What is a vegetarian?
The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as follows:
"A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs. A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish*, insects, by-products of slaughter** or any food made with processing aids created from these."
* Shellfish are typically ‘a sea animal covered with a shell’. We take shellfish to mean;
- Crustaceans (hard external shell) e.g. lobsters, crayfish, crabs, prawns, shrimps
- Molluscs (most are protected by a shell) e.g. mussels, oysters, winkles, limpets, clams, etc. Also includes cephalopods such as cuttlefish, squid, octopus.
** By-products of slaughter includes gelatine, isinglass and animal rennet.
There are different types of vegetarian:
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs; this is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
- Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
- Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.
- Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals.
Some people may be vegetarian for religious reasons. Jains, for example, are either lacto-vegetarian or vegan, while some Hindus and Buddhists may choose to practice a vegetarian diet.
Eggs: Many lacto-ovo vegetarians will only eat free-range eggs. This is because of welfare objections to the intensive farming of hens. Through its Vegetarian Society Approved trademark scheme, the Vegetarian Society will only license its trademark to products containing free-range eggs where eggs are used.
Please note: The Vegetarian Society does not recognise as 'suitable for vegetarians' any product (food or otherwise) that contains ingredients that fall within the definition of what a vegetarian does not eat.
Last updated: October 2016
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