Vegan, Vegetarian, Flexitarian, Pescatarian & Macrobiotic DIETS
As a food consultant and nutritionist focusing on plant based diets, I’m delving into the world of all things foodie as I provide a simple low down on the various different types of plant based diets. Maybe you are already following one of them, or maybe you’re considering making a change to the way you approach food in your daily life? Whatever your reasons, I’m here to help you along your journey.
Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines. The term vegan refers to either a person who follows this way of eating, or to the diet itself. The word vegan can be an adjective used to describe a food item, as in, “This curry is vegan“, or, it can be used as a noun, as in, “Vegans like cakes, too.”
Vegans do not eat meat of any kind and also do not eat eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin (as opposed who vegetarians, who typically eat dairy products and eggs). Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that are made using animal products that may not contain animal products in the finished process, such as sugar and some wines. There is some debate as to whether certain foods, such as honey, fit into a vegan diet.
When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians: People who do not eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, insects or animal flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products are lacto-ovo vegetarians (“lacto” comes from the Latin for milk, and “ovo” for egg). This is the most common type of vegetarian.
Lacto-vegetarian is used to describe a type of vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products.
Ovo-vegetarian refers to people who do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian, that is, a vegetarian who eats both eggs and dairy products, is the most common kind of vegetarian.
“Flexitarian” is a term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat. Many people who call themselves “flexitarian” or “semi-vegetarian” have given up red meat for health reasons while others, for environmental reasons, only eat free-range or organic animals and animal products.
Flexitarian is about adding new foods to your diet as opposed to excluding any, which can be extremely beneficial for health. These plant-based foods include lentils, beans, peas, nuts and seeds, all excellent in protein!
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, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed.
The word “pescatarian” is used to describe those who steer clear 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 fully vegetarian diet.