Vegetarianism Deconstructed

August 30, 2012

A quick-reference guide to vegetarianism, sure to come in handy if you ever plan to cook for one.

Baby Vegetables in Box 2
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

Given the fervor over vegetarianism, you’d think it’s something new. It’s not. It’s a tenant of Hinduism and Buddhism, and past advocates of a plant-based diet range from Pythagoras to Tolstoy to Hitler. Reasons to become a vegetarian include health and ethics, and proponents tell us that it needn’t be an all or nothing proposition. If you aspire to be one—or to feed one—here are some permutations.

  • Vegetarian: Abstains from animal flesh.
  • Ovolactarian, ovo-lacto-vegetarian: Eats eggs and dairy, but no meat. Simplest way to assure adequate protein without meat.
  • Lactarian, lacto-vegetarian: Dairy, yes. Eggs, no.
  • Ovo-vegetarian: Eggs, yes. Dairy, no.
  • Pescetarian: Land animals are off the menu, but fish is fine.
  • Vegan: Abstains from all animal products, including eggs and dairy, as well as less obvious offenders like honey and gelatin. Serious vegans don’t wear wool, silk or leather and check toothpaste labels to avoid calcium derived from animal bones.  
  • Fruitarian: Eats only fruit. Reported benefits include spiritual awareness, freedom from cowardice and pleasant body odor.
  • Flexitarian: Strives to eat mostly plants, but occasionally eat meat or fish.
  • Semitarian: A flexitarian with rules, generally a schedule for when meat can be eaten. Cookbook author and food writer Mark Bittman, for example, is a “vegan until dinner,” when all bets are off.
  • Raw foodist: In the belief that cooking kills nutrients, avoids foods heated above 115F. May or may not be vegetarian; some raw foodies frequent sushi bars. Usually passionate about juicing and sprouting, raw foodists “bake” through dehydration. Reported benefits include weight loss and heightened energy.

—By Jo Marshall, a food writer in Deephaven, Minn. 



Vegetarian Ragu with Cilantro Pesto

Vegetarian Ragu with Cilantro Pesto

A delicious Ragu rice dish filled with vegetables varying from sweet potatoes to fresh zucchini and topped with a homemade cilantro pesto.

Sesame Noodles

Sesame Noodles with Shredded Vegetables

Meatless and filling -- and fun to eat.


Stuffed Tomatoes with Panko and Summer Vegetables

Ideal for a light lunch or Meatless Monday main dish, veggie-stuffed tomatoes get a little heft from Japanese breadcrumbs.

orzo veggies

Colorful Orzo Veggies

Great for potlucks, this simple dish is perfect as a vegetarian entrée or as a side.

Tofu Bourguignon

This vegetarian stew is full of the hearty, satisfying flavors of the French countryside.


Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad

Roasted beets are the perfect foil for slight bitter arugula in this salad.


Summer White Bean Salad

Cooked dried white beans are a great base for a summer salad of tomatoes and bell peppers.


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