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Thinking about going vegetarian? You may not realize that there’s actually more than one way to be a vegetarian. Indeed, there are at least half a dozen “types” of vegetarianism, all of which have their adherents. Which is for you? It depends on why you’re choosing vegetarianism. Some people choose a vegetarian diet for health considerations, while others may go vegetarian for religious, spiritual, animal welfare, or environmental reasons.

Some of your options include:

  • Vegan. Vegans eat no animal foods or foods based on animal products -- such as dairy, eggs, and honey. Many vegans also avoid other items made from animals or by animals, like leather shoes or sheep’s wool sweaters.
  • Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian. These vegetarians don’t eat meat, fish, or poultry. They do consume dairy products and eggs.
  • Ovo Vegetarians. These vegetarians avoid meat, fish, poultry, and dairy, but do eat eggs.
  • Lacto Vegetarians. As you might guess, this group avoids eating meat, fish, poultry, and eggs -- but eats dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese.
  • Semi- or partial vegetarian. In addition to eating vegetables, this group may sometimes eat chicken, seafood, and dairy, but avoids red meat.

According to national polls, about 3% of the U.S. adult population -- or 6 to 8 million people -- say that they are vegetarian, meaning that they never eat meat, poultry, fish, or other seafood. Between one-third and one-half of this group consider themselves to be vegan, avoiding dairy, eggs, and honey, as well. One of the most prominent converts to veganism: former President Bill Clinton!