Jan 26, 2018
Different Types
Lisa Dorfman

Vegetarianism isn’t a one-size-fits-all designation. People who self-identify as vegetarian have many different dietary profiles. They generally fit into one of these categories:

Vegan. These individuals exclude all meat products, dairy, and eggs. In general, they avoid any products derived from animals, which may include food items such as honey and gelatin. Often they’ll even refuse to wear silk, wool, or leather clothing. Without careful dietary planning, they are at increased risk for deficiencies in vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, creatine, and some essential amino acids.

Fruitarian. Members of this subset of veganism restrict their diet even further, eating only raw or dried fruits and vegetables, seeds, honey, and oil. Of all categories of vegetarians, these people are at highest risk for vitamin, mineral, protein, and essential fat deficiencies.

Lacto-vegetarian. As a rule, lacto-vegetarians abstain from meat but do drink milk and eat dairy products. Accordingly, they have less difficulty meeting their dietary protein, fat, and calcium needs than non-dairy-eating vegetarians. Ovo-lacto-vegetarians are a similar category, including eggs in their diet as well as dairy.

Pesco-vegetarian. These individuals eat fish and other seafood, but no meat. They may or may not include dairy products and eggs in their diet, and they aren’t typically predisposed to any significant nutrient deficiencies.

Flexitarian. This is just what it sounds like–flexitarians are flexible in their food choices, but typically eat meat only occasionally. Some use this term to describe a diet with low or moderate amounts of white meat such as chicken and pork, but no red meat.

Image by Mary Anne Fenley / CDC

Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, aka The Running Nutritionist®, is a leader to industry the public and the press for more than two decades. She is personal nutritionist for hundreds of high school athletes and teams; dozens of professional athletes, including those in the NFL, MLB, PGA, USTA, US Boxing, USA Taekwondo, and was the US Sailing Olympic and Paralympics Team Nutritionist for the 2008 Olympics.

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