The Vegetarian Spectrum: classification of plant-based diets
The most widely accepted definition of a vegetarian is a person who doesn’t eat meat of any kind – including fish and poultry. Overall, it is a more humane diet to follow as no animals are harmed in the process.Studies have also shown that long term vegetarians have a lower body weight, better cholesterol levels ,and are at a much lower risk of developing cancer, diabetes ,and heart disease. However, there are different kinds of vegetarians having their own inclusions and exclusions. If you are considering taking the plunge and giving up meat entirely, picking the right kind of vegetarian diet may be confusing for you. Here’s a list of vegetarian diets that you can try.
People who don’t consume animal meat or animal products.
Veganism is a type of vegetarianism, where the adherents to the diet do not consume animal meat or animals products such as eggs, dairy ,and honey. Due to the diet’s highly restrictive nature, people start with other types of vegetarianism and eventually become vegan. This diet requires supplementation of certain vitamins and minerals.
Raw Veganism or Raw Foods Diet:
People who consume raw and uncooked food.
This adaptation of vegetarianism consists mainly of a diet of raw and uncooked foods. Hence their diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds ,and nuts that can be consumed with minimal or no processing or cooking prior to consumption.
People who consume fruits, seeds and nuts which are gathered without harming the plants.
This diet permits only the consumption of fruit, seeds, nuts, and other plant products that can be gathered without harming the plant. This diet also requires adequate nutritional supplementation of certain minerals and vitamins.
Yogic or Sattvic diet:
This is primarily a plant based diet which allows dairy products and honey, but excludes the consumption of durian, onions, leeks, mushrooms, fermented foods, alcohol as well as certain other products like chocolate, coffee, tea and strong spices.
People who avoid animal meat but consume dairy products.
As the name suggests, lacto vegetarians avoid animal meat but allow the consumption of dairy products such as milk, cheese ,and yoghurt. One advantage of this diet is the reduced risk of developing a calcium deficiency, as in the other diets.
People who avoid animal meat and dairy products but consume egg and egg products.
Ovo Vegetarians on the other hand, avoid animal meat and dairy products but do consume egg and egg products. This diet has the inclusion of proteins from eggs.
People who avoid animal meat but consume dairy and egg products.
People following this diet do not consume meat of any kind, but eat both dairy and egg products. Most people fall into this category of vegetarianism, as it is a relatively easy diet to follow with adequate calcium and protein intake.
There are some other diets that are not technically considered ‘vegetarian’ and stretch the meaning of the word, but they deserve an honorary mention as well!
Flexitarian or Semi-Vegetarian:
This is essentially a plant based diet with the inclusion of an occasional meat item on their menu. Overall, this diet has a limited meat intake. This is followed by people who are reducing their meat consumption or are in the process of transitioning to vegetarianism.
These individuals do not eat white meat, red meat or any kind of fowl. Their meat consumption is restricted to seafood and fish. The rest of their diet is plant based.
It is similar to the pescetarian diet. This flexitarian type of pollotarian diet restricts meat consumption to poultry and fowl only. They do not consume seafood or red meat of any kind.
Starting out as a flexitarian and gradually transitioning to vegetarian is easier. Avoiding dairy products and eggs to become a vegan is harder and requires greater commitment, since lot of foods contain dairy and eggs as ingredients. Choose wisely, stick to it ,and reap the benefits of a plant based diet.