Vegan (and vegetarian) are words that get thrown around a lot without always meaning the same thing. In the strictest sense, a vegan would be someone who doesn’t consume any animal-related products, whereas a vegetarian only abstains from all forms of meat.
If you’re considering a meat-free diet or are simply curious about the different stages and types of vegans, read on for a comprehensive list ranging from mildest to most die-hard.
Stages of veganism and vegetarianism
- Pescetarian: This is a type of diet that completely excludes meat, but still includes fish, eggs, dairy and related products. Most ‘true’ vegans will frown when their diet is compared to this one.
- Lacto-ovo: A step-up, lacto-ovo vegetarians won’t touch meat and fish, but still won’t mind the occasional omelette or glass of milk. Because the majority of processed food contain dairy, eggs or both, many find this the ideal middle ground that doesn’t threaten their lifestyle while also letting them have a conscious diet.
- Regular vegetarian: The ‘standard’ form of vegetarianism excludes meat, fish and eggs, but still allows for dairy and other animal byproducts such as honey.
- Vegan: Here is where things start to get hardcore. Strict vegans won’t touch any animal byproduct like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey and so forth. They’re also extremely opposed to the idea of fur and similar products.
- Raw food vegan: If you’re really looking to go all-natural, you might want to consider going raw. Raw food veganism has been gaining more popularity thanks to stores like Whole Foods, as it focuses only on ‘fresh’ food as it comes from nature – nothing cooked or baked. Some find that this diet has difficulty curbing a person’s appetite, while others praise it for its health benefits.
- Fruitarianism: The most extreme of the bunch, fruitarians don’t even want to consume vegetables as they’re considered to be technically alive. Instead, they base their diet on fruit and certain types of nuts. This is reserved only for those that don’t mind completely turning their dietary habits around and adhering to a very restrictive diet.
Which stage is right for you?
If you’re considering cutting back on animal products, reading the above might confuse you. The best way to go about this is to ask yourself: what can’t I live without?
As an example, some people can’t even give up meat as they consider it the central part of their diet. Others never had a taste for it, and might even enjoy cutting it completely.
If you’re looking for an environmentally-conscious diet while still getting all the nutrients you need, try to land somewhere between lacto-ovo and regular vegan. Lacto-ovo doesn’t include dead flesh, which is the biggest issue for many who get into veganism, but it still offers a well-balanced meal plan that’s easy to maintain. On the other hand, if you see no point in consuming anything from an animal, being a vegan might be right for you – you’ll have to put in a lot more effort into your diet, but the payoff might be worth it, both from an ethical and health-related perspective.