What does Vegetarianism mean

Definition of Vegetarianism

There are many different forms of vegetarianism (which often causes confusion!) A general definition of vegetarianism is:

Vegetarianism is the practice of living on products of the plant kingdom, with or without the use of eggs and dairy products, but excluding entirely the consumption of any part of the body of an animal as food (including chicken, fish and seafood). The term “vegetarian” means a person who follows such practice, or describes such a person, creature, establishment or food pertaining to vegetarianism.

The term “vegetarian” comes from “vegetus”, the Latin for “enlivened”, and has no connection, apart from a linguistic one, with vegetables. This is a common misconception.

Types of Vegetarians

Pesco- and Pollo-Vegetarian 

Pesco-Vegetarians eat fish, and Pollo-Vegetarians eat chicken, but all other meats are avoided. These diets are not, strictly speaking, vegetarian. To avoid confusion about the term ‘vegetarian’, perhaps the correct classification should be ‘Pesco’ and ‘Pollo’ Omnivores.

‘Semi’ or ‘Demi’ Vegetarian or Flexitarian

‘Semi’ or ‘Demi’ Vegetarians or Flexitarians are people who eat mainly vegetarian food, but who occasionally eat meat and/or other animal products (e.g. for social, practical or cultural reasons). They are not, strictly speaking, vegetarian.


Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. Milk, dairy products and eggs are still consumed (lacto – milk; ovo – eggs). (Some Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians eat foods that contain gelatine, animal-derived rennet, animal fat etc. but these products are technically not suitable for vegetarians.)

Lacto- and Ovo-Vegetarian

Both Lacto-Vegetarians and Ovo-Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. Lacto-Vegetarians still consume milk and dairy products, and Ovo-Vegetarians still consume eggs (lacto – milk; ovo – eggs). (Some Lacto-Vegetarians and Ovo-Vegetarians eat foods that contain gelatine, animal-derived rennet, animal fat etc. but these products are technically not suitable for vegetarians.)

Pure Vegetarian

Pure Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, dairy products or eggs. The diet comprises vegetables, vegetable oils, cereals, legumes (peas and beans), nuts, fruit and seeds. Honey is usually seen as being optional. This diet is not as “boring” as it sounds due to the wide range of meat alternatives, non-dairy yogurts and ice-creams, biscuits, chocolates etc. available that are completely free of any animal products.


Vegans are Pure Vegetarians who exclude animal products from their entire lifestyle (e.g. wool, leather, soaps that contain animal fats, products tested on animals etc.).


Fruitarians are vegans who eat only the ripe fruits* of plants and trees, i.e. foods that can be harvested without killing plants or trees. These foods consist primarily of culinary fruits, nuts, and seeds. Some Fruitarians will eat only what falls naturally from a plant or tree. As with other dietary practices, such as raw foodism, some people consider themselves Fruitarian even if their diet is not 100% fruit. Usually Fruitarians who include foods other than fruit follow a vegan diet.

* The term ‘fruit’ usually refers to plant fruits that are sweet  and fleshy (including plums, apples, and oranges), but (botanically) also includes other fruits that are commonly called ‘vegetables’ (including capsicum, tomato, and cucumber), as well as nuts, legumes and grains.