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This section looks at why we want to abstain from eating meat, and provide some basic nutrition information to consider in a vegetarian or vegan diet. When you join the Society, we send you more comprehensive information and tips to live well on a vegetarian/vegan diet. For those of you who are new vegetarians, or who would like information about cooking for children, we also have pages with ideas to support you – go to our Food & Dining pages for recipes and tips on lifelong vegetarianism.

NZ Vegetarian Society – Information Booklet

What is a Vegetarian?

Vegetarian: A person who, for whatever reason (eg moral, health, religious), does not eat meat (red meat, poultry, fish,shellfish or crustacea) or by-products of slaughter.

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Vegetarian who eats both dairy products and eggs.

Lacto Vegetarian: Vegetarian who eats dairy products but avoids eggs.

Ovo Vegetarian: Vegetarian who eats eggs but not dairy products.

Vegan: A person who does not eat, wear or use any products derived from animals.

Pescatarian: Avoids red meat and poultry but eats fish. Not a vegetarian.

Eggs: Many vegetarians eat only free-range eggs. This is due to welfare objections to the intensive farming of hens.

There are, of course, overlaps between these categories, and most people will be a variation of these. For example, a vegetarian may eat free range eggs but avoid leather and animal tested products. A vegan may avoid animal products except honey, arguing honey bees are endangered and buying honey helps bee farmers who lobby for reduction in bee pesticides and take anti-disease measures, and so is beneficial to bees overall.

We need definitions for clarity, but in reality, people may make equally ethically-based choices but come to different conclusions based on personal prioritisation.

As a new or experienced vegetarian or vegan, you may have come to your lifestyle choice for various reasons. We can support you with information both about the nutritional aspects of being vegetarian and about ethical aspects too. At our gatherings and in our magazine Vegetarian Living NZ, you will find articles and discussions about the impact our diet has on the environment, health and how real compassion for animals is enacted.