eat red meat (beef, pork, lamb, etc).  This group usually still eats chicken and fish.  Catholics, on their fish only Fridays, or people who eat fish but not the chicken (fowl) are called "Pescatarian."  The purest "Vegetarians" don't think of this group as really being "True" vegetarians.

Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians (Vegetarian) are the most common type of vegetarians today.  This group does not eat any animals (beef, pork, lamb, fowl, fish, etc.) but may eat eggs and dairy.  There are even subsets in this group.  Ovo-Vegetarian people don't eat dairy but do eat eggs.  Lacto-Vegetarian will eat dairy but not eggs.  We normally just refer to all of these people as "Vegetarian" and don't add the first part of the category name.

Vegans are much stricter in that they don't eat any animal products at all.  This includes no honey as well as the eggs and dairy products.

Raw/Living Foodists are people that only eat raw food.  They will not eat anything that has had a cooking process of any kind.

Fruitarians will only eat fruit, fruit-like vegetables (such as tomatoes, etc.) and some will eat nuts and seeds.

These are the basic 5 groups that fall under the "Vegetarian" label.

There is something else about these people that most of us meat eaters don't understand.  They don't eat food that has been cooked with meat items either.  A few examples would be: That roast beef dinner with all the vegetables cooked with it-they can't eat those vegetables.  Soup made with chicken broth.  The egg fried in the pan that just cooked the bacon even if you wiped it out.  In fact, some would not use that pan at all even if it had been washed.  Because it had been used for meat products.  That group is fairly small but you do need to take that into consideration when having someone from these groups over for a meal.  The individual coming has the responsibility to inform you of their eating restrictions when invited to share food with you.  But it is a two-way street for both sides to communicate and respect each other's views and needs.

One more thing I'd like to point out to everyone is that we are all some type of vegetarian on occasion.  There is the national "Meatless Mondays" that many of us follow or maybe it is another day during the week.  Some will do it several days a week.  Many do it without even thinking about the fact that they just had a vegetarian day.  It really is not a bad idea to follow once and awhile, but I'm still a meat & potato guy most of the time.

I hope this has been helpful to you.  This blog today didn't touch on the health side of the issue.  I'll leave that up to you to check out.  Tomorrow, I'll touch base on proteins for these groups with "Tofu" being the main one.  Friday's recipe is a vegetarian pasta dish I'm sure you will enjoy.

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