There are seven different forms of vegetarianism and each one has its own set of parameters.
The vegan diet is by far the strictest and excludes all animal products and their byproducts.
- Vegans do not consume any animal products, including, red meat, white meat (pork), fish, seafood, and poultry.
- They also exclude any foods derived from or made with animal products or byproducts, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, mayonnaise, butter, honey, gelatin, and eggs.
- Vegans also do not use any non-food products made from animals, such as beeswax, cosmetics, supplements, silk, leather, or wool.
Like any vegetarian diet, it is hoped that the convert will receive benefits such as weight loss, and the reduction of the risk of diabetes and heart disease, but for vegans it is more about following a philosophy rather than a diet.
According to the American Vegan Association, “veganism is compassion in action.” It goes beyond a diet; it is a lifestyle and a philosophy. Veganism follows a “Reverence for Life” that recognizes the rights of all living creatures and nonviolence towards animals and the Earth. They eat solely from the plant world and follow a generally healthy lifestyle and harmonious living. Animal rights groups are strong advocates of this type of philosophy, and many follow a vegan diet.
The vegan diet includes all plant foods, such as grains, fruit, nuts, and legumes. Soy products such as tofu, soymilk, and veggie burgers are commonly eaten. Soy can be a staple of the diet because it is a complete protein unlike other vegetable protein foods.
Other substitutes for meat products include almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, and rice milk. Cheese substitutes include nutritional yeast, as well as products made from soy and tapioca. There are even egg substitutes such as silken tofu.
Lacto Vegetarian Diet
The lacto vegetarian diet excludes meat of all kind, but does allow dairy, like milk and cheese. This type of diet is popular among religious groups such as Hindus and Buddhists, and many Westerners.
The lacto vegetarian does not consume eggs because it contains future life and meat is avoided since its consumption would involve the taking of a life.
The consumption of dairy products helps the lacto vegetarian to meet his/her calcium requirements, which can be more difficult in the vegan diet. Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are common milk products included in the lacto-vegetarian diet.
Ovo Vegetarian Diet
Ovo-vegetarians do not eat red or white meat, fish, poultry, seafood or dairy, but they do include eggs in their diet.
Lacto-ovo Vegetarian Diet
This form of vegetarianism excludes animal foods with the exception of eggs and milk. Like the lacto vegetarian, the lacto-ovo vegetarian has the advantage over more strict vegetarians of accessibility to calcium and zinc. This plan is popular among religious groups who eschew meat. Many seventh-day Adventists are followers of this diet.
This form of “lax” vegetarianism excludes red meat, pork, and poultry, but does allow the consumption of fish and seafood. This diet is often referred to as “semi-vegetarian.” Some pescatarians consume dairy and some do not.
Another form of semi-vegetarianism, the Pollotarian diet excludes red meat, fish, and seafood but does allow the consumption of poultry and fowl.
Not truly, a vegetarian plan, the flexitarian for the most part follows a plant-based eating diet, with meat, fish, and/or chicken consumed only on occasion.