What’s a vegetarian?

What’s a vegetarian? Or all of the other -ian terms: pescetarian, pollotarian? What’s a vegan? Or someone eating plant-based? What is WFPB anyway? What? There are more? No, please… just stop it!

Why do you need all this terminlogy…

Well, who knows what other crazy made-up-terminology came up last night while I was sleeping… There are almost as many different terms as there are diets. Why do we need so many and why do they all need such difficult names?

My thought with this post was to dig a little, make it clearer because it seems to be an all-out confusion here. Not even people working in restaurants seem to know what is what, I have noticed. At least as Sweden goes. So let’s sort it out! Once and for all!

What is a vegetarian?

vegetables on the street

This word is really THE WORD! A vegetarian eats plant-based. End of story. They don’t eat animal products at all. They don’t eat meat, not chicken, not fish – no animals at all – no, no, no, and no to animals.

No, I’m sorry, but you can’t call yourself a vegetarian if you’re digesting random animals.

So why make it difficult then if this word is really THE word, you are probably wondering now. Well, because people have made it difficult. Why?

I have no idea, but the public seems to think that “vegetarian” is synonymous with someone eating eggs and dairy, but not meat, including chicken and fish – I’m specifying these here since many people wrongly conclude that one is excluding chicken and fish when using the word “meat”.

This is wrong! What’s a vegetarian? It’s someone who doesn’t eat anything from the animal kingdom but only eats from the plant kingdom.

The vegetarian doesn’t eat candy with gelatine, since that is from the animal kingdom.

Animal rights are not necessarily something the vegetarian is concerned about since vegetarianism is focused on the diet only. Neither does the vegetarian have to care about animal-tested products, and can – after their own preference of course – wear leather and other animal products.

What is a Lacto-vegetarian?

street art athens vegan

And then people started making it difficult, claiming they were vegetarians while at the same time eating cheese and/or other dairy products. Many in this category call themselves “vegetarians”, which they per definition are not, but in fact they are Lacto-vegetarians.

Lacto comes from Latin, of course, and simply means “milk”.

Thus you call yourself what you include in your diet, hence in this case a person eats plant-based, including milk = Lacto-vegetarian.

A Lacto-vegetarian is not necessarily an advocate for animal rights, since it would be weird to be active against something you’re supporting, i.e. the dairy industry. What you wear, for example, leather or wool, and animal-tested products, falls in the category of personal preferences and has nothing to do with the diet.

What is an Ovo-vegetarian?

chickens in a primitive cage

Ovo-vegetarians – another group making it hard for the public knowing what’s what. What’s a vegetarian again? Right, someone eating plant-based. So what is an Ovo-vegetarian?

Since you’re named after what you’re including in the diet, an Ovo-vegetarian is someone including something more in their plant-based diet. What?

Eggs. Ovo comes from Latin as well and means “egg”.

An Ovo-vegetarian is not necessarily active in animal rights, since that too, just like for the Lacto-vegetarians, would be odd to fight something you’re at the same time supporting, i.e. in this case the egg industry. They don’t necessarily care about animal-tested products either and/or products made of animals, like clothes and shoes.

What is a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian?

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians – yet another confused plant-based group, who eat both eggs and dairy, but no meat (incl chicken and fish). I don’t really know from whence these confused 3 groups stem, or why they have decided to include certain things in their diet, and why they’ve chosen these products.

I used to belong to this rather confused group myself – I used to be a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – for years. Actually off and on my entire life. Up until I became vegan, I called myself a vegetarian för 5 whole straight years, and when I used the term vegetarian I meant Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. What’s a vegetarian for crying out loud?

Yes, apparently I hadn’t the foggiest either…

I’ve always loved animals but somehow thought there was a difference between animals and animals. Even though I didn’t want to actively kill an animal – I’m way too soft for that. This means, that like the above-mentioned groups, you can be a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian without necessarily actively engage yourself in animal rights issues. Just like the other groups, it would be odd to support the industries you’re actively fighting. RIght? You don’t have to care about what clothes or animal-tested products you wear and use either. It’s all about preferences.

Is there really a difference between animals and animals, though?

What is a vegan?

meat market beijing dog

A vegan does not eat anything from the animal kingdom, but only plant-based. The vegan can eat junk food – doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is that no animals had been used or suffered in the making of the food. It’s important there are no animals in the food you’re eating, or the products you’re wearing or using.

Healthy or unhealthy, organic or non-organic – all preferences.

Then why separate vegan from WFPB or vegetarian?

Because the vegan walks his or her path because of ethics, it’s not about the diet. A vegan is active in animal rights. And of course, the vegan doesn’t use beauty products or any products tested on animals, they need to be cruelty-free. And vegan (= animal-free).

To make it simpler – veganism is a lifestyle, and a choice you make from an ethical point, for the animals. It’s not only about the food you’re eating, but it’s also about the whole thing – how you’re living:

LIving ethical and hurting as few individuals as possible!

What is WFPB?


The letters WFPB stands for “Whole Food Plant-Based”, i.e. plant-based unprocessed food. This is my category, really. I’m vegan, but my diet is more of a WFPB diet, or at least this is what I’m aiming for. My wish to not eat meat and other animal products is about ethics, as well as my own health.

If you’re eating WFPB you don’t eat anything with a table of contents.

The food you eat is natural and unprocessed. Processed food is just a no-no in WFPB.

If you belong to this group you don’t have to care about animal rights, but many of these people are calling themselves “vegan”, which makes the “real” vegans go nuts. It’s confusing of course for everyone else because you don’t really know what is what and which box to put them in.

Mainstream: “Are they extremists or just vegetarians?”

Since this only includes the diet one who eats WFPB can basically wear whatever, leather doesn’t matter. They are very keen on organic products, however, and everything should be as natural as possible.

What is a Pescetarian?


Yes, well, speaking about insanities… Why this is even an accepted term is somewhat incomprehensible to me. Here they have chosen to follow the rule – the name comes from what you include, hence Pescetarian, alternatively Pesco-vegetarian, eats plant-based, but includes fish and seafood. There doesn’t seem to be any restrictions against egg or dairy, though – only preferences!

The word is a combination of the English word “vegetarian” with the Italian “pesce” meaning fish. Although they have chosen to not pronounce it Italien-wise… Incomprehensible as frack! A relatively new thing from the ’90s USA.

A Pescetarian is obviously not interested in animal rights, since they do eat fish (=animal), and have chosen their somewhat doubtful diet out of health reasons. Pescetarianism is all about the diet, and you can add whatever personal choices. There don’t seem to be any limits here…

What is a Pollotarian?


Let’s continue this insanity with another incomprehensible term or rather incomprehensible orientation. A Pollotarian eats chicken but excludes red meat. Just like pescetarianism, there don’t seem to be any guidelines concerning egg and dairy.

Logically speaking I would gather if you can eat the chicken you can probably eat their eggs too, right?

A Pollotarian has chosen their diet mainly because they believe it’s better for their health, so it’s not about the animals.

That’s why the Pollotarian is not engaged in animal rights, and it would be odd, indeed, because as with all the rest you’d be fighting industries you’re actively supporting. Maybe there are people active in animal rights, but I don’t know, it would be odd.

What is Raw Food?

cafe raw food love

This one I chose to include since Raw Food has been immensely popular during the last few years. They eat plant-based but don’t cook the food above 42 degrees Celsius. I’m not really into this type of food, I feel it’s somewhat boring, and all the same all over the world.

Not exciting at all. Have you tried one Raw Food dish you’ve tried them all!

This is my personal view, so I might be slightly boring here. Don’t take my opinion or taste as fact! Please try for yourselves if you’re up for it! Someone eating Raw Food does that for the health effects it is supposed to give you and is not necessarily active in animal rights. They don’t eat anything from the animal kingdom, so it wouldn’t be odd if they were active, however. It doesn’t automatically go hand in hand with Raw Food though.

So, now we stop here…

I could’ve probably lined up all kinds of terms here, the one stranger than the other, but who has the time to read a never-ending post? I do hope I’ve helped you somewhat in this vegetarian jungle, though.

There is a lot of terminologies when it comes to diet and philosophy, but I have included the most common, but you just wait and see – the last one isn’t even invented yet…

And that is just fine, because what would the world look like if we stopped evolving?



Do you place yourself in any of the categories I mentioned? Or maybe another one? Please leave a comment!

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What’s a vegetarian?

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