I am a Vegetarian . . . Sort of
Because we are a business that caters to many vegans and vegetarians, I am always asked if I am one or the other. The truth is that I am a vegetarian ….. sort of. Because this answer seems so non-committal, I usually simply reply “it is complicated.” I don’t mean to sound so dismissive – it is just that I don’t think the person asking the question really wants to hear the answer. The reality is, it really is complicated. To be honest, asking someone whether he or she is a vegetarian is kind of meaningless because there is a broad spectrum that falls under the category of “vegetarianism.” Let me explain why.
The level at which a person consumes animal products is a very personal and layered decision. While vegans choose not to consume or use animals or animal byproducts at all, vegetarians choose their level of consumption based on personal preference. For example, some vegetarians might not eat red meat or chicken because they consider it to be cruel to animals, but they want protein so they will eat eggs. Others may choose to not eat chickens or eggs, but they want calcium and do not consider it cruel to animals to consume dairy. Some people cut out red meat not because they are on a crusade for animal rights but just because it is healthier. It is all very confusing, and all very personal. Because of this, a whole bunch of subcategories of vegetarianism have been created, and there is no reason to believe this list won’t grow. For now, and to get you up to speed, the list (yes, it is real) includes:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians – those who don’t eat meat or fish but dairy products and eggs.
Lacto vegetarians – those who don’t eat meat or eggs but eat dairy products.
Ovo vegetarians – those who don’t eat meat or dairy products but eat eggs.
Pesco vegetarians -those who eat fish but not meat.
Pollo vegetarians -those who won’t eat red meat but eat chicken.
Pesco pollo vegetarians – those who eat fish and chicken but no red meat.
Fruitarians – those who eat fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant material so long as it can be gathered without harming the plant.
Flexitarians -those who prefer to eat vegetarian but make exceptions.
So, what am I? Well, 8 years ago I made the choice to become what I now know is a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I decided at that time to not eat meat, poultry or fish, but to eat dairy and eggs. This choice not only came from my own feelings about the atrocious treatment of cattle and chickens in this country, but also from the belief that ingesting meat or poultry from an animal that has suffered so much pain is just not healthy for us (studies show that the stress, fear and pain animals experience when slaughtered results in several disease processes in the humans which eat the meat). For my own reasons, I do not feel the same way about eggs and dairy (though I must admit I can see the contradiction in my own belief system), especially when my choices to make sure I get enough protein and calcium in my diet are otherwise limited. But, because vegetarianism is so subjective, my own choices have changed over time and my vegetarian lifestyle has shifted. I have recently come to believe that try as I might to survive on as little animal protein as is possible, it just is not the most healthy choice for me (yes, me – you get to make your own decisions). After 8 years of lacto-ovo vegetarianism, I (and my doctor) noticed certain negative health side effects, possibly caused by my dietary choices. So, three months ago, I decided to bring more animal protein back into my regular diet. So, while I will still not eat whole animal protein meats, I made the decision to eat incredibly healthy bone marrow bone broths (specifically, ours at Soupure), made from organic chicken bones, air chilled, and from farms which treat their animals with respect. I have already noticed differences in the way I look and feel.
So, I guess that makes me a flexitarian or a pollo vegetarian, or simply someone who is mindful of what they eat. Actually, many people I know fall somewhere on the same broad spectrum. I guess that makes many of us proud vegetarians. . . sort of.