Tips and techniques

5 different ways to follow a ‘vegetarian’ diet

Put simply, a person following a vegetarian diet doesn't consume any meat, poultry, game, fish or shellfish. But there are several variations that may distinguish some vegetarians from others.

The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as someone who does not eat any by-products of slaughter, meaning some vegetarians will still consume dairy and eggs.

Generally, someone who follows a vegetarian diet will eat a menu rich in grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits to ensure they are reaching the recommended nutrient intake without dairy or eggs.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians

This is the most common form of vegetarian diets. People who follow this diet still eat dairy products and eggs, but don’t consume any meat or seafood.

When starting a transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet, this is usually where many people start, as they are still able to include foods they had eaten regularly in their diet, and can pay less attention to nutrition labels and ingredients lists.

Lacto-vegetarians

Lacto-vegetarians will eat dairy products but avoid eggs and any products that contain eggs, such as cakes, biscuits and ice-cream.

When it comes to baking or recipes where eggs are required, some great vegetarian-friendly substitutes include mashed banana, apple puree or soft tofu to replicate the texture of eggs.

Ovo-vegetarian

Followers of an ovo-vegetarian diet may still consume eggs, but do not eat any dairy products. Many ovo-vegetarians will will only eat free-range eggs for ethical reasons.

They may switch their dairy products for nut based milks, cheeses and yoghurts, or rely on other dairy free foods to get their calcium from (such as darky leafy greens and almonds).

This tasty Sri Lankan potato and pea curry would be suitable for people following a lacto-ovo or ovo vegetarian diet.

Vegans

People who follow a vegan diet don’t eat any dairy, eggs, or other products which are derived from animals (including honey, gelatin and beeswax).

Quite commonly, people who do not eat any animal products will also reflect this in their day-to-day life, and may steer clear of anything created from animals such as leather, wool or silk.

There are an increasing number of vegan substitutes for every day foods they cannot eat, including plant-based nut milks, nut or fruit based cakes and desserts and meat substitutes made with soy products or vegetables.

Vege-quarians

While not technically a vegetarian, people who fit into this group do not eat any meat or poultry, but may sometimes consume fish or seafood.

You may also hear people refer to themselves as pescetarians, flexitarians or semi-vegetarians which means the same thing.

This text originally appeared in The Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook ‘Almost Vegetarian’, available online and where all good books are sold.

Related stories