About 1 million Americans each year are adopting the vegetarian choice for their eating preferences so it is likely that you may know someone who is a vegetarian and possibly even a vegan.
History of Vegetarianism
A vegetarian is an individual who does not eat meat, but eats more than just vegetables. A common misconception is that the root of the word vegetarian refers to vegetables however it possibly refers to vegetus, the Latin word for lively. According to the Vegetarian Society, in 1847 they invented the word because they claimed that their diet that did not involve meat made them feel lively.
Degrees of Vegetarianism
A lacto-ovo vegetarian is someone that does not eat meat but eats both diary products, food items like milk and all of its derivatives like cheese, butter and yogurt, and eggs. The cheese that they eat doesn't have rennet and yogurt that vegetarians eat doesn't have gelatin.
Lacto Vegetarian and Ovo Vegetarian
There are vegetarians who refer to themselves as lacto, lacto is Latin for milk, vegetarians and they drink milk and eat its derivatives. Now ovo is Latin for egg so ovo vegetarians eat eggs but do not drink milk or eat any dairy products.
Simi-vegetarianism, also often referred to pesco/pollo vegetarianism, pescetarianism and pollotariansm, is a diet that is similar to that of a lacto-ovo vegetarian in that they eat eggs and dairy products but the diet allows certain meats but restricts others, most like all mammalian meat. Beef, pork and lamb are examples of the most common mammalian meats. Seafood and fowl are often eaten by simi-vegetarians. Pollo is derived from the Latin word pullus meaning chicken and pesco is derived from the Latin word piscis meaning fish. Thus some who is a pesco/pollo vegetarian is someone who eats fish and chicken, and a pollotarian eats chicken but not fish and a pescetarian eats fish but not chicken.
A flexitarian is a vegetarian that although they prefer to have a lacto-ovo diet they will occasionally make an exception for pragmatic, social or nutritional reasons. Most flexitarians will eat vegetarian dishes at home but when they are a guest in another persons home they may eat meat.
Degrees of a Vegan Diet
A vegan is someone who does not eat anything that comes from an animal, such as meat, eggs and diary products. Usually if a person refers to themselves as a vegan it is unlikely that their eating habits would include anything from an animal because if that was the case they most likely would refer to themselves as a vegetarian.
A fruitarian is someone who ideally has a strict diet of 100% fruits from plants and trees. Most of the time when someone refers to themselves as a fruitarian they have a diet that is about 75% fruits. Botanically speaking there are foods that are commonly called nuts, grains and vegetables that are fruits by definition.
The best way to tell what degree of a vegetarian a person is or if they are a vegan is to ask them.