Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, pescatarian, ovo-friggin’-tarian. What the heck?!
You may by now have noticed that not only do vegetarians come in different shapes and sizes, but also that the term vegetarian has many branches to it. It is a broad term, used by the unenlightened to describe anyone who doesn’t consume flesh. However, the diet of the flora family is much more intricate, and you can’t simply assume that someone who sustains from eating meat is simply “vegetarian”.
Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the more common types of herbivore-sapien species you may encounter:
A Person who does not eat meat or fish, and in some cases other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.
These guys are not ready to forego their cheese platter and double cream yoghurt on muesli. Animal flesh is off the table, but their by-products can still be found on the menu.
They abstain from eating any meat and dairy but will consume eggs. In the vegan world one will often find a mass debate on whether it is considered moral to eat eggs, with some saying that if you rear the chickens yourself or get them from Auntie Doris next door who has her own little chicken coup, you are not harming the animals in any way. Vegans will disagree, telling you that you are still exploiting the mama chickens.
Donald Watson coined the term “vegan” in 1944 to describe someone who fully abstains from all animal products for ethical reasons. A “vegan diet” completely eliminates animal-derived foods of all kinds, all of the time. Vegans will tell you that it is not a diet, but a lifestyle – and if you are an authentic vegan, there is no coming back from it.
The following diets do not technically fall under the term herbivorous, but they still deserve a special mention:
Many people find that this way of eating serves as a “bridge” between moving from omni- to herbivore. They follow an otherwise normal vegetarian diet, with the exception that they will also incorporate seafood.
This is a gentle way to experiment with reducing animal consumption. It can simply start with meatless Monday and smaller portions of meat, perhaps escalating to meat free weeks but still hitting the braai over weekends.
Plant-based or plant-forward eating focuses on foods primarily derived from plants. This not only includes fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. This group of people does not fit into either the vegetarian, or the vegan category, and still eats meat and diary.
I trust that this brought some insight, and perhaps sparked some curiosity into ways of approaching this growing Green Gastronomy!