Nowadays, it seems there are a million different options when it comes to your diet, making it easier than ever to find the one that’s right for you. Here are a few of the most common diets and what they mean, so you can feel like you’re in the know! Whether or not you decide to conform to these labeled diets is up to you; ultimately, your diet should be about what you choose to include and exclude.
Vegetarianism involves following a plant-based diet, and excluding meat (red meat, poultry, and seafood). A majority of vegetarians choose to include eggs and dairy products, and are technically called ovo-lacto vegetarians. Those that eat eggs but not dairy are called ovo-vegetarians, and lacto-vegetarians choose to include dairy products, but no eggs.
A pescatarian is a vegetarian with the exception of seafood. Many people have adopted this diet for health reasons, but many also use it as a transitional diet into full-on vegetarianism.
“Flexatarian” is a relatively new term used to describe those that often eat vegetarian, but also occasionally consume meat and seafood. Some people choose to eat meat and seafood only when they know it has been ethically farmed, and others on special occasions.
Vegans abstain from all animal products and by-products, including meat, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and processed foods that contain these or other animal-derived ingredients (gelatin, for example). Some vegans even restrict products that are made using animal-products, but don’t actually contain them. There is debate as to whether honey should be included in a vegan diet.
A raw vegan is a vegan that excludes all processed foods, and foods that have been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). Many raw vegans believe that foods that have been heated over this temperature have lost so much of their nutritional value that they are either not worth eating, or actually harmful to the body.
Macrobiotic diets include unprocessed vegan foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and occasionally fish. Sugars and refined oils are avoided, and a large emphasis is usually placed on Asian vegetables such as daikon and seaweed.
A gluten free diet excludes gluten, which is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. Usually, this diet is adopted due to celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that is caused by a reaction to the gluten protein. Often, gluten-free foods are not entirely free of gluten, but contain such a small amount as to be considered safe.