People use the food, diet, and lifestyle related words Vegetarian, Vegan, Plant Based, and Flexitarian a lot these days. When I was growing up these were “new” terms but now, they are spoken like everyone knows what they mean. In this series I explain low impact terms like these, simply, in case they are new to you. I wanted to take some time and explain these food terms. I have done some research on them, but these definitions are mostly what I understand them as and how I use them.
When describing these terms I will speak of them as they pertain to people’s diets, only touching on lifestyle. But many of them can also be used to describe products, foods, and lifestyles, and more.
People who eat a vegetarian diet do not eat any foods that require killing an animal to obtain. Vegetarians no not eat chicken, cow, pork, fish, insects, or any flesh of animals. Vegetarians do eat cheese, milk, eggs, honey, (and more) as well as lots of fruits and vegetables, grains, etc… Vegetarians do not use items that require the killing an animal, like leather and fur*.
Vegans do not eat, wear, or promote in anyway anything that come from animals at all. Vegans do not eat meats, fish, eggs, honey, dairy… Or use any animal products like leather, beeswax, wool, silk, etc… Vegans can be and often are very stringent about making sure they are not exploiting animals in anyway in their lifestyle. Vegans do eat lots of fruits, veggies, grains, and foods created from those things.
From Wikipedia: “A plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products. The use of the phrase has changed over time, and examples can be found of the phrase "plant-based diet" being used to refer to vegan diets, which contain no food from animal sources, to vegetarian diets which include eggs and dairy but no meat, and to diets with varying amounts of animal-based foods, such as semi-vegetarian diets which contain small amounts of meat.”
This is the newest term, entering the dictionary in 2012. This refers to anyone who generally has a meatless diet and/or lifestyle but might eat meat, fish, use leather, etc… depending on circumstance. Flexitarians might eat meat or dairy when going out to eat, or when they really want to try a dish or product, or when someone cooks them something or gives them a animal product present. Flexitarian eating and lifestyle, sometimes called semi vegetarian, is often used as a gateway to be more strictly vegetarian or vegan.
These basic terms have more nuances, but I think this is a good over view for anyone who is learning about these matters. Which diet or lifestyle do you fit in or aspire to?
What other Low impact terms are readers interested in learning about? Please leave your suggestions below!
*Often times vegetarians and vegans will use vintage leather, fur, etc…