Are you a vegetarian or an omnivore? And what is the difference between those endings?

As you probably know by now, I am following the McDougall Program. If you haven’t heard of this, please go check it out. I’ll wait.

One thing I noticed when looking at this is that people call themselves omnivores often and occasionally carnivores. Yet people following a plant-based diet are referred to as vegetarian and extremists are vegans. And Dr. McDougall calls himself a starchivore.

It got me thinking, what is the difference between -ivore and -itarian?

Turns out there’s a big difference. Anything that eats the foods it has evolved to eat and is nutritionally dependent on has the suffix -ivore while -itarian denotes a conscious choice. Cats like lions and tigers are carnivores. They are dependent on specific nutrients they can only get through a diet of meats, organs, bones, and connective tissues.

Dogs are a little more versatile. Foxes eat apples, berries, and other fruits along with eggs, insects, and small animals. They are true omnivores. They get nutrition they need from both animal and plant foods.

Humans are primates. We are specifically part of the Great Ape category. Which begs the question of what Great Apes eat. While there are some animal foods, gorillas eat mostly plant foods. If they can grow as big and strong as they do eating fruits, shoots, and barks with some ants and their larvae in for good measure, why do we insist that we need to eat as much meat as we do? And should we even really eat meat?

As I have previously discussed, meat is not healthy for humans to eat. Neither are eggs or dairy for that matter. So are we truly omnivores as many like to call themselves? And are those who choose to eat only plant foods vegetarians (or worse, vegans)? Or are we actually herbivores – or even starchivores – and those who choose to eat meat are omnitarians?

I’ll be honest, though. I like the ring of starchitarian. I think it just sounds nice. And maybe that’s what I am since I focus my diet on cooked whole starch foods like grains, potatoes, and hard skinned squashes. Maybe the true herbivores are the raw vegans who eat fruits and veggies predominantly.

How do you define your eating patterns? Has this changed how you describe yourself? Let’s talk!

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