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Veggie Tales (part 1): What the heck IS a vegetarian???

BF Basics: Veggie Tales was composed by four-year post-op and 25-year vegetarian, Kelly, better known as Poet Kelly on Obesity Help. This series is written in her voice with the full endorsement of Bariatric Foodie. If you have any questions for Kelly about any of the information provided, please leave them in the comments and she’ll gladly respond.

You probably know that vegetarians don’t eat meat.  You might not know that there are different
types of vegetarians, though.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products, but no
    beef, chicken, fish or other meats.
  • Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products but no eggs, beef,
    chicken, fish or other meats.
  • Vegans eat no animal products at all, including no eggs, dairy
    products or honey.  Vegans, and
    sometimes other vegetarians, try not to use animal products for things
    other than food, too.  For instance,
    they don’t wear leather shoes or belts and don’t wear fur coats.  They might try to avoid using cosmetics
    and other products that have been tested on animals, too.
  • Pescatarians aren’t really vegetarians, in my opinion, but
    some consider themselves vegetarians so I won’t quibble over semantics
    here.  They eat fish but no other
    animals.  They usually also eat eggs
    and dairy products.
There are a variety of reasons vegetarians might choose a
meatless diet:
  • They believe it’s
    healthier than eating meat.
  • They believe it’s wrong to
    kill animals.
  • They don’t agree with the
    way animals raised for food are treated (including the way laying hens and
    dairy cows are treated).
  • They are concerned about
    the environment (raising meat for food is much harder on the
    environment/creates much more pollution than raising plants for food).
  • They are concerned about
    world hunger (the amount of grain raised to feed one meat eater would feed
    14 vegetarians).
  • Some practice religions
    that encourage a vegetarian diet (like Seventh Day Adventists, Hindus,
    Buddhists and many pagans).
  • They just don’t like meat.
  • A few people become
    vegetarian after weight loss surgery because they find they no longer
    tolerate meat well.
Not all vegetarians believe all of these things.  That is one reason some are stricter about
their diet than others and some eat no animal products at all while others eat
eggs or dairy products.

Aren’t vegetarians
skinny?
A lot of people expect vegetarians to all be skinny and
healthy.  After all, vegetables aren’t
fattening, right?  But vegetarians don’t
just eat vegetables.  Trust me, if you
eat no meat but eat lots of pasta, bread, cheese pizza, potato chips and ice
cream (you can get rice milk ice cream if you are a vegan), you’re not going to
be skinny!  Know how I know?  Yeah, I learned that the hard way.

Vegetarians aren’t
all the same.
Maybe this is the most important thing I can say about
vegetarians.  They are not all the
same.  Some are skinny, some aren’t.  Some eat a very healthful diet, some eat lots
of junk food.  They choose not to eat
meat for different reasons.  Some are
really strict about not eating meat and some are more laid back about it.  Some are very into health and fitness, some
are couch potatoes.  Some are very
involved in the animal rights movement, some aren’t.

In summary, what you
need to know is:

  • Overall, the term
    “vegetarian” refers to a person who chooses not to include meat in their
    diet
  • Some vegetarians eat no
    animal product at all while some at eggs and/or dairy products.
  • There are lots of
    different reasons for becoming a vegetarian.
  • A vegetarian diet is not
    automatically a healthy diet.

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5 comments

  1. "A lot of people expect vegetarians to all be skinny and healthy. After all, vegetables aren’t fattening, right? But vegetarians don’t just eat vegetables. Trust me, if you eat no meat but eat lots of pasta, bread, cheese pizza, potato chips and ice cream (you can get rice milk ice cream if you are a vegan), you’re not going to be skinny! Know how I know? Yeah, I learned that the hard way."

    Story of my life!! – Former vegetarian of eight years, still one at heart (Heather)

  2. In general, do you feel a coworker or friend should be 'polite' and also limit meat choices when dining with a vegitarian friend/ co worker? I dont think I should have to, but I wouldnt mind doing so to make them more comfortable in a social situation. How do you even ask someone if they mind without sounding like an a55?

  3. I don't mind if people eat meat in front of me and thinking of other vegetarians I've known, I don't think any of them minded, either. Of course, I can't speak for everyone. I don't think it would be reasonable to expect everyone around me to conform to my choices, though. If you're not sure, I think it is OK to ask. Just say, "Hey, will it make you uncomfortable if I order the chicken?"

    Thanks for a great question! Kelly

  4. When I was veg I never cared what others ate when with me. It's a personal choice! I do hate the smell of beef, though. More of an issue in a home than a restaurant, though.

  5. MOre give me More lol