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There are at least 14 types of vegetarians in Nepal. Which is yours?

vegetarians in nepal / vegetarianism in nepal
Photo: Pexels/ Maarten van den Heuvel

There are 1.5 billion vegetarians in the world. Generally, those who do not consume meat are referred to as vegetarians. But, there are a few different kinds of vegetarians in Nepal depending on who you ask.

Vegetarianism can be practised for a variety of reasons. Some see it as the practice of avoiding meat intake (red meat, poultry, seafood, insects, and/or any other animal). For others, it may also mean avoiding all byproducts of animal slaughter. 

Such practices seem to have come into practice because of many religious and cultural beliefs as well as the animal rights campaigning, as of late. Other reasons for being a vegetarian include health, politics, the environment, aesthetics, economics, taste, and other personal preferences. If you go deeper into history and present dietary practices, there are many different sorts of vegetarians in Nepal as well as in the world. To put it mildly, it is difficult to keep track because there is always a new kind of vegetarians emerging.

Here are a few types of vegetarians in Nepal we have noticed.

1. Lacto-vegetarians

lacto vegetarians in nepal
Representational image. Photo: Pexels/ Catherine Franken

Among the many types of vegetarians in Nepal, there are lacto-vegetarians who can consume dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, butter, and cheese. But, these people have the same dietary limitations as vegetarians, including avoiding meat and eggs. Most traditional vegetarians in Nepal belong to this group.

2. Ovo-vegetarians

Ovo-vegetarians make similar options as vegetarians. While they do not consume meat or dairy items in their diet, they do ingest eggs. Again, individuals may pick for any reason, but most often it is because they like eating eggs or believe they need to take them for nutritional benefit.

3. Lacto-ovo vegetarians

Lacto-ovo vegetarians are people who exclude meat from their diets but continue to consume dairy and eggs. There are many such vegetarians in Nepal. People may select this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, including the pleasure of certain meals, protein concerns, and even conflicting attitudes towards animal care.

4. Pescatarians

Pescatarians are people who choose to consume fish or seafood while avoiding other terrestrial animal meats such as chicken, wild hog, and cattle. Pescatarians may or may not consume eggs or dairy products, depending on their approach to this diet. These may be the least commonly known group of vegetarians in Nepal.

5. Pollo-vegetarians

Representational image. Photo:Pexels/ Julia Filirovska

Pollotarianism is a diet in which chicken is the only source of meat in an otherwise vegetarian diet. While ‘pollo’ technically means chicken in both Spanish and Italian, pollotarians are known to consume other types of fowl, such as duck and turkey.

6. Vegans

Veganism has redefined and sub-categorised vegetarians in Nepal. Veganism is a philosophy and way of life that seeks to eliminate, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty for food, clothing, or any other purpose, and, by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans, and the environment. In dietary terms, it refers to the practice of avoiding all goods obtained entirely or partially from animals including eggs, dairy products and honey.

7. Raw vegans

Going a step further, a raw vegan is someone whose diet is nutrition-driven and includes a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. The diet also includes a few processed food items, which may be high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. Certain food items lose nutritional value when cooked, therefore eating them raw may help maintain those nutrients.

Other than these general sections of vegetarians in Nepal, there are also other types of vegetarians you can see around you.

Representational image. Photo: Pexesls/ Karolina Grabowska

8. Occasional vegetarians (also religious vegetarians)

Occasional vegetarians in Nepal skip meat only when necessary, such as during pujas or shraddhas (yearly rituals done for the departed souls). For example, the Nepali month of Shrawan is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and after that, other important festivals such as Teej are also observed, hence meat is avoided. Many who take fast may only avoid meat on Mondays. Meanwhile, as the Newa community also observes the Gunlaa festival, its members also avoid meat for religious purposes. 

Nepal is a very religious country, where several festivals take place during which you are advised to not consume any kind of meat, and even onions, scallions, garlic and salt. Many highly religious people also avoid them on full moon day, ashtami (eighth day of the waning/waxing moon), and ekadashi (11th day of the waning/waxing moon).

However, they are not the only vegetarians found across the planet. Dissecting people’s behaviour a bit further, we can find the following kind of vegetarians in Nepal.

9. “The split personality” vegetarians

If your house is strictly religious and bans meat, but you are non-vegetarian at heart, you might be just portraying dual personalities. These people, though they are not permitted to eat meat at home, are seen in the chicken and momo places of their town, enjoying the delicacies with their friends. 

10. “Meat gravy only” vegetarians

Do your friends “claim” to be vegetarians and then the same person enjoys meat gravy and it comes naturally to them? These people enjoy just meat soup or gravy and call themselves vegetarians because they do not consume any sort of actual meat or fish.

11. “Until next time” vegetarians

These people are vegetarians by choice, per se. They are non-vegetarians at heart but they only occasionally eat meat, without commitments. They are vegetarians until they eat meat the next time.

12. “The super smellers”

Being a real vegetarian does not exclude you from appreciating the aroma of meat or fish. Some real vegetarians do not consume it, yet they enjoy the fragrance of meat fully. They might even care about the smell more than the non-vegetarians.

13. “The boycott” vegetarians

These are extreme vegetarians in Nepal who do not step inside a house where meat is being cooked. These people do not just dislike the smell of meat but would also rather stay away from you, avoid the food you offer and never enter your house. 

14. “The new veteran” vegetarians

Some non-vegetarians turn to vegetarians and vice versa, but they already establish themselves as veterans. The new vegetarians slam the non-vegetarians while the new non-vegetarians swoon over all kinds of meat dishes as if they have been so all their life. It may be weird for sure, but then again you can see new sides of the people.

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