A vegetarian is usually defined as someone who doesn’t eat meat. But someone who is vegetarian could conceivably eat dairy products such as milk, eggs and cheese. A ovo-lacto vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, fish or poultry, but does, in fact, consume eggs, milk and cheese. Likewise, a lacto vegetarian consumes milk and cheese products, but won’t consume egg products.
Many people think of vegetarians as homogeneous group that simply doesn’t eat any kind of meat. Frankly, it’s just not the case here. There’s different categories of vegetarians, as diverse as the reasons for going vegetarian in the first place.
Within the vegetarian community, there’s an array of opinions, differences, preferences and ethics. Fruitarians, for example, will only eat fruit. Their rationale is that fruits, including tomatoes, are self-perpetuating and do not need to be planted in order to generate the food which they source. This type of vegetarians think about this as a way of eating what is most in balance and harmony with the earth, the most natural; taking what nature offers.
A vegan is someone who does not consume any kind of animal product or by-product, including dairy food (and dairy by-products). Vegans, strictly eat only vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and legumes. They also refrain from using animal products, such as leather, silk and wool. Most strict and sincere vegans will also not consume white or refined sugar because it’s mostly processed and filtered with charred animal bones (which makes the sugar white).
The more restrictive you choose to be with your diet, most times, the more educated you are required to become to be about what you’re putting into your body. This results in a positive realization about getting all the necessary proteins and vitamins that you require to maintain optimal nutrition, muscle and heart health.
All of the above will eat any cooked vegetables, fruits and legumes. There is also a growing movement towards eating only raw or living foods. This diet is based on the assumption that cooking food tend to process most of the nutrients out of it. In order to get all of the full nutritional value, vitamins and amino acids from food, it’s best consumed raw, or juiced. If cooked at all, it ought to only be cooked to slightly over 100 degrees, so the nutrients are still retained.
Whichever you choose, it’s a good idea to be keenly aware of what you’re putting into your body; being aware of the ethical and nutritional implications. A healthy diet always consists of an array of color and variation is important. Be sure to include proteins, antioxidants, simple carbohydrates. When in doubt, it’s always best to do further research, find a local nutritionist, or health professional.