I am a vegetarian. There. I said it. Sure, it’s only been a week and a half, but so what. I’m finally admitting my choice openly. I’m out of the closet, er… pantry. Whatever. Now that I’m being more open about my choice, I’m drawing a lot of questions. When I declare my vegetarianism (henceforth to be referred to as “Vism,” because that’s just too many syllables, and yes I realize that explaining the abbreviation is counterproductive to the reason for it) I am often answered with “why?” That can be explained in my earlier post. That is usually followed up with, “well, what aren’t you eating?”
When I first decided to attempt vism, I had it in my head that I would eliminate all meat (beef, poultry, fish, etc.) and eggs. There’s no specific reason for excluding eggs, other than it just felt like it belonged in the meat category. I didn’t make a list of foods and then cross them out as I considered each. It was automatic. My interrogators listen to my list without blinking until I reach “eggs,” and then the room erupts in madness.
“You’re a vegan?!”
“Not eggs too?!
“What the hell is wrong with you?”
My favorite, of course, was my wife’s response: “You can eat eggs, honey. Vegetarians eat eggs.” After hearing this, I decided to do a little research, and as it turns out, like most things, labels can be further defined to the point of silliness.
Apparently there are many levels of vism. Wikipedia defines them:
- Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
- Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
- Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey.
- Veganism excludes all animal flesh and animal products, including milk, honey, and eggs, and may also exclude any products tested on animals, or any clothing from animals.
- Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.
- Fruitarianism permits only fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.
- Buddhist vegetarianism (also known as su vegetarianism) excludes all animal products as well as vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, or shallots.
- Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables.
- Macrobiotic dietsconsist mostly of whole grains and beans.
After looking over this absurd list, it appears that I am currently practicing Lacto-vism. Should I change my title to Lactovist? I’m pretty sure that’s what the Got Milk campaigns feature. Either way, I am surprised to learn the different varieties of visms and that there are choices available.
So, who makes the rules? Who decides whether or not eggs and milk make the cut? I suppose in the end, it’s all up to me. My gut tells me that I should avoid eggs, but I’m reconsidering. For one, my wife made brownies yesterday (delicious ones, might I add) and I have been eating them without stopping to consider that they were made with eggs. She didn’t sabotage me. She wasn’t aware that I included eggs on my not-to-eat list. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized my mistake. So, did I slip? Can I no longer eat baked goods either?
Something seemingly so simple has morphed into a giant tangled web of headaches.
What’s your take on the situation?