Types of Plant-Based Diets and Their Famous Followers

Plant-based diets have received an increasing amount of media attention over the past several years. Yet many may feel confused over what exactly these diets involve.

Here is a list of eight different types of plant-based diets, including some renowned devotees.

Plant-based diets

1. Vegetarianism

Vegetarians may eat dairy products and eggs but not any meat. According to the Vegetarian Society, a vegetarian is “Someone who lives on a diet of grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter.” Many celebrities call themselves vegetarian, from Paris Hilton to Ariana Huffington.

2. Semi-Vegetarianism (Flexitarianism)

A semi-vegetarian adheres to a plant-based diet but occasionally eats meat. This category includes food writer Mark Bittman.

3. Veganism

Vegans do not eat any animal products (dietary vegans). Some vegans go further and choose not to use any animal products at all, including leather or wool clothing (ethical vegans). Bill Clinton now eats vegan due to health concerns. Other well-known vegans include actresses Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway as well as talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

4. Raw Veganism

Raw vegans combine veganism with raw foodism (rawism) by avoiding all animal products and not cooking food above a maximum 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Adherents to this diet believe that greater heat destroys foods’ micronutrients. In addition, some proponents think that cooking foods produces dangerous chemicals. Actress Demi Moore maintains a raw vegan diet.

5. Herbivore

Herbivores are plant-eating animals. In terms of a dietary choice for humans, it generally refers to vegans and vegetarians. Lindsay Nixon, known as the author of the Happy Herbivore books, describes herself as eating a strictly vegan diet.

6. Fruitarianism

Fruitarians eat fruit, nuts and seeds but avoid animal products, vegetables and grains. Michael Arnstein has competed in ultramarathons and Ironman Triathlons as a fruitarian. The most famous fruitarian may have been Steve Jobs.

7. Macrobiotic Diet

Hippocrates originated the term macrobiotics, which he used to describe healthy, long-lived people. Today this diet combines principles of Zen Buddhism with Western-style vegetarianism. Practitioners choose foods to obtain a balance of yin and yang. Whether foods taste sour, sharp, salty, sweet or bitter determines pairings. Whole grains take up about half of a macrobiotic diet, followed by vegetables, beans, fish, seeds and nuts. Followers consume substantial amounts of soup. This low-fat, high fiber diet relies on minimally processed foods, locally sourced if possible. Low-fat meats and fish are allowed, making this not a strictly vegetarian plan. How foods affect well-being takes prominence. Tom Cruise follows a macrobiotic diet.

8. Nutritarian

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live author, coined the term nutritarian to describe choosing foods based on maximizing the amount of micronutrients per calorie. He advocates for a diet consisting of mostly vegetables, with fruits, beans, seeds, and grains following. Fewer calories should come from poultry, oil, eggs and fat-free dairy. Finally, beef, cheese, processed foods and sweets should be minimized. In public, Dr. Fuhrman seems to avoid advocating for a vegan diet. However, his writings definitely emphasize eating only low-fat, strictly vegan foods. His list of seven worst foods for health includes: butter, cheese, potato chips and French fries, doughnuts, salt, processed meats and barbecued or smoked meat.


Each of these diets has its subscribers. Their details and philosophies may vary somewhat, but all stress the importance of a plant-based diet.