A little blog today, because I feel even within the medical world people do not understand this. I was at a Christmas party with a room of over 200 doctors last night, and many did not know the differences. (Gasp!) Suffice it to say there is a significant amount of incorrect or stereotypical information out there so here goes.
Vegetarianism is simple, actually, they just dont eat meat. Period. No beef, pork, poultry, eggs, fish, or anything with a mother. Some do it for health, some do it because they dont like meat, and some for the love of animals. For the most part vegetarians are healthy, however the two are not synonymous. I have seen obese vegetarians. Really? Yes. You can eat lots of calories dense foods like rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, butter, cheese, cookies, pastries. Again, just no meat. Note that I did not say vegetarians can only eat vegetables. I hear it all the time. Uhh only vegetables, “so boring,” usually with a big mac in hand. Vegetarian does not mean only vegetables.
Pescetarians. Similar to vegetarians, but add fish and shellfish. Traditionally an Eastern diet, see Japan, China, etc. Where fish consumption is much greater than other meats.
Vegans. This is what most people think of when they hear “vegetarian.” But that assumption is not correct. It is not a nickname or a contraction for vegetarian. Vegan means nothing from animals. No meat, cheese, saturated fats, oils, eggs, seafood, or even by products. As an example, did you know jello is made from animal bones and hooves? Same goes for marshmallows. And some ice cream flavorings from beaver glands. Aka castoreum. Sound gross? You probably ate some last time you had ice cream. Seriously. My point is being vegan is very, very difficult, and is an extreme relative of vegetarianism. So please do not use them interchangeably.
Also note that none of these diets excludes junk food or things like corn syrup, or food additives or colors. Which is why you can still be unhealthy if you choose to. Avoiding additives like this is a healthy thing to do, and an organic thing to do, but it is independent of above diet types. In fact, organic diets are very healthy, but focus more on natural products, but does not necessarily exclude meats, fish, cheese etc.
So I hope youve learned something today. At the next cocktail party for work, you wont make a gaffe. Have a great day, all!