All squares are rectangles, but a rectangle isn’t necessarily a square. Similarly, a vegan is a type of vegetarian, but a vegetarian isn’t necessarily a vegan.
When people ask me how I became a vegan, I explain that I was raised as a lacto-vegetarian and became a vegan in high school. This is usually met with blank looks and questions. With all the different types of vegetarians, there can be a lot of confusion experienced by those who don’t practice vegetarianism. By the end of this post, students will understand the differences between the main types of vegetarians.
In general, a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat, poultry or fish. Depending on various restrictions, vegetarians can be classified in a number of ways. At UTA, there are many students who practice alternative diets.
Chemistry freshman Olivia Sahlstein classifies herself as a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Sahlstein does not eat meat, poultry or fish, but she does consume eggs and dairy occasionally.
“I decided to become vegetarian because the health benefits. Also, the meat industry doesn’t treat animals right,” Sahlstein said. “I didn’t really eat that much meat in the first place, anyway. I don’t like the taste, and I don’t like how unhealthy it can be.”
Sahlstein feels better when she eats a vegan diet, but sometimes she has to eat what is available at her house to get enough calories. Her favorite foods are bean tacos, veggie burgers, sweet potatoes and vegan pizza made with hummus.
“I’m definitely working towards being vegan every day,” Sahlstein said. “Dairy doesn’t really play a large role in my diet, but I do like cheese pizza. I stay away from cow’s milk 100 percent, because it freaks me out, because there are traces of pus and blood in it. Also, the cows are treated pretty badly. It also leaves a weird taste in my mouth, so I don’t like it.”
Gaurang Naware, a mechanical engineering graduate student, was raised on a lacto-vegetarian diet. His diet includes dairy products, but not eggs. In contrast, ovo-vegetarians consume eggs, but avoid dairy. Naware became a vegetarian partly because he didn’t like the way animals are killed for meat.
Lacto-vegetarianism was a part of Naware’s Hindu background, but he says health benefits played a larger role in his family’s decision to practice vegetarianism. His parents were also raised as lacto-vegetarians.
“It’s not difficult being vegetarian. There’s lots of options. I also like to cook for myself,” Naware said. “I cook a lot of Asian food, particularly Indian food. I make typical Indian food, like different types of curries and veggies. I can make twelve different kinds of rice. My mom was the one who taught me how to cook.”
Kinesiology senior Courtney Redden decided to become vegan a year and a half ago while she was watching Forks Over Knives , a documentary about the health benefits of veganism. A vegan diet consists of no animal products whatsoever. Vegans eat vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts.
“I felt a lot better after going vegan. Whenever you eat better, you want to work out more,” Redden said. “It’s an overall better lifestyle for me. I do things more efficiently. My workouts were a lot better, and I just have more energy.”
Redden recently read an article about the potential health benefits of a pescetarian diet. Pescetarians are not vegetarians, but they are often misidentified as such. A pescetarian diet excludes meat and poultry, but includes fish, eggs and dairy.
“I recently tried eating a little fish, to see the effects, but it made me feel sick, so I’m going back to being vegan,” Redden said. “When I first started eating differently, it was just for health reasons. I mean, I still care about animals and the environment, but it was a health reason at first. The longer I was vegan, the more I cared about the other issues.”
Redden said from her experience, putting more veggies into a dish will make her feel more satiated and she won’t crave other things. Redden likes to make veggie tacos at home, with black beans or vegetarian refried beans.
“I usually put in seasoned brown rice, shredded zucchini, squash, onions, carrots and red bell peppers, and put liquid smoke in it for flavor,” Redden said. “I use a lot of liquid smoke.”
Like most students, architecture freshman David Rodriguez is an omnivore, meaning he eats both animal and plant-based products. While he categorizes himself as an omnivore, Rodriguez is very open-minded about trying vegetarian and vegan foods, and said he gets the same satisfaction, whether he’s eating vegetables or meat. He particularly enjoys vegan pizza from the Pizza Lounge in Fair Park, located at 841 Exposition Ave, Dallas, and Mellow Mushroom near campus, located at 200 N. Center St.
“When I was in high school, my sister had cancer, and the only thing that saved her was a vegetarian diet,” Rodriguez said. “She went to Honduras for treatment, where she met her husband. He fed her vegetarian dishes to help her with her recovery.”
Rodriguez became accustomed to eating less meat when he was living with his sister for a couple of years after her recovery.
“If eating less meat helped my sister, it could have other benefits.” Rodriguez said. “I haven’t discovered all these benefits personally yet, but maybe I will when I start cooking for myself.”