Approximately four percent of the American population is vegetarian according to the Vegetarian Times. That is nearly eight million people in the United States. In Ireland, about 4-7 percent of the population is vegetarian according to the Irish Vegetarian Society. With so many of Irish American women and men looking to find healthier ways of cooking and eating, vegetarian restaurants and eateries are popping up in both countries. People are looking for definitions of exactly what is vegetarianism. They are looking for recipes and places to eat that offer more than just pasta primavera.
Not everyone is a true vegetarian; there are varying degrees of vegetarianism.Understanding the different kinds of vegetarians depends on what they eat. The definition of a vegetarian that is most widely accepted is a person who eats no meat, fish, or poultry. A vegetarian consistently avoids all flesh foods, as well as byproducts of meat, fish, and poultry. Of course, vegetarian diets vary in the extent to which they exclude animal products.
Semi-vegetarian: Someone who’s cutting back on their intake of meat, in general. “Flexitarian” also describes those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat.
- A pollo vegetarian avoids red meat and fish, but eats chicken. A pesco pollo vegetarian avoids red meat but eats chicken and fish. These terms stretch the true definition of a vegetarian, and only the term semi-vegetarian is actually used with much frequency.
- Pescatarian is occasionally used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. Although the word is not commonly used, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping-stone to a full vegetarian diet.
Lacto ovo vegetarian: A lacto ovo vegetarian diet excludes meat, fish, and poultry but includes dairy products and eggs. Most vegetarians in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe fall into this category. Lacto ovo vegetarians eat such foods as cheese, ice cream, yogurt, milk, and eggs, as well as foods made with these ingredients.
Lacto vegetarian: A lacto vegetarian diet excludes meat, fish, and poultry, as well as eggs and any foods containing eggs. A lacto vegetarian however, would eat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Vegan: Technically, the term vegan refers to more than just the diet alone. A vegan is a vegetarian who avoids eating or using all animal products, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, any foods containing by-products of these ingredients, wool, silk, leather, and any nonfood items made with animal byproducts. Some vegans avoid honey.
One adaptation of a vegetarian diet is a raw foods diet, in which adherents eat a diet that consists primarily of uncooked foods. The fruitarian diet consists only of fruits; vegetables botanically classified as fruits, such as tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and avocados, as well as seeds and nuts.
Raw food diet: A raw vegan diet consists of unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). “Raw foodists” believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body.
Macrobiotic: The macrobiotic diet, revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed.