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The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) is a global organization that unites various vegetarian and vegan societies, aiming to promote a healthy, compassionate, and sustainable lifestyle. As part of its mission, the IVU provides a comprehensive list of definitions to clarify the various types of vegetarian diets and practices followed around the world. This list highlights the diversity and adaptability of vegetarianism and veganism, encompassing everything from traditional lacto-vegetarianism to the modern plant-based diet movement. While the IVU encourages a diet free of animal products for the sake of animals, people, and the environment, it also acknowledges and respects the various approaches taken by its member organizations and individuals. In this spirit of inclusivity, the IVU aims to foster cooperation, understanding, and progress among all who embrace a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does 'vegetarian' mean?

Vegetarian: IVU defines vegetarianism as a diet derived from plants, including mushrooms, algae and salt, and excluding any animal meat (e.g., beef, poultry, pork, fish, seafood), with or without the use of dairy products, eggs and/or honey.
IVU recommends a diet without any animal product (strictly vegetarian or vegan), as an excellent way to provide many benefits for animals, people and the environment.
IVU does not promote the use of any animal products but understands that many vegetarians include dairy products, eggs or honey in their diets.
IVU includes all types of vegetarian/vegan organisations in its worldwide membership and treats everyone with equal respect and without discrimination (more below).

By way of background:

We now know that the first people to call themselves 'vegetarian', in England around 1840, used food entirely derived from plants.Since 1847, the world's first Vegetarian Society, in the UK, has consistently defined 'vegetarian' as 'with or without' eggs or dairy products. This is still the most common understanding in the West.

From the late 19th Century, in India the word 'vegetarian' has become commonly attached to the traditional Hindu/Jain diet, which is 'with dairy' but 'without eggs'. This understanding is used by many ethnic Indians around the world.

From the late 20th century, the majority of organisations in North America that call themselves 'vegetarian' have been promoting a diet of food entirely derived from plants (ie without eggs/dairy). Since it was founded in 1974 the North American Vegetarian Society has referred to this as 'total vegetarian'.

From the outset of the 21st century IVU has promoted vegetarianism without either eggs or dairy products, whilst understanding that some member organisations take a different approach.

What does 'vegan' mean?

Vegan: excludes any use of any animal products for any purpose, including animal flesh (meat, poultry, fish and seafood), animal products (eggs, dairy, honey); the wearing and use of animal products (leather, silk, wool, lanolin, gelatin); also excludes animal use in entertainment, sport, research etc.

Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian: eats plant food plus eggs and milk products. Common in the West.

Lacto-Vegetarian: eats plant foods and milk products. Common in India.

Total-Vegetarian - increasingly being used to mean plant foods only, especially in North America.

Dietary Vegan: follows a vegan diet, but doesn't necessarily try to exclude non-food uses of animals. Same as total-vegetarians.

Plant-Based Diet - a diet consisting entirely or mainly of whole or minimally processed plants, such as vegetables, grains, pulses, seeds, fruits, herbs, and spices, and which may also contain seaweed, algae, mushrooms, fermented microorganisms, and small amounts of salt and added vegetable oil.

IVU advocates a plant-based diet without any animal-derived ingredients as ideal from the point of view of health, well-being and respect for animals and the environment, social justice among others.

Veg*n - short for vegetarian/vegan

Veggie/Vego -- Shortened nick-name for a VEGETARIAN; often includes VEGANs.

Halal Vegetarian - proposed by our friends in the West Asia region as "a person or product complying with the generally accepted definitions of both Halal and Vegetarian."
What is a Strict Vegetarian?Strict vegetarian: a vegetarian who does not consume any animal-sourced products.

What is a Pure Vegetarian?

Pure Vegetarian is the same as strict vegetarian, except in India where Pure Vegetarian is lacto-vegetarian.

What is a Vegetist?

Vegetist - was used in the late 19th/early 20th century USA, possibly a forerunner of vegan.

What is a Semi-Vegetarian?

It means such perso eats less meat than the average person.

What is a Flexitarian?

A Flexitarian eats some vegetarian meals, but not always.

What is a Pescetarian?

A Pescetarian is similar to VEGETARIAN, but also consumes fish.

What is a Fruitarian?

A Fruitarian is the same as VEGAN, but only eats foods that don't kill the plant (apples can be picked without killing the plant, carrots cannot).

What is a Vegetable Consumer?

A Vegetable Consumer means anyone who consumes vegetables. Not necessarily a VEGETARIAN.

What is a Herbivore?

A Herbivore is mainly eats grass or plants. Not necessarily a VEGETARIAN.

What is a Plant-Eater?

A Plant-Eater mainly eats plants. Not necessarily a VEGETARIAN.

What is a Non Meat-Eater?

A Nonmeat-Eater does not eat meat. Most definitions do not consider fish, fowl or seafood to be meat. Animal fats and oils, bone meal and skin are not considered meat.

What is Kosher?

Kosher food are made according to a complex set of Jewish dietary laws. Does not imply VEGAN in any case. Does not imply OVO-LACTO VEGETARIAN in any case. Even KOSHER products containing milk products may contain some types of animals which are not considered 'meat'.

What is Pareve/Parve?

A Pareve/Parve is one category in the KOSHER dietary laws. Made without meat or milk products or their derivatives. Eggs and true fish are pareve, shellfish are not.

What does Non Dairy mean?

It means it does not have enough percentage of milkfat to be called dairy. May actually contain milk or milk derivatives.

What does Nonmeat mean?

It means made without meat. May include eggs, milk, and cheese. Sometimes even included animal fats, seafood, fish, fowl.

What does Meat Free mean?

It means made without meat. May include eggs, milk, and cheese. Sometimes even included animal fats, seafood, fish, fowl.

Why to be Vegetarian or Vegan?

Abhorrence of the cruel practices inherent in livestock, poultry and dairy farming is probably the single most common reason for the adoption of veg*ism, but many people are drawn to it for health, ecological, spiritual and other reasons.Land, energy and water resources for livestock agriculture range anywhere from 10 to 1000 times greater than those necessary to produce an equivalent amount of plant foods.

 What's the history of the word Vegetarian?

The term 'Vegetarian' was first used around 1840 by the community closely associated with Alcott House School, near London, and they used it to refer exclusively to foods derived from plants - plus all the ethical values associated today with Veganism.. Until 1847, the most commonly used equivalent term was 'vegetable diet' ('vegetable' in those days meant any type of vegetation, as in 'animal, vegetable or mineral). Some referred to themselves as 'Pythagoreans' or adherents of the 'Pythagorean System', after the ancient Greek Pythagoras.The word 'Vegetarian' was first formally used on September 30th of 1847 at Northwood Villa in Kent, England. The occasion being the inaugural meeting of The Vegetarian Society.The Vegetarian Society was a joint venture between Alcott House and the Bible Christian Church (BCC), from Salford, near Manchester. The BCC did use eggs and dairy products, so the Society's early definition of 'vegetarian' was "with or without eggs or dairy products", the choice was left to individual members. That basic definition is still used by the Society today (now renamed as The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom). However, most vegetarians in India are lacto-vegetarians (no eggs) as were those in the classical Mediterranean lands, such as Pythagoras.In the USA surveys from 2009-10 showed 66% of genuine vegetarians excluding eggs/dairy completely.The word  VEGAN was invented by Donald Watson and friends in 1944. It is pronounced "vee-gun". This is the most common pronunciation today. No one can say this pronunciation is "wrong", so this is also the politically correct pronunciation. In the US, common pronunciations are "vee-jan" and "vay-gn" in addition to "vee-gn", though the American Vegan Society says the correct pronunciation is as above.

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