Looking for unraveling the concept of vegetarianism? Read this

Publish DateSep 30, 2021

Vegetarianism is the theory of nourishing the body with plant-based diets such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and nuts and abstaining from animal-derived food. It is a lifestyle often adopted in harmony with spiritual, environmental, and nutritional practices.

Vegetarian diets might have gained prominence over the last decades, but vegetarianism has existed for centuries and dates back to the ancient Greek traditions of the 6th century BCE.  

Most of us know Pythagoras for his famous Pythagoras theorem – a concept learned at school. But one might wonder how many are aware that this Greek philosopher was hailed as the Father of Vegetarianism in ancient Greece, where he advocated a spiritually uplifting meatless diet.

Pythagoreans — followers of the Greek philosopher Pythagoras – followed a meatless diet referred to as the 'Pythagorean diet' before the term 'vegetarian' was coined in 1847.

Apart from Pythagoras, many other influential figures worldwide have advocated the adoption of vegetarianism – plant-based diets – in various parts of the world during different periods. 

The urge to try a vegetarian lifestyle can be overwhelming. In Asia, the concept of vegetarianism coexists with cultural beliefs. For instance, religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism profess a vegetarian lifestyle.

In contemporary times, celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Ellen DeGeneres are some of the influential figures who don’t eat animal-based products.

So, yes, it can be daunting if you are new and want to embark on this journey. 

As the inclination towards plant-based diets continues to grow, the umbrella term vegetarianism now includes various forms. Let's look at the six types of vegetarian diets:

Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet

This plant-based diet excludes meat or fish and includes dairy products such as eggs and milk. "Lacto" and "ovo," derived from Latin words lac and ovum, refer to cow’s milk or dairy products and egg.

Thus, following this diet means consuming milk, cheese, egg, yogurt, ice cream, and other dairy products.

For some, religious or cultural reasons drive the choice of this specific diet. For example, this diet is quite popular in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Lacto-vegetarian diet

This diet suits people who even avoid eggs – the "ovo" is missing here.

People following this diet mainly consume plant-based foods and dairy products and exclude all meats – fish, chicken, mutton, beef – and eggs.

Ovo-vegetarian diet

As the name suggests, this plant-based diet includes eggs and abstains from milk products.

Along with excluding meat and fish, this diet excludes dairy products such as milk, cheese, egg, yogurt, ice cream, except for eggs.

Vegan diet

The vegan diet excludes any animal-derived products such as meats and fish, dairy products, and eggs. It is solely plant-based.

Apart from fruits and vegetables, this diet includes plenty of legumes, whole grains, and nuts.

Raw Vegan

This diet is the result of the amalgamation of veganism and raw foodism. This subset of a vegan diet is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal-derived products and proclaims consumption of uncooked food. 

Rather than cooking, various methods — soaking, blending, juicing, dehydrating, and germinating — helps in elevating the taste and diversify options.

The inclusion of dehydrated food such as crackers and cereals is standard in this diet.

Flexitarian diet

Flexitarian is the union of two words: flexible and vegetarian

Introduced by dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner in her 2009 book, this diet provides flexibility to those looking for an occasional inclusion of meat in their diet.

The primary focus is on plant-based food; however, meat products are consumed in moderation.

Moving towards a completely vegetarian diet can be daunting, and diets such as this give one the option to explore the various kinds.

Author: Somrita Ganchoudhuri


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