What is a vegetarian?

At it’s broadest, someone who doesn’t eat meat. Meaning no red meat (beef), fowl (chicken), pork (ham), game (venison), fish, and so on.

But what about butter? And eggs? And cheese? And ... ?

Well, erm, it depends.

According to the Mayo Clinic (I go them a lot because they seem to be an impartial source of quality information and I’m always leery of the information from any Website with even a potential bias, such as a site sponsored by a pharmaceutical company), there are three key types of vegetarians. None eat meat and all eat plant foods:
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians also eat milk and milk products, such as cheese, as well as eggs
  • Lacto-vegetarians eat milk and milk products, but no eggs
  • Vegans, the most restricted of the three, avoid milk, milk products, and eggs
So where do I fit in?
For now, we are leaning more and more toward a meat-free diet. This means no beef, no pork, no fowl, no game, and so on. We do have milk because I refuse to have a cup of tea without even a little splash and because I refuse to go a day with a cup. We do have cheese because life just is not worth living without Parmigiano Reggiano which, in this house, is used like a spice. And we do eat eggs because, well, have you ever seen a cake recipe that did not call for any?! But we do try to get the best eggs we can: Organic, cage-free, and so on.

And we have been known to eat the occasional meat-based dish, typically, out-of-the-house. The pizza we make at home is vegetarian. But the pizza we buy is half pepperoni to satisfy my husband. No visit to an Indian restaurant is complete without chicken briyani; no visit to a Chinese restaurant is complete without at least one pork dish (typically, again, to satisfy the spouse). And while I refuse to cook hamburgers, we have, on occasion purchased take-out hamburgers from the upscale hamburger joint down the street.

And, m'dear, no BLT is complete without the B.

So what, then, are you?
I guess there is only one name for people like us: Almost vegetarians. We’re on our way to giving up meat. But we’re just not there yet. But, almost. Almost.