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Understanding the Meaning of Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is a dietary practice that has been around for centuries, steadily gaining popularity in modern times for a variety of reasons. Yet, for many people, the term ‘vegetarian’ might still raise a question – What does vegetarian mean? In this article, we delve into the realm of vegetarianism and its interpretation.

Defining Vegetarianism

In the simplest form, a vegetarian is a person who refrains from consuming meat. This typically includes animals such as beef, chicken, fish, and pigs. The term ‘vegetarian’ originates from the Latin word ‘vegetus’, meaning lively or vigorous, reflecting the lifestyle associated with such a diet.

The diet primarily consists of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other plant-derived foods. However, the consumption of animal-based products can vary depending upon the type of vegetarianism one chooses to follow.

Types of Vegetarianism

The umbrella term ‘vegetarian’ encompasses several distinct diets. It can be broken down into categories based on the types of animal-derived products consumed.

1. Lacto-ovo vegetarians: This is the most common form of vegetarianism. Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume dairy products and eggs but abstain from meat, poultry, and fish.

2. Lacto vegetarians: Lacto vegetarians incorporate dairy products into their diets but steer clear of eggs, meat, poultry, and fish.

3. Ovo vegetarians: Ovo vegetarians consume eggs but exclude dairy products, meat, poultry, and fish from their diet.

4. Vegans: A step further than vegetarianism, vegans abstain from consuming any animal-based products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. A vegan lifestyle also often includes avoiding any products made from animals, such as leather, for ethical reasons.

Why Choose Vegetarianism?

Individuals may choose to become vegetarians for several reasons. Health benefits, such as a reduced risk of chronic diseases, are a common motivation. Others adopt vegetarianism for ethical reasons, opposing animal slaughter or the environmental impact of animal agriculture. Some may follow this diet for religious beliefs, or simply for a preference for plant-based foods.


To sum it up, being vegetarian means eschewing the consumption of meat and sticking to a plant-based diet. However, whether an individual decides to consume dairy or eggs comes down to the type of vegetarianism they align themselves with. Regardless of the chosen path, vegetarianism represents a conscious decision towards a particular dietary lifestyle. As with any diet, it’s essential that it’s balanced to ensure all nutritional needs are met.