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Getting Our Vegetarian Labels Straight

What is a person called who will eat eggs and dairy products only?

Pampered? Mollycoddled? A little unbalanced?

We assume the phrase you're looking for is ovo-lacto vegetarian, but it's not that they only eat eggs and dairy; they eat a vegetarian diet that also includes eggs and dairy (i.e., eggs and dairy and fruits and vegetables and beans, etc. just no meat or seafood.)

To our way of thinking, the word vegetarian implies that one eats egg and dairy products. The vastly more restrictive vegan eschews any food derived from a creature, including honey and all egg and dairy products.

There are patches of gray in the definitions, however, and we much to our surprise are not the keepers of the definitions. You will find people who call themselves vegetarians who only reject red meat. That is, they will eat fish and poultry. More hard-line vegetarians tend to sneer at those people.

There are so-called flexitarians, who generally keep a vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat fish or meat. There are fruitarians, responsible for the recent small rush of raw-foods "cookbooks," who only eat uncooked fruits, nuts, seeds, and sometimes vegetables. They are essentially raw-food vegans the purest of the pure or hardest of the hard liners (depending on your perspective).

In that there are any number of reasons people adopt a animal-shy diet (religion, environment, cost, ethics, nutrition) we are of the opinion these people can call themselves anything they want. Just as there are Roberts in this world who don't want to be called Bob and Margarets who don't want to be called Peggy, we think people should be allowed to call themselves and be called whatever they want even in the context of the food world.

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