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Do you have a friend who is a vegetarian? Have you had your eye on a cute girl or guy who goes meatless? Has one of your family members decided to go vegetarian? If you answered yes, you might feel slightly awkward around meal times. What do they eat? What type of vegetarian are they? How do you accommodate their food choices? We hope to demystify the types of vegetarianism that is out there for you and help make choices that will make your vegetarian friends feel welcomed.

Vegan

Vegans don’t want anything to do with any food, clothing or item that is 1) made from an animal like wool, fur or leather, 2) produced from an animal such as eggs or milk and some don’t even use honey.

Veganism can seem pretty extreme to some of us who eat meat, dairy products and use animal products but vegans obviously feel very strongly about staying away from those things so it’s important to find ways to make them feel comfortable if you want them to be in your life. So, serve tofu, tempeh, seitan or a meaty mushroom like portabella instead of chicken or steak, sweeten the drinks with raw sugar or agave nectar instead of honey and put on your cloth sneakers or sky high patent leather pumps instead of those sexy leather heels so your vegan peeps will feel that you want to make them feel comfortable.

Raw

The raw foodist only eats foods that are not cooked because the cooking process ruins the natural enzymes, minerals and vitamins that are present in the foods that they consume. Of course, raw foodists only eat foods that can be safely eaten raw such as fruits, vegetables and vegetable or soy based meat substitutes. When you prepare a meal for a raw foodist, you are safe if you stick to salads, smoothies and fruit/veggie plates.

Fruitarian

If you know someone who only eats fruit, seeds and nuts, they are a Fruitarian. Fruitarians only consume organically grown fruits and they consider avocado, olives, squash, paprika, cucumbers and tomatoes to be fruits. Some even take nuts and seeds out of their diets when they feel that they are able to do so.

The fruitarian diet can be pretty restrictive but on the bright side it’s really easy to serve up some fruit and nuts and mealtime is done. There are even some pretty interesting recipes like banana soup, paprika salad and ice cream made from ripe frozen bananas and topped with other fruit like mangos or berries. So for you ladies who don’t cook or you dudes who can’t boil water, the fruitarian in your life should be pretty easy to please with a little creativity and a good blender or food processor.

Lacto-Ovo

Vegetarians who eat dairy products and eggs are called lacto-ovo vegetarians. When most people think of vegetarians in general, lacto-ovo vegetarians are usually the picture that comes to mind. The lacto-ovo vegetarian’s meal choices include more variety which can make it easier to plan or prepare a meal. So when you hang out with your lacto-ovo vegetarian friends, feel free to serve cheese, milk, ice cream, tofu, tempeh, seitan (i.e. tofurkey), textured vegetable protein as well as fruits, vegetables, seeds, honey and nuts. Since a lot of restaurants are vegetarian-friendly, you can take them to Chinese restaurants, Thai, even some American restaurants, the possibilities are endless, well, except for those Brazilian steakhouses.

Pesce, Pollo and Flexitarians

Pesce-vegetarians include fish with their fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables and pollo-vegetarians include poultry aka foul like chicken and turkey but both avoid red meat and pork. Then there’s the flexitarian who mainly eats a vegetarian diet but will make exceptions when they want or need to do so.

Some of the “stricter” vegetarians feel that pesce, pollo, and flexitarians aren’t “real” vegetarians but a lot of people can’t go from meat to completely meatless without a transitional period so they use these slightly restricted diets to help them through the change.

Of course, pesce, pollo and flexitarians can probably eat at almost any restaurant and feel comfy but it would probably be a good idea to keep them away from temptation if they really want to make the change from carnivore to herbivore.

Overall, vegetarianism is a pretty strict lifestyle and those who are just starting out need time and understanding to get through the initial stages so it’s important for their friends and loved ones to help them out. Congratulations, you have taken the first step toward being a source of support and acceptance for the people you’ve decided to “do life” with.

- Yumm-e xoxo

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