7 Types of Vegetarianism and Their Environmental and Health Benefits | Care2 Causes

By Catherine Gill | March 28, 2015

Although the word vegetarian was coined in the year 1839, and used thereafter as a term referring to a primarily plant-based eater, this particular lifestyle and diet choice has been in existence since practically the beginning of time. In fact, famous vegetarians who lived before then include Confucius (551- 479 BCE), Plato (428- 348 BCE), Leonardo da Vinci (1452- 1519) and Henry David Thoreau (1817- 1862), just to name a very few.

Presently, as it was in the early stages of humankind, there are all sorts of interpretations of what a vegetarian is, as well as assorted names and categories for each type of plant-based eater. Some people believe that vegans, those who do not consume or use animal products whatsoever, are showing the ultimate kindness to animals and the environment. While others feel that pollotarians and even flexitarians, which are both newer terms for two different classes of semi-vegetarians, are doing a great service to their health whilst offering some benefit to the animals and the planet.

Regardless, there are still a sizable many who desire clarity on the issue. Read on for the unequivocal descriptions of each variety of vegetarian, and what impact adopting each type has on their own health, on the animals and on the ecosystem.

The Vegan

A person who practices eating a vegan diet does not ingest animal products or animal by-products. If a person is also living a vegan lifestyle as a whole, one would not use any products that contain or were tested on animals. A vegan does not consume any type of meat, dairy product or other animal ingredients, including honey, gelatin, rennet or albumin. They also avoid sugars that were processed using animal bone char, for example.

Impacts and Benefits: Studies indicate that vegans save approximately 200 animals per year, due to their diet and lifestyle choices. Statistics also show that vegans are healthier than people who include animal products into their diet; cardiac failures and cancer deaths are extremely low among vegan people. Being vegan also has a major positive impact on the environment: it saves water, helps reverse land degradation, lessens pollution and more.

The Lacto Vegetarian

Someone who is a lacto vegetarian does not eat red or white meats, fish, poultry, fowl or eggs, but they do use dairy products. Some animal products that a lacto vegetarian will allow into their diet and lifestyle are cheese, cow’s milk and yogurt. While this type of vegetarian will consume the dairy product of the animal, they will not eat the actual animal itself.

Impacts and Benefits: A lacto vegetarian can reap the health benefits from a meatless diet, including low blood pressure and lower risk of certain diseases, however they are still consuming cholesterol in their dairy products. By not consuming animals, they are saving a number of animals per year, although a smaller percentage than the vegan dieter, still significant, with encouraging impacts on the earth as well.

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