Vegetarianism refers to the belief and practice of eating foods derived from the plant kingdom only. Meat or slaughtered animals (e.g. fish, shellfish, fowl, poultry) is typically excluded from the diet, as well as animal products or produce such as honey and eggs. Vegetarianism practice, however, varies, with some abstaining from meat but not from animal products like eggs.
Based on their strictness of diet, there are four types of vegetarians:
* Lacto-ovo-vegetarianism diet excludes meat, poultry, and fish but includes eggs, dairy, and honey.
* Lacto-vegetarianism excludes meat, poultry, fish, and eggs but consumes dairy and honey.
* Ovo-vegetarianism excludes meat, poultry, fish, and dairy; eats eggs and honey.
* Veganism excludes all meats and other foods derived from animals such as milk, cheese, eggs, and honey.
WHY PEOPLE GO VEGETARIAN
Though vegetarianism has been practiced for centuries by societies such as India, it’s popularity in the western world surged only in the 20th century, particularly due to the growing concern on how to improve bodily health. Some have adopted vegetarianism for ideological reasons (e.g. environmental and economic vegetarianism).
Health and nutrition
Various studies have shown that a diet that abstains from meat lower one’s risk of getting deadly diseases such as heart disease. Consumption of meat has been linked with increased risk of developing cancer.
Regular consumption of vegetables, on the other hand, lowers one’s risk for developing diseases such as cancer, hypertension, and osteoporosis. Vegetarian diet provides nutrients such as carbohydrates, fiber, and folate, high levels of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. These elements are essential in combating or preventing development of diseases. Vegetables have also low levels of cholesterol and saturated fat, and so prevent heart disease and hypertension.
According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians have lower body mass index. This is because vegetables are rich in essential nutrients and amino acids, yet low in cholesterol, trans-fat, and saturated fat. People who’d like to lose or control body weight the healthy way must resort to a vegetarian diet.
Indians account for approximately 70% of the world’s vegetarians. Majority of the Indian’s vegetarianism is directly linked with their Hindu belief that all animals are sacred. Buddhism and Jainism also holds vegetarianism as a moral conduct that can help believers achieve spiritual progress. Jainism espouses all-around non-violence , while Theravadin Buddhists consider taking of life and eating meat as sinful acts.
Commercial production of meat and animal products or industrial animal farming, according to a United Nations report, is one of the top contributors of air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. Forests have been lost: millions of acres of vegetation have been cleared to make way for cattle grazing. Growing of crops to feed the animals take up almost 50% of the US’ water supply . 80% of all agricultural land in the country is used to grow these crops.
Animal production is many times more expensive than grain or vegetable production. Economic vegetarians believe that raising of animals for meat consumption requires use of resources that could otherwise be used to curb world starvation.
Some people believe that animals are sentient beings and have rights to live as much as humans. Killing of animals, therefore, is viewed as morally wrong.