*Vism* and The Great Egg Debate

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?”

Is this even the right question?

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.

    Yoda. Jedi Master. Lactovist.

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?


9 responses to “*Vism* and The Great Egg Debate

  1. It’s entirely up to you of course, but I think you’re really gonna struggle if you completely cut out eggs. You’re gonna have to watch which desserts, breads, pastas and dishes in general you can eat since tons of them contain eggs. I say: dont eat eggs as a dish themselves (scrambled, fried, sandwiches, hard-boiled *you get my point*) but dont be so hard on yourself about eggs being an ingredient in other foods. You know that on Fridays during lent, Catholics could have eggs. Dont ask me why, but…

    Here’s my big question though… how are you feeling about stocks? I mean, can you eat something that may have been cooked with chicken or beef stock. I dont think I’ve ever used beef stock, but I do use chicken stocks or powders in some of my cooking (even vegetarian dishes). Also, are you allowing yourself to eat jello or marshmallows? If you didnt know, anything gelatinous is made from animals. I’m just curious.

    Here’s my thoughts: Maybe try this in steps or segments. If you go completely cold turkey, it’s gonna be twice as hard, but if you gradually subtract things, you may get through it easier. Start off eating eggs and stocks, then work it down to subtracting egg dishes, but still eating breads and stuff and cut out beef stock. Next, eliminate products that have been cooked with eggs, and eliminate chicken stock and just use veggie stock. Ween yourself off of these things, and it will probably be easier πŸ™‚


  2. First of all, way to go, James. I just stumbled upon your site and good for you for trying it out. It’s actually pretty easy – except when you go out to eat. Then you have to choose wisely from the 1 or 2 options you might have. πŸ™‚ Many meateaters will criticize the hypocrisy in what you choose to eat. Let them. The first step is to give up what you can. I am ovo-lacto, (eggs/dairy acceptable)…I’m comfortable with that. I do believe that we should even minimize those items, but I’m not there yet in life. I don’t recommend eating a bunch of soy stuff either, however, those faux meats are great when you are first making the transition. I have a series of “Vegetarian Pedestrian meals” coming up soon. Stop by if you get a chance.

    In india, vegetarian is without eggs, but dairy is fine. You’ll see a lot of yogurt and milk products. There’s a sect of Jain religion and they don’t eat eggs, but do eat dairy but do not eat root vegetables because once you remove them from the earth they cannot regenerate…

    Very complicated.

    I agree with Katie above – take incremental steps.

    But to reiterate, way to go on changing your diet.

    For cookbooks – check out any by Rose Elliott or The Best Ever Vegetarian Cookbook by Nicola Graimes.


    • Thanks, Amee and Katie. I really appreciate the support, especially when going into this I thought I would be getting some abrasiveness from other vegetarians concerning my choices. So far, this has been a pretty positive experience. Except, of course, that hot dogs at the ball game are no longer permitted. 😦 I’m really going to miss that.

      Concerning stocks, yikes. I think it’s important not to drive myself crazy, so I thank you for the advice. I’ll sure to check out the cookbooks and swing by to check out your pedestrian meals.

      Thanks again!


      • Veggie dogs, are yummy πŸ™‚ I dont know if I tried boca burgers, but I can tell you morning farm’s veggie burgers are great! You couldnt PAY me to eat a hamburger normally. (I cannot stand the texture of ground meat so I havent hard a burger since I was probably 11. Same with tacos, chili, etc.) But these veggie burgers are pretty tasty. I usually put some salsa or vegan mayo or something on mine to make it taste a little better, but still, give them a try! πŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to seeing your weekend blog about the farmers market as Matt and I are also going downtown this weekend to the Eastern Market to shop πŸ™‚


  3. Vegan mayo? That sounds awful! And man oh man you are/were missing out on some excellent stuff! Eastern Market sounds like a great time. While you’re there, take a look at the produce prices and let me know where they rate. This a cause for concern for me.


  4. I LOVE the eastern market. I was just there a weekend or two ago with Matt and my fam. I think they are very fair with their prices. I’m trying to think of specifics… ok, I think we may have seen an offer for a dozen ears of large, fresh, sweet corn for $3. The nice thing about the Eastern Market is that EVERYTHING is SO fresh and there is so much variety! I’ve looked at different stores for specific veggies or fruits to no avail yet, low and behold, the eastern market has a bounty! Lots and lots of organic stuff too πŸ™‚ I’ll take more notice when I’m there tomorrow and report back though!

    I’ve only used vegan mayo once. My mom bought it cuz it’s low in calories, but it kinda tastes just like regular mayo. It was good, but I’m a miracle whip girl, so the vegan mayo wasnt really for me, but if you like mayo, then vegan mayo is just as good! πŸ™‚ I dont know if you have Trader Joe’s by you, but I like to go there sometimes because they have lots of different foods that are all natural. Lots of different veggies too. The only problem is that they are a little pricey since they are mostly all natural and organic.


  5. Uh-oh. I was just looking through my spicy tofu recipe… It does call for chicken broth (I substitute chicken soup base), but more of a concern, it calls for oyster sauce. Is that something you are allergic to?


    • I am! No seafood for this guy! 😦 To be an honest, I have no idea if there’s a Trader Joe’s around or not. I really have no ideal at all where to get quality produce in this town. I look forward to your report!


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