21 March 2011

Meatless Monday inspiration: The top 12 types of vegetarianism

Nothing in our world is cut-and-dry, so why should vegetarianism be any different? But wait a minute…we’re talking about a plant-based diet, plain and simple. How many permutations could there possibly be? In actuality, more than you might imagine. This distinctive dietary program reflects the unique nutritional, environmental and ethical goals of millions upon millions of people, so when you look at it that way, it’s not surprising that there are different shades of veg.

For anyone who's wondered just how many ways they can go veg, here's a one-stop, 101 guide. Hang on while we take a ride down the wild veggie side of life:


One who abstains from the flesh of any once living creature, including cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish, etc. Conventional vegetarians do, however, consume dairy products, eggs, honey and occasionally even gelatin and sugar.


An individual who has one foot planted firmly in the vegetarian lifestyle, eating a plant-heavy diet occasionally augmented with minor amounts of meat. Those keen on transitioning into a meat-free diet often take this route, as do green-minded people who recognize that their plant-centric menu is easier on the planet, better for their health and even budget-friendly, to boot.


While plant-based fare makes up the majority of this diet plan, the only type of animal-derived products that are deemed acceptable include milk-based items like cheese, butter and yogurt (as long as they are rennet and gelatin-free). Eggs, on the other hand, are out of the question.

Lacto-Ovo/Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian

Animal flesh is unacceptable in this type of diet, but edibles derived from dairy (lacto) and egg (ovo) products are fine and dandy.


Also regarded unofficially as an ‘eggetarian,’ an individual who subscribes to this type of edible regimen goes heavy on the plants but eschews all other animal-based products apart from eggs.


People in this category embrace a plant-centric diet along with seafood and dairy products such as milk, cheese and eggs. This meal plan is often regarded as a stepping stone along the way to becoming a straight-up vegetarian.

Pollo-Vegetarian/Pesco-Pollo Vegetarian

Embracing a diet free of all red meat, this type of eater still, however, occasionally dines on animal products such as eggs and other dairy products as well as chicken, fish or both.


This dietary plan focuses entirely on 100% plant-based fare with absolutely no animal-derived products, including meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk, yogurt, eggs, honey or gelatin. Additionally, strict vegans decline the use of animal-derived products for clothing or personal reasons, meaning no silk, wool, leather or bird feathers…not even for decorating.


Of Japanese origin, the literal translation of the Greek words ‘macro’ and ‘bios’ is great life, describing a dietary plan that facilitates longevity and robust health through the consumption of locally-grown, plant-based whole foods along with minor amounts of fish. By applying the concept of yin and yang to each meal, the diner is believed to be endowed with a Zen-like spirituality that infuses every aspect of their lives.

Macrobiotic Vegan

As with the description above, a person who embraces this particular diet plan dines primarily on various types of yin and yang vegetables as well as lightly cooked grains, with no animal derived food products whatsoever.


Among the healthiest albeit restrictive diets out there, followers obtain at least ¾ of their calories from living foods such as fresh/dried/juiced fruit and vegetables, beans, nuts and grains. Animal derived foods are entirely excluded. This program is quite unique from the others in that in order to ensure that food retains vital enzymes, the large majority of it cannot be heated above 116 degrees Fahrenheit.


Considered to be one of the most extreme diets in the vegetarian category, proponents of this edible lifestyle eschew animal products of all kinds as well as vegetables, instead subsisting on raw versions of fresh fruit, grains, seeds and nuts. Modeled after the bible’s account of humanity’s original diet, fruitarians are keen on consuming edibles that do no harm to the planet, meaning that they are inclined to dine on fallen fruit rather than anything that has intentionally been plucked from the tree, vine or bush.

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
Elizah Leigh's master's degree in education combined with her passion for the written word and deep-seated interest in environmental issues has proven to be the ideal trifecta for her present status as a green journalist. Currently commissioned to write a reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/leff