Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Types of Vegetarianism: Sorting out the Distinctions

(c) Toni Boyko
Check Those Labels!
 Previously we have talked here on Organic Journey Online about why someone may want to become a vegetarian. It is important to distinguish, since many people do not know, the differences between the different types of vegetarianism when considering changing your diet. I will lay out for you the 3 most common types, however, there are several more that people often follow.

1) Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian:
This is typically what people think of when they hear the word "vegetarian". This diet refers to someone who excludes all forms of animal meat but still consumes dairy and eggs. These vegetarians may be for any reason ranging from health concerns to concern for animal rights.

2) Lacto-Vegetarian:
"Lacto" means dairy, therefore, this diet excludes all meat forms and eggs, however, continues to consume dairy products.

3) Ovo-Vegetarian:
"Ovo" in this case meaning egg, this diet excludes all meat forms and diary, and includes eggs.

3) Vegan:
Most people are familiar with the term vegan, but may not entirely understand it. A vegan diet excludes any animal byproducts, including dairy, eggs, and meat. A vegan diet is the most difficult diet to maintain. A vegan is typically concerned mostly with the welfare of animals in addition to environmental concerns.

 There are many other types of vegetarianism that some strict vegetarians do not think qualify as true vegetarians including "pescatarian" which is a diet that excludes all forms of meat except fish. And "flexitarian" is someone who follows a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and eats meat occasionally. Additionally there are people who follow vegetarian diets for religious or spiritual reasons.

 When considering the types of vegetarianism it is also important to think about the many types of food you may consume on a regular basis that may actually not be vegetarian. For instance, to my complete astonishment, 2 months into my vegetarian diet, my good friend Lacee informed me about the ingredients in gelatin. I was entirely unaware that gelatin was made from animal tissues, and therefore can never be vegetarian. However, luckily there are alternatives, but you would be surprised how many foods gelatin is in!

 Other ingredients you may be surprised to find are not vegetarian include, vitamin D, often disguised as vitamin D-3, which is always derived from an animal source. Alternatives for this may be vitamins from plant and mineral sources or sunlight exposure. Sunlight is my favorite alternative!

(c) Toni Boyko
Even Organic Wines
Might Not Be Vegetarian
 Another upsetting non-vegetarian revelation, often used as an ingredient, is in that tasty glass I enjoy on occasion; yes folks, wine. A huge upset I assure you. Wineries often use animal-derived products to remove certain particles during the wine-making process. Some of these common products used are suitable for the vegetarian diet, however, none would be acceptable for the vegan diet. The only concern remains that there is no way to be sure what product is used because wineries are not required to put it on their label. 

Don't get discouraged just yet! There are wines made that do not use any animal-derived ingredients during fermentation. For some tips on how to buy wine suitable for your diet, check out the Vegan Wine Guide.

 One last ingredient worth mentioning is one that you would have to search labels for to know if it was in your food, but it is definitely worth it. I am talking about the ingredient L-Cysteine, a common flavor enhancer in many types of foods. L-Cysteine is derived from, duck feathers, pig bristles and hooves, and, get this--human hair. Take a minute and soak that in. Ten years ago the most common source of L-Cysteine was human hair; today it is derived from duck feathers about 80% of the time. This is one ingredient I'll go searching for on labels. For further information, visit The Vegetarian Resource Group.

 Many foods can trick you into appearing vegetarian. Watching labels is one the most difficult parts of changing your diet, but it is also a great opportunity to learn more about nutrition and find out what you are eating is healthy for you and what's not. These are just a few things I wanted to share with you that I found to be non-vegetarian but please share any others that you may know of. I am always interested in learning more about vegetarianism and veganism. Share your comments here and at our fanpage on Facebook. You might even drop me a Tweet!

1 comment:

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