So Am I a Vegan, Vegetarian, Ovo-Lacto, or Pecetarian?!

04/16/2015 02:28 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2015

How different is vegan from vegetarian?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Answer by David Hood, Been on a plant-based diet since 2005, dairy free since 2000


It's important to understand that there is a fundamental difference between [Vegans and Vegetarians] when looking at it from the broadest of strokes.

Veganism is a lifestyle. It doesn't simply dictate what you eat, but your ethics, important political issues, and what products you allow in your home; not just your belly.


  • Do not consume any animal products of any kind that can be avoided.
  • Do not wear animal based clothing like leather, do not have animal based decor in their homes, and generally do not allow things into their lives that come from dead animals.
  • Vegans are animal advocates, animal rights and possibly environmentalism would be important issues for a vegan

Vegetarianism is a term in and of itself, but is also an umbrella term that includes variations on its meaning.


  • Do not consume any animal based foods for the most part. Unlike vegans they are less concerned with the many hard to pronounce food additives and may indulge in things like honey.
  • Vegetarians show varying levels of restraint with animal based non-edibles like clothing. For example I wouldn't buy a leather jacket because I don't need one, but I do by leather shoes because they hold up better than animal free options while also being cheaper.
  • Vegetarians may chose the diet for many reasons such as health and the environment without really buying into animal rights, though many do.

Generally vegetarians are a bigger tent than vegans and the whole premise is based around general agreement with plant-based lifestyles while also not supporting the extreme and hard to follow vegan lifestyle. Vegetarianism is about moderation and wider mainstream support. The idea being its better for as many people as possible to take one step than having very few people take two.

Because of this there are some other diets under the vegetarian umbrella that are great steps but are a separate and distinct thing:

  • Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian: Basically take the above, add dairy, and eggs in any degree.
  • Pescetarian: This is a person who may or may not be an Ovo-Lacto with the addition of fish

My closing is a public service announcement of sorts:

If you are a vegetarian who eats dairy please refer to yourself as an Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian and when the opportunity arises really spell out to people that not all vegetarians eat dairy.

Finally if you are a person you eats meat like chicken or anything really, even in extreme moderation you do not fall under the vegetarian umbrella. People label themselves for a reason, watering down that label helps no one. Most vegetarians would be very supportive of an omnivore who engaged in restraint to any extreme as a positive step forward. Indeed I'd love to see the term "ethical omnivore" catch on, even if the only step you take is to support Meatless Monday's.

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