“I’m a level 5 vegan—I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow,” said cartoon character Jesse Grasse on the television series "The Simpsons." It is not uncommon for people to wonder, “What can vegetarians eat?” The truth is people who follow a vegetarian dietary style can eat everything they want. The difference is that people who identify as vegetarians choose not to eat certain things.
Vegetarians have their reasons for choosing their dietary lifestyle whether it is health reasons, a distaste for meats, or a love for animals. If you are deciding what type or kind of vegetarian you want to be, think about what types of food you want to include or avoid. You don’t need to fit into one of these standard vegetarian categories, but understanding them will help you think about your short-term and long-term goals if you choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
01 of 07
You don’t have to be vegetarian to love vegetarian food. The term “flexitarian” was coined to describe semi-vegetarians or those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat.
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03 of 07
When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians. These are people who do not eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish, or animal flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products. The word “lacto” comes from the Latin for milk and “ovo” means egg. Lacto-ovo vegetarians are the most common kind of vegetarian.
04 of 07
Vegans do not eat meat products of any kind including eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin, which comes from animal collagen.
Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that are made using animal products even if there are no animal products in the finished food. For example, some sugars are made with bone char in the bleaching and filtering process. And, some wines have "fining agents"–like milk protein, gelatin, and egg whites–that are used in the processing of wine but are not actual ingredients. There is some debate as to whether certain foods like honey fit into a vegan diet.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
A raw vegan diet consists of unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 F / 46 C. A person who follows a raw vegan diet is also called a “raw foodist.” This food trend is based on the belief that foods cooked above this temperature lose a significant amount of their nutritional value and become harmful to the body.
06 of 07
The macrobiotic diet, revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon radish, and sea vegetables, such as wakame and other seaweeds.
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If you're interested in exploring a healthy vegetarian diet but haven't yet made the leap, check out some tips on how to make the transition to a vegetarian diet.