Why Aren't Vegetarians Called Herbivores?

Why Aren’t Vegetarians Called Herbivores? They Both Eat Plants?

Vegetarians don’t eat meat like herbivores so why aren’t vegetarians called herbivores?

Consuming a vegetarian diet and being a herbivore are not the same thing. A Vegetarian is a person that has chosen a specific diet that excludes animal products. Herbivores are born with physical characteristics that only enable them to consume plant life for energy.

What Are Herbivores?

Herbivores are animals whose primary food source are plants.

What Are The Characteristics Of A Herbivore?

  • Herbivores like cows, sheep, and horses have wide blunt teeth. These teeth are great for pulling plants out of the ground and grinding them.
  • Squirrels on the other hand have two sharp front teeth that they use to break open nuts.
  • Herbivores like camels and cows have the ability to bring back previously swallowed food to chew again for better absorption of the nutrients.
  • Herbivores require a large amount of energy to survive.
  • Herbivores have acidic saliva and start digesting food as soon as it entire their mouths.
  • Herbivores have multiple stomachs or one stomach with multiple compartments to aid in digestion.

What Types Of Plants Do Herbivores Eat?

Herbivores can be classified into groups depending on the types of plants they eat.


Grazers like horses, cows, and buffalo eat manly grasses. Their bodies have two stomachs to help digest the food. The first stomach can hold a large amount of food and releases the food slowly for digestion.


Browsers like elephants, giraffes, and black rhinos eat leaves, flowers, and twigs from woody plants. These animals also have two stomachs but, their first stomach is much smaller than the grazers because their food is much easier to digest.


Intermediate feeders like sheep and elk are an interesting group. They can vary their diet between browsing and grazing based on the seasonal availability of foods.


Granivores like many birds, bugs, and rodents eat seeds. Some eat the entire seed while others just consume the insides.


Frugivores survive mainly on raw fruits. A couple of examples are bats and orangutans.

What Do Herbivores Eat

Why Do Herbivores Not Eat Meat?

Let’s take a look at the main charactoristics of carnivores.

  • Carnivores have large dagger-like canine teeth to aid in consuming the flesh
  • They also have small pointy incisors
  • Carnivores have four or five clawed toes on each limb
  • Carnivores have a short digestive tract
  • A carnivore’s stomach is much larger than an herbivores stomach
  • Their stomachs contain roughly 10 times that amount of hydrochloric acid in their stomachs compared to humans or herbivores

Are Vegetarians Herbivores?

Vegetarians are not herbivores.

A vegetarian is a title or diet that is followed by those that do not consume meat. Herbivores, on the other hand, are animals whose body is created to only consume plant matter.

Humans do not have the same body structure as herbivores. We do not have flat wide blunt teeth, multiple stomachs, and acidic saliva.

Are Vegetarians Herbivores

Are Humans Omnivores?

There is a lot of debate over exactly where humans fall. Are humans omnivores or something else?

For certain humans are not herbivores or carnivores. We do not have the same body structure as herbivores or carnivores.

Humans more opportunistic eaters. We are able to consume both plants and meat but, we do not require meat to survive.

Are humans frugivores? The bonobo, with whom we share 99% of our DNA with consumes a diet of 90% in-season fruits.

We may be an omnivore, frugivore, or somewhere in between. Regardless of where we fall as humans, it’s clear that eating foods from nature like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and maybe even meat is the most natural diet for a human.

Are Vegetarians Omnivores?

Why Are Vegans Not Called Herbivores?

Human beings do not have the same body structure as an herbivore. A vegan is a person who has chosen a diet that doesn’t consist of any animal products.

Examples Of Herbivores


  • Antelopes
  • Bison
  • Camel
  • Cow
  • Deer
  • Elephant
  • Fruit Bats
  • Giant Panda
  • Giraffe
  • Goat
  • Gorilla
  • Hippo
  • Horse
  • Iguana
  • Kangaroo
  • Koala
  • Manatee
  • Okapi
  • Rabbit
  • Reindeer
  • Rhino
  • Sheep
  • Zebra

Did you know that the five largest land animals are herbivores. World Atlas has a great article on Why The World’s Largest Animals Are Plant Eaters.

What Animals Are Herbivores?

What Do Herbivores Eat?

Each herbivore has a specific die. Caterpillars for example eat only one type of plant, while others like elephants can eat a wide variety of plants that includes flowers, fruits, leaves, and shoots.

Many plants are low on nutrients which require the animal to eat almost continually. These are mainly your grazers.

Seeds are packed with nutrients and provide lots of energy to those who consume them like squirrels and some birds.

What do herbivores eat

Herbivores Are Also Called

Herbivores are also called primary consumers. They are the first consumers in the food chain.

Where Are Herbivores In The Food Chain?


At the bottom of the food chain, we find the producers. Plants are the natural producers that supply food to the consumers.


Herbivores are second on the food chain. They consume the producers.


The predators can consume producers, herbivores and other predators.


When an animal dies its body decomposes and scavengers assist in breaking them down. The body is absorbed back into the food chain.


Vegetarians are not the same as herbivores.

A Vegetarian is a diet or being that excludes eating animal products.

Herbivores are animals whose body structures are created in a specific way to only process plant matter for energy.

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