Peace and pardon the delay!
For many moons throughout my life, I ate lots of meat, namely the usual around these parts...chicken, beef , fish and other seafoods, and yes...quite a bit of swine (minus chitlins, pig feet, pig lip and other pork delicacies that my Plaqmine, Louisiana side of the family enjoys). As I grew in my level of awareness of the filth of the pig and our historical connection to it ("because the devil taught us how to eat the wrong foods"-10:36), I decided to stop eating pork, aside from an occasional bowl of wonton soup or potstickers (guess I fully didn't stop, but more so cut back 95% of my intake...so I thought). I was proud to proclaim that I did not eat pork! However, I was totally unschooled about pork by-products. I continued to happily munch on jello, ho-hos, skittles, starburst, bleu cheese, provolone cheese and other foods with pork by-products.
After getting the knowledge of myself, and completing the arduous task of cutting the by-products, I made the decision to stop eating any meat aside from some fish. Our culture dictates that we should not eat fish over 50 pounds, and scavengers/bottom feeders/the roaches of the sea (which I thoroughly enjoyed), namely lobster, shrimp, clams, crab (used to be my favorite food), oysters, and others, due to the level of toxins and feces that these particular seafoods intake due to being closer to or on the floor of the ocean. You know the old adage "you are what you eat" so whatever the food you eat intakes, goes into your body as well.
Giving up my favorite foods was an especially difficult transition which took quite a bit of discipline. Dealing with knowledge and wisdom and intelligence over emotion regarding food required a lot of will power because the food did not stop looking appetizing for a while (and some foods still look and smell good...fried chicken and garlic butter crab!), but it's all a part of keeping your desires and wants in check because everything that is good and tasty to you is not good for you.
Changing my eating habits has been an adjustment to my personal culture (the foods I eat, where I shop, how often I eat), but once I saw clearly the foundation for why I ate the wrong foods, I had to do what would be life-changing and consistent. And this is one way I am learning to Master Allah's Rules to Cee Her (MARCH) because as I eat better, I am growing closer to being the earth, an environment for growth that produces healthy fruit. I still have a ways to go in this area (specifically my sweet tooth, and making sure I consume enough colorful vegetables, drinking enough water, and getting enough grains, protein and raw foods), but it's a process that I'm working through diligently, and that's what growth and development is about...continuing to grow and change for the better, adding on and taking away when you need to.
I prided myself on being a "vegetarian," and aside from the occasional annoyance of taking longer for grocery shopping due to having to read every single label to check for pork by-products, or having to ask, "What kind of renet is your cheese made with,"I have found it to be beneficial. I have noticed the changes in my body regarding digestion and I don't feel as heavy after eating (ever notice how after consuming a substantial portion of meat after a meal, it can feel like it's sitting in your stomach?). Of course, it's not just about not eating meat (don't want to overdose on carbohydrates to feel full), but eating enough of the right foods to make your system flow better.
After a couple of conversations and coming across the book, New Vegetarian Baby, by Sharon K. Yntema and Christine H. Beard, I realized that I, technically am not a "vegetarian." Calling oneself a vegetarian has become somewhat trendy these days, and many people, including myself do not fully live out what that means. Some folks who use the label only eat meat occasionally, or they only eat chicken, or they only eat organic meat, etc. I hate to say it but if you ascribe to the aforementioned eating habits, then technically, you are not a full out vegetarian. Either you eat meat or you don't, no matter how often or infrequent.
So if I eat some fish, some dairy, and egg products, along with other parts of the food groups, where does that place me?
Below, are some of the main types of "vegetarians" and explanations listed in the book New Vegetarian Baby and a basic online source. This is not an exhaustive list as there are several other categories, and some people may agree or disagree with the categories and explanations. However, I've found these to be rather consistent across sources:
Vegetarians do not eat meat or meat by-products of any kind. All vegetarians, therefore, eshew red meats, poultry, fish, seafood, gelatin, lard, animal-based broth, and similar foods.
"Lacto" refers to milk and other dairy products, while "ovo" (or more properly, "ova") refers to eggs and egg products. Some people are either lacto-vegetarians or ovo-vegetarians, but most include both eggs and dairy products in their otherwise non meat diet.
Vegans eat no meat, meat-by products, dairy products, or eggs. Some people prefer to use the term "strict vegetarian" to distinguish such dietary vegans from ethical vegans who also avoid eating other animal products, such as honey, and seek cruelty-free clothing, household products, cosmetics, medicines, and entertainment.
Many people who consider themselves to be vegetarian actually are pisco-pollarians, meaning they avoid mammalian ("red") meats but still eat poultry ("pollo") and fish ("pisco") or other seafoods. In common parlance, they are often referred to as near-vegetarians, semi-vegetarians, or partial vegetarians. If meat only constitutes a small part of the diet, it can more accurately be called a plant-based diet. This diet is incresingly being adopted by those meat-eaters who are concerned with their health, and it is well accepted by the medical and nutritional communities, but it should not be confused with a truly vegetarian diet.
Occasionally used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. Although the word is not commonly used, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet. Pescetarians often believe that moderate consumption of fish or fish oils, which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, is necessary for optimum health. (vegetarian.about.com)
Raw Vegan/ Raw Food Diet
A raw vegan diet consists of unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius). “Raw foodists” believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body. (vegetarian.about.com)
The macrobiotic diet, revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed. (vegetarian.about.com)
Flexitarian/ Semi-Vegeterian (this one is new to me)
“Flexitarian” is a term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat. (vegetarian.about.com)
Understanding is seeing something as it is, not what it appears to be and to describe myself accurately, my eating habits don't necessarily just apply to one term, but I seem to be between a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian and Pescatarian.
I build that you find where you fit, and wherever that may be, call it what it is!
(Proper Education Always Corrects Errors)