Different Names for Vegetarians

Daughter, motivated by health and moral issues, recently decided to go vegetarian.  She’s busy pinning recipes, and now I have things like lentils and black rice in my pantry.  I’m all for healthy eating and am happy to add more plant-based recipes to our dining repertoire.  Hubby and I just want to make sure she’s getting all the nutrients she needs, which prompted research, which resulted in a discovery of some very interesting words to describe the many different types of vegetarians.

Yes, different types.  At least seven.  The Word Nerd is here to explain them to you.

wondrous memeIf you like learning about interesting words, join the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme at Bermuda Onion.  Bloggers post about new and interesting words, and you can learn along with them.

Types of Vegetarians

Turns out, there are different “levels” of vegetarians, and the names for each level describe what foods each type consumes.  With a little knowledge of word roots, these titles make good sense.  So, here we go, from “most strict” to “least strict”.

  • Vegans do not use or consume any animal products or by-products.  This includes, obviously, meat and fish, but also dairy, eggs, honey, silk, leather, or wool.
  • Lacto-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or eggs, but they do eat dairy.  “Lacto” usually describes something having to do with milk.
  • Ovo-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or dairy, but they do consume eggs.  “Ovo” means egg.
  • Lacto-Ovo vegetarians do not eat meat or fish, but they do consume eggs and dairy.  In other words, they, like Phoebe from Friends, do not eat “anything with a face”.  Daughter currently subscribes to this category of diet.
  • Pescaterians do not eat meat or fowl but will eat fish.  This diet isn’t technically vegetarian; along with the next two categories, it is considered “semi-vegetarian.” Pesce is the Italian word for fish; piscis means fish in Latin.
  • Pollotarians consume poultry and fowl but not red or white meat or fish.  “Pollo” is the Spanish word for chicken.
  • Flexitarians eat mostly plant-based foods but occasionally consume meat, fish, or fowl.  It’s a flexible approach to a vegetarian diet.  I could fit in this category.
This is quinoa, a complete protein grain that is a lovely addition to any vegetarian diet.
This is quinoa, a complete protein grain that is a lovely addition to any vegetarian diet.

Other Vegetarian Word Nerd Facts

  • The term vegetarian was first coined in 1839.  “Fruititarian” turned up in 1893.
  • In 1944, vegetarians who consume no animal or dairy products started calling themselves “vegans”.

Thanks to Merriam-Webster and Vegetarian Nation for information.

Word Nerd Workout

Did you know about these differences between vegetarians?  Can you share any other interesting “diet inspired” words?

Thanks for adding to the discussion!

Julia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia Tomiak
I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and Wordsmithstudio.org.

15 Comments

  1. Hi Julia,

    I would probably place myself, along with you, in the ‘Flexitarian’ camp, with possibly a little ‘pollotarianism’ thrown in for good measure!

    Seriously, I had no idea that there were so many strains of vegetarianism and whilst we tend to stick to chicken or fish on a regular basis, I couldn’t give up red meat altogether. Lamb and beef are rare and occasional treats, especially if we are eating out. I do admit that I am not too keen on pork, so that one could definitely come off my list.

    Good Luck with the new recipe regime. Are you all going to be eating the same thing, or are you now having to prepare separate meals for your daughter?

    Yvonne 🙂

    1. I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes with my daughter. Last night she made vegetarian jambalaya and got rave reviews. Next up, barbeque lentils. I can cut back on meat but will probably never give it up completely. My motivation is health, not moral principle.

    2. I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes with my daughter. Last night she made vegetarian jambalaya and got rave reviews. Next up, barbeque lentils. I can cut back on meat but will probably never give it up completely. My motivation is health, not moral principle.

  2. I was briefly a lacto-ovo vegetarian as a teenager, but it didn’t last long. My daughter followed suit for one summer, and then she decided she missed chicken.

    Pollotarian is completely new to me!

    1. I’ve heard from several people now who tried various forms of vegetarianism during their teens. I figure it’s better to let daughter try it than to make a big deal out of it. We’re eating a better variety of food these days because of her!!

  3. I’m very surprised that “fruitarian” goes back so far. I always thought it came from the movie Notting Hill: “I”m a fruitarian…we believe that fruits and vegetables have feeling so we think cooking is cruel. We only eat things that have actually fallen off a tree or bush – that are, in fact, dead already.” 😀 Good luck to your daughter. I’m ovo-vegetarian by day and have meat with my family several nights a week. Quinoa has been the best discovery. You can have it slightly sweet as hot cereal, or savory with roasted/sauteed vegetables, or cold in a salad. It’s wonderfully filling and high in protein. Cook a batch and it lasts several days in the fridge.

    1. I LOVE quinoa – we’re finding all kinds of great recipes for it. I’d say my diet matches yours… my boys aren’t willing to give up their meat, and although I can live with less, I don’t think I’ll ever give it up all together.

  4. I didn’t know all seven forms of vegetarians. This was very interesting. My husband and I – meat eaters all our lives – have been trying to eat meat-free two or three times a week. I guess we could call ourselves flexitarians, but we’re most likely flexivores.

  5. I did know there are specific types of vegetarians, specifically vegan and lacto-ovo-vegeterian. The other terms are new to me, but they do make sense now that you’ve explained them.

  6. Good luck to you all – it’s not easy subscribing to a new way of eating. I’m glad she’s eating eggs and dairy. The kids I speak with about good eating sometimes have trouble with energy bc they aren’t eating enough calories and are missing important nutrients, specifically b12 (more of an issue with teen girls). I’m interested to see how it goes!

    1. Her father the physician was very worried about that too. We’re encouraging her to eat a variety – and she’s pretty good about it. We’ve also added a teen formula mulit-vitamin.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *