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The Vegetarian Diet

Vegetarianism is the practice of following a diet based on plant based foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds. Some vegetarian diets include dairy products and eggs, while many others such as vegan do not. Vegetarianism is considered a healthy, viable diet and The American Dietetic Association have found a properly planned vegetarian diet will satisfy the nutritional needs for all stages of life. Large scale university studies have shown vegetarianism to significantly lower risks of cancer, heart disease, and other fatal diseases.

Vegetarianism has a number of different types of diets which will be discussed more below. A vegan diet is a form of vegetarian diet that excludes all animal products, including dairy products, eggs, and honey. A lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but excludes eggs, an ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy, and a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products. A semi-vegetarian diet consists largely of vegetarian foods, but may include fish and sometimes poultry, as well as dairy products and eggs. A pescetarian diet, for example, includes fish but no meat.

Typical Vegetarian Diet

There are three types of typical vegetarian diets which all revolve around the practice of consuming eggs and dairy. Unlike the vegan diet which is practiced by less then 5% of all vegetarians, the typical vegetarian diet incorporates some form of egg or dairy product.

Lacto-ovo Vegetarianism - Lacto-ovo vegetarians are the most common type of vegetarian. A ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet is a diet that excludes beef, pork, poultry, lamb, fish, shellfish or animal of any kind, but includes dairy and egg products. Typically when one refers to themselves as a vegetarian they are considering themselves a lacto-ovo vegetarian. Lacto-ovo vegetarians are often well taken care of in restaurants in both North America and Europe as almost 4% of all Americans are considered a lacto-ovo vegetarian.

Ovo vegetarianism - Unlike lacto-ovo vegetarians, Ovo vegetarianism is a type of vegetarianism which allows for the consumption of eggs (and some other limited dairy products but not milk or diar associated with milk). People who practice ovo vegetarianism are generally refered to as ovo-vegetarians or even eggetarians. Ovo vegetarianism is typically and ethical motivation for excluding dairy and are based on issues with the practices behind their production such as the practice of keeping a cow constantly pregnant in order for her to lactate. Other concerns include the standard practice of separating the mother from her calf and denying the calf its natural source of milk. This contrasts with the practices surrounding egg-laying hens, which produce eggs for human consumption without being fertilized. Ovo-vegetarians prefer free-range eggs produced by uncaged hens.

Lacto vegetarianism - Unlike a ovo-vegetarianism diet, a lacto vegetarian diet is a vegetarian diet which includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and cream, but excludes eggs. Lacto-vegetarianism as a concept and practice was originally based on religious beliefs within the Indian culture. In contrast to the most common type of vegetarian diet being lacto-ovo vegetarianism, the Eastern world including India's most common form of vegetarian diet is the lacto vegetarian diet

Vegan Diet

Veganism is a diet that seeks to exclude the use of any animal for food, clothing, or any other purpose at all. Vegans endeavor not to use or consume animal products of any kind. The most common reasons for becoming a vegan are ethical commitment or moral conviction concerning animal rights, the environment, human health, and spiritual or religious concerns. Of particular concern to many vegans are the practices involved in factory farming and animal testing, and the intensive use of land and other resources for animal farming.

Vegan diets, which are also sometimes called strict or pure vegetarian diets, are a superset of a vegetarian diet. A properly planned vegan diet is healthful and has been found to satisfy nutritional needs, however, a poorly planned vegan diet can be low in levels of needed nutrients and Vegans are therefore encouraged to plan their diet and take dietary supplements as appropriate.

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

The term animal product in the vegan context refers to anything, material or food, derived from animals for human use. In the vegan diet, animal products include meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, honey, fur, wool, and leather. This also includes animal by-products such as gelatin, lanolin, whey, beeswax, casein, isinglass, rennet, and shellac.

Semi-vegetarian Diet

Semi-vegetarianism is a term used to describe the practice of excluding some meat (particularly red meat) from the diet while still consuming limited amounts of poultry, fish, and/or seafood. In many references, a semi-vegetarian is also a flexitarian or "almost vegetarian". The term semi-vegetarian is sometimes also referred to as a diet that excludes "red meat". Most vegetarians who don't eat any form of meat, fish or poultry do not believe in "Semi-Vegetarianism".

Flexitarianism - Flexitarianism is a semi-vegetarian diet focusing on vegetarian food with occasional meat consumption. A self-described flexitarian seeks to decrease meat consumption without eliminating it entirely from his or her diet. There are no guidelines for how much or how little meat one must eat before being classified a flexitarian. Flexitarian is distinguished from polpescetarian, i.e., one who eats only chicken and fish, but does so exclusively.

Pollotarianism - Pollotarianism (or pollo-vegetarianism) is a semi-vegetarian diet in which a person only eats vegetables, fruits, and poultry meat (particularly chicken), but does not consume meat from fish or mammals. Pollotarians tend to include non-flesh animal products such as dairy and eggs in their diet, as well. There are many rationales for maintaining a pollo-vegetarian diet. For some the rationale is ethics: believing that either the treatment, or simply the killing and eating, of mass market "meat" mammals is unethical. The rationalization for eating chickens in this case is usually to include consumption of some sort of a complete protein in their diet, however, complete proteins are available in plant sources such as soy products and quinoa. Some believe that the treatment (specifically the caging) of mass market meat mammals is unethical, and only eat free-range (and sometimes only organic) chickens that are not caged.

Pescetarianism - Pescetarianism, also called pesco-vegetarianism, is the practice of a diet that includes seafood and excludes mammals and birds. In addition to fish or shellfish, a pescetarian diet typically includes some or all of vegetables, fruit, nuts, grains, beans, eggs, and dairy. The Merriam-Webster dictionary dates the origin of the term "pescetarian" to 1993 and defines it to mean: "one whose diet includes fish but no meat."

Raw Food Diet

The raw food diet, also known as raw foodism and rawism, is a lifestyle diet promoting the consumption of un-cooked, un-processed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. The raw food diet is usually associated with raw veganism in which only raw plant foods are eaten, however other raw foodists (people participating in the raw food diet) consume raw meat and other raw animal products. A person who generally eats more the three quarters of raw food is considered a raw foodist. Depending on the type of lifestyle, raw food diets may include a selection of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted whole grains, eggs, and non-pasteurized/non-homogenized dairy products.

The Raw Food Revolution Diet

Raw foodists believe that consumption of uncooked foods encourages weight loss while also preventing and healing many forms of sickness and chronic diseases. Some studies have indicated that some forms of a raw food diets may lead to various health problems, while other studies have shown positive health outcomes. Raw foodism can include any diet of primarily unheated food, or food warmed to a temperature less than 115°F (foods cooked above this temperature have lost much of their nutritional value and are less healthy or even harmful). The most popular raw food diet in North America is the raw vegan diet.
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