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Category : Vegetarianism

What 6 World Religions Have To Say About Vegetarianism

No, this is not a sermon. You have no excuse to fall asleep.

Vegetarianism has a strong tradition in Judaism, as the original design for the Garden of Eden. In an early chapter of Genesis it is written that, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food." The Book of Daniel is also viewed as a bedrock of religious support for vegetarianism. When the prophet Daniel and three fellow slaves were in captivity, they were offered the Kings rich diet but refused and asked for only vegetables to eat, and water to drink. This verse has led to both a 10-day cleansing program and the highly successful lifestyle change program at the Saddleback Church in southern California.

Jewish dietary law stresses avoidance of cruelty to animals, whether in the production of food or as beasts of burden. More can be learned about the rich culture of green Judaism at http://www.jewishveg.com. Out of interest, I wanted to find out if there are organizations promoting vegetarian diets in other world religions.

Christianity: Amongst the many branches of Christianity, the strongest teachings come within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Founder Ellen White was vegetarian, and lacto-ovo-vegetarianism is officially promoted. Research on followers of this religion has been helpful in demonstrating better health and lifespan in those adhering to plant-based diets. There are groups of scholars that maintain Jesus was a vegetarian.

Islam: Vegetarianism among Muslims is an active movement stressing kindness, mercy and compassion for animals. The mainstream of Muslims who eat meat often follow laws called halal, which allow clean animals that are properly slaughtered. Certain animals are not permitted, depending on how they are killed, and pork is also forbidden.

Hinduism: There is a strong tradition of vegetarianism in the Hindu religions, stemming from the Krishna cult and the reverence for the sacred cow. Vegetarianism is viewed as a daily sadhana or spiritual practice by many Hindus.

Buddhism: There is a strong tradition of vegetarianism in Buddhism and Mahayah monks are strict followers as well as many lay followers.

Jainism: Originating about the same time as the Hindu and Buddhist religions, Jainism stresses the practice of ahimsa or non violence. Jains believe in abstaining from meat and honey, and harming any living creature even insects is avoided.

Lessons of mercy to animals and respect for the planet found in many of the world religions are just one of the many paths that may lead you to choose a plant-based diet. In our open society, where the cruelty and excess of concentrated animal feeding operations has been well documented in several popular movies, ahimsa takes on new urgency. Whatever basis forms your path towards whole food and plant-based meals, you will share a strong tradition with many ethically concerned individuals. In the words of Albert Einstein, Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.

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What 6 World Religions Have To Say About Vegetarianism

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56 Delicious Vegetarianism Facts | FactRetriever.com

1Andrews, Ryan.Drop The Fat Act and Live Lean. Summertown, TN: Healthy Living Publication.2012.

2Cox, Peter. You Dont Need Meat. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2002.

3Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Company, 2009.

4Freston, Kathy. "A Vegan Diet (Hugely) Helpful Against Cancer." The Huffington Post. December 9, 2012. Updated: February 8, 2013. Accessed: August 25, 2016.

5Hellmich, Nanci. USDA: Eggs Cholesterol Level Better Than Cracked Up to Be. USA Today. February 8, 2011. Accessed: February 23, 2013.

6MacRae, Fiona. Real Men Must Eat Meat, Say Women as They Turn up Their Noses at Vegetarians. Daily Mail. February 1, 2011. Accessed: February 17, 2013.

7Nelson, Dean. India Tells West to Stop Eating Beef. The Telegraph. November 20, 2009. Accessed: February 17, 2013.

8Pamer, Melissa. Meatless Mondays: LA Urges Residents to Turn Vegetarian One Day a Week. U.S. News. November 10, 2012. Accessed: November 26, 2012.

9Plant-based Protein Sources. SoyStache. 2012. Accessed: November 26, 2012.

10Robbins, John. Diet for a New America. Tiburon, CA: Stillpoint Publishing, 1987.

11Saunders, Kerrie K. The Vegan Diet as Chronic Disease Prevention. New York, NY: Lantern Books, 2003.

12Spencer, Colin.Vegetarianism: A History. New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2000.

13Stuart, Tristram.The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.

14The Number of Vegetarians in the World. Raw Food Health. Accessed: February 23, 2013.

15Wanjek, Christopher. Sorry Vegans, Eating Meat and Cooking Food Is How Humans Got Their Big Brains. The Washington Post. November 26, 2012. Accessed: February 17, 2013.

16Williams, Amanda. Vegetarians Have a Better Sex Life: Eating Tofu Can Boost You in the Bedroom, New Study Claims. Daily Mail. November 23, 2012. Accessed: February 17, 2013.

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56 Delicious Vegetarianism Facts | FactRetriever.com

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Twenty-Two Reasons Not to Go Vegetarian

Currently making the rounds on the internet is an article resurrected from a 1999 issue of Vegetarian Times, 22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian.

Consider making this healthy choice as one of your new years resolutions. . . says the teaser. Stacks of studies confirm that a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and grains is your best bet for living a longer, healthier and more enjoyable life. There are literally hundreds of great reasons to switch to a plant-based diet; here are 22 of the best.

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that a plant-based diet is not necessarily the same as a vegan diet, and that in the US a diet containing fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a marker for prosperity and health consciousness (and therefore would naturally give better results than a diet lacking in these items), lets look first at the American origins of the premise that a diet composed largely of fruits, vegetables and grains (presumably whole grains) is a passport to good health.

The American Vegetarian Society was founded in 1850 by Sylvester Graham (1794- 1851), an early advocate of dietary reform in United States and the inventor of Graham bread, made from chemical-free unsifted flour. Highly influential, Graham promoted vegetarianism and a high-fiber diet as a cure for alcoholism and lust. Graham preached that an unhealthy diet (one containing the confounding variables of meat and white flour) stimulated excessive sexual desire, which irritated the body and caused disease.

John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) followed in Grahams footsteps. Inventor of corn flakes and a process for making peanut butter, Kellogg advocated a high-fiber vegetarian diet to combat the twin evils of constipation and natural urges. Kellogg preached against sexual activity even in marriage.

Today we recognize the demonization and suppression of natural urges as a recipe for the pathological expression thereof; in fact wed probably label Graham and Kellogg as nut cases suffering from serious insecurities. But the diet proposed to accomplish their goal of character building and social piety is still with us, enshrined, in fact, in the government-sanctioned food pyramid based on grains, vegetables and fruits with the addition of small amounts of lowfat animal foods. Lop off the top of the pyramid and you have the vegan diet, still promoted with religious fervor even though its original dogmatic basis has been forgotten. The language of moral rectitude still lurks in the vegetarian arguments of sexually liberated New Age youth.

With these paradoxes in mind, lets examine the 22 reasons given for adopting a vegan diet.

Vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University. These findings are backed up by the China Health Project (the largest population study on diet and health to date), which found that Chinese people who eat the least amount of fat and animal products have the lowest risks of cancer, heart attack and other chronic degenerative diseases.

Reference please? We havent found such statistics in a search of the medical database.

In spite of claims to stacks of studies, there is actually very little scientific literature that carefully compares mortality and disease rates in vegetarians and nonvegetarians. In 1991, Dr. Russell Smith, a statistician, analyzed the existing studies on vegetariansim1 and discovered that while a number of studies show that vegetarian diets significantly decrease blood cholesterol levels, very few have evaluated the effects of vegetarian diets on overall mortality. His careful analysis (see sidebar below) revealed no benefit from vegetarianism in terms of overall mortality or longevity. In fact, Smith speculated on the possibility that the available data from the many existing prospective studies were left unpublished because they failed to reveal any benefits of the vegetarian diet. He notes, for example, mortality statistics are strangely absent from the Tromso Heart Study in Norway, which showed that vegetarians had slightly lower blood cholesterol levels than nonvegetarians.2

Since the publication of Russell Smiths analysis, two significant reports on vegetarianism and mortality have appeared in the literature. One was a 2005 German paper that compared mortality in German vegetarians and health-conscious persons in a 21-year followup.7 By comparing vegetarians with health-conscious meat eaters, the German researchers eliminated the major problem in studies that claim to have found better mortality rates in vegetarians compared to the general population. Vegetarians tend not to smoke, drink alcohol or indulge in sugar and highly processed foods. To compare these individuals to meat-eaters on the typical western diet will naturally yield results that favor vegetarianism. But in the German study, both vegetarians and nonvegetarian health-conscious persons had reduced mortality compared with the general population, and it was other factorslow prevalence of smoking and moderate or high levels of physical activitythat were associated with reduced overall mortality, not the vegetarian diet.

The other was a 2003 report that followed up on The Health Food Shoppers Study in the 1970s and the Oxford Vegetarians Study in the 1980s.8 The mortality of both the vegetarians and the nonvegetarians in these studies was low compared with national rates in the UK. Within the studies, mortality for major causes of death was not significantly different between vegetarians and nonvegetarians, although there was a non-significant reduction in mortality from ischemic heart disease among vegetarians.

As for Colin Campbells China Study, often cited as proof that plant-based diets are healthier than those containing animal foods, the data on consumption and disease patterns collected by the Cornell University researchers in their massive dietary survey do not support such claims. What the researchers discovered was that meat eaters had lower triglycerides and less cirrhosis of the liver, but otherwise they found no strong correlation, either negative or positive, with meat eating and any disease.9

In his introduction to the research results, study director Campbell refers to considerable contemporary evidence supporting the hypothesis that the lowest risk for cancer is generated by the consumption of a variety of fresh plant products.10 Yet Cornell researchers found that the consumption of green vegetables, which ranged from almost 700 grams per day to zero, depending on the region, showed no correlation, either positive or negative, with any disease. Dietary fiber intake seemed to protect against esophageal cancer, but was positively correlated with higher levels of TB, neurological disorders and nasal cancer. Fiber intake did not confer any significant protection against heart disease or most cancers, including cancer of the bowel.

In a 1999 article published in Spectrum, Campbell claimed the Cornell findings suggested that a diet high in animal products produces disease, and a diet high in grains, vegetables and other plant matter produces health.11 Such statements by the now-famous Campbell are misleading, to put it mildly, and have influenced many unsuspecting consumers to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle in the hopes of improving their health.

Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer in the United States, and the standard American diet (SAD) thats laden with saturated fat and cholesterol from meat and dairy is largely to blame. Plus, produce contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Incidentally, cholesterol levels for vegetarians are 14 percent lower than meat eaters

Stacks of evidence now exist to refute the notion that cholesterol levels and consumption of saturated fat have anything to do with heart disease, but this is a convenient theory for promoting vegetable oil consumption at the expense of animal fats. The International Atherosclerosis Project found that vegetarians had just as much atherosclerosis as meat eaters.12 Vegetarians also have higher levels of homocysteine, a risk marker for heart disease.13

The standard American diet is not, unfortunately, laden with saturated fat and cholesterol. It is, however, laden with trans fats and refined vegetable oils, both derived from plants, and it is these processed fats and oils that are associated with the increase in heart disease, not saturated animal fats.

Replacing meat, chicken and fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills.

Some plant foods, such as nuts and breakfast cereals, are very expensive. And any analysis of your food budget must necessarily include medical and dental expenses, and also account for reduced income due to missed days at work, lack of energy and the behavioral difficulties that result from B12 deficiency. A lowcost vegetarian diet that renders you incapable of performing a well-paid, high-stress jobthe kind that allows you to put money into a mutual fundis a poor bargain in the long-term.

Studies done at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg suggest that this is because vegetarians immune systems are more effective in killing off tumour cells than meat eaters. Studies have also found a plant-based diet helps protect against prostate, colon and skin cancers.

The claim that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer compared to nonvegetarians has been squarely contradicted by a 1994 study comparing vegetarians with the general population.14 Researchers found that although vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists have the same or slightly lower cancer rates for some sites, for example 91 percent instead of 100 percent for breast cancer, the rates for numerous other cancers are much higher than the general US population standard, especially cancers of the reproductive tract. SDA females had more Hodgkins disease (131 percent), more brain cancer (118 percent), more malignant melanoma (171 percent), more uterine cancer (191 percent), more cervical cancer (180 percent) and more ovarian cancer (129 percent) on average.

According to scientists at the Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, Studies of cancer have not shown clear differences in cancer rates between vegetarians and non vegetarians.15

Meat, chicken and fish tend to come in boring shades of brown and beige, but fruits and vegetables come in all colors of the rainbow. Disease fighting phytochemicals are responsible for giving produce their rich, varied hues. So cooking by color is a good way to ensure youre eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses

Salmon, eggs and butter have beautiful color. Nothing prevents meat-eaters from adding color to their plate by using a variety of vegetables and fruits. The nutrients from these plant foods will be more easily absorbed if you serve them with butter or cream. Animal foods provide an abundance of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.

On average, vegetarians are slimmer than meat eaters, and when we diet, we keep the weight off up to seven years longer. Thats because diets that are higher in vegetable proteins are much lower in fat and calories than the SAD. Vegetarians are also less likely to fall victim to weight-related disorders like heart disease, stroke and diabetes

Studies do show that vegetarians on average have lower body mass than non-vegetarians, but vegetarianism does not confer protection from stroke and diabetes and provides only minimal protection against heart disease. Some people do gain weightlots of weighton a vegetarian diet and many vegetarians are far too thin.

Giving up meat helps purge the body of toxins (pesticides, environmental pollutants, preservatives) that overload our systems and cause illness. When people begin formal detoxification programs, their first step is to replace meats and dairy products with fruits and vegetables and juices.

There are no studies showing that elimination of meat from the diet helps purge the body of toxins. The wording is interesting as it implies that vegetarianism will render a sinful body pure.

Most plant foods today are loaded with pesticides and many components in animal products support the bodys detoxification systemsuch as iron in meat, amino acids in bone broths, vitamin A in liver and saturated fat in butter.

No doubt about it, however, toxins are everywhere, in plant foods and animal foods. Health conscious consumers need to do their best to reduce the toxic load by choosing organic plant foods and pasture-raised animal foods.

The Honolulu Heart Study found an interesting correlation of Parkinsons disease with the consumption of fruit and fruit juices.16 Men who consumed one or more servings of fruit or fruit drinks per day were twice as likely to develop Parkinsons as those who consumed less fruit. Commentators proposed either high levels of pesticides or natural nerve toxins called isoquinolones that occur in fruit as the cause. Salicylates are another component of fruit that can lead to problems. So even the consumption of healthy fruit is not necessarily safe.

Its a wonderful thing to be able to finish a delicious meal, knowing that no beings have suffered to make it

Not a single bite of food reaches our mouths that has not involved the killing of animals. By some estimates, at least 300 animals per acreincluding mice, rats, moles, groundhogs and birdsare killed for the production of vegetable and grain foods, often in gruesome ways. Only one animal per acre is killed for the production of grass-fed beef and no animal is killed for the production of grass-fed milk until the end of the life of the dairy cow.

And what about the human beings, especially growing human beings, who are suffering from nutrient deficiencies and their concomitant health problems as a consequence of a vegetarian diet? Or does only animal suffering count?

Of course, we should all work for the elimination of confinement animal facilities, which do cause a great deal of suffering in our animals, not to mention desecration of the environment. This will be more readily accomplished by the millions of meat eaters opting for grass-fed animal foods than by the smaller numbers of vegetarians boycotting meat.

Vegetarians wishing to make a political statement should strive for consistency. Cows are slaughtered not only to put steak on the table, but to obtain components used in soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, plastics, pharmaceuticals, waxes (as in candles and crayons), modern building materials and hydraulic brake fluid for airplanes. The membrane that vibrates in your telephone contains beef gelatin. So to avoid hypocrisy, vegetarians need to also refrain from using anything made of plastic, talking on the telephone, flying in airplanes, letting their kids use crayons, and living or working in modern buildings.

The ancestors of modern vegetarians would not have survived without using animal products like fur to keep warm, leather to make footwear, belts, straps and shelter, and bones for tools. In fact, the entire interactive network of life on earth, from the jellyfish to the judge, is based on the sacrifice of animals and the use of animal foods. Theres no escape from dependence on slaughtered animals, not even for really good vegan folks who feel wonderful about themselves as they finish their vegan meal.

Vegetables are endlessly interesting to cook and a joy to eat. Its an ever-changing parade of flavors and colors and textures and tastes.

To make processed vegetarian foods taste delicious, manufacturers load them up with MSG and artificial flavors that imitate the taste of meat. If you are cooking from scratch, it is difficult to satisfy all the taste buds with dishes lacking animal foods. The umami taste is designed to be satisfied with animal foods.

In practice, very few people are satisfied with the flavors and tastes of a diet based exclusively on plant foods, even when these foods are loaded up with artificial flavors, which is why it is so difficult for most people to remain on a vegan diet. Vegetables are a lot more interesting and bring us a lot more joy when dressed with egg yolks and cream or cooked in butter or lard. But if you are a vegan, youll be using either liquid or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, both extremely toxic.

Livestock farms create phenomenal amounts of waste, tons of manure, a substance thats rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a top pollutant. And thats not even counting the methane gas released by goats, pigs and poultry (which contributes to the greenhouse effect); the ammonia gases from urine; poison gases that emanate from manure lagoons; toxic chemicals from pesticides; and exhaust from farm equipment used to raise feed for animals.

The problem is not animals, which roamed the earth in huge numbers emitting methane, urine and manure long before humans came on the scene, but their concentration into confinement facilities. Only strong, committed, persistent and focused human effort will accomplish the goal of eliminating these abominationsthe kind of strength, commitment, persistence and focus that only animal foods rich in cholesterol, zinc, good fats and vitamin B12 can sustain. In nature and on old-fashioned farms, the urine and manure from animals is not a pollutant but a critical input that nourishes plant life. As for methane, the theory that methane from animals contributes to global warming is just thata theory, one that doesnt even pass the test of common sense.

Without urine and manure to nourish the soil, plant farmers need more pesticides, more chemicals. And theres only one way to eliminate exhaust from farm equipment used to raise plant foods for vegan dietspull those plows with horses and mules.

The average bone loss for a vegetarian woman at age 65 is 18 percent; for non-vegetarian women, its double that. Researchers attribute this to the consumption of excess protein. Excess protein interferes with the absorption and retention of calcium and actually prompts the body to excrete calcium, laying the ground for the brittle bone disease osteoporosis. Animal proteins, including milk, make the blood acidic, and to balance that condition, the body pulls calcium from bones. So rather than rely on milk for calcium, vegetarians turn to dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and legumes, which, calorie for calorie, are superior sources

References, please?

The theory that excess protein causes bone loss was first presented in 196817 and followed up in 1972 with a study comparing bone density of vegetarians and meat eaters.18 Twenty-five British lacto-ovo vegetarians were matched for age and sex with an equal number of omnivores. Bone density, determined by reading X-rays of the third finger metacarpal, was found to be significantly higher in the vegetariansthese are lacto-ovo vegetarians, not vegans, so they will have good calcium intake.

Dr. Herta Spencer, of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Illinois, explains that the animal and human studies that correlated calcium loss with high protein diets used isolated, fractionated amino acids from milk or eggs.19 Her studies show that when protein is given as meat, subjects do not show any increase in calcium excreted, or any significant change in serum calcium, even over a long period.20 Other investigators found that a high-protein intake increased calcium absorption when dietary calcium was adequate or high, but not when calcium intake was a low 500 mg per day.21

So meat alone will not help build strong bones. But meat plus dairy is an excellent combination. The chart below illustrates the difficulty of obtaining adequate calcium from green leafy vegetables or legumes and contradicts the claim made above that leafy green vegetables and legumes supply more calcium on a per-calorie basis. The opposite is the case. The RDA for calcium can be met for under 700 calories using cheese or milk, but requires 1200 calories for spinach and 5100 calories for lentils. And not even the most dedicated vegetarians could choke down 13 cups of spinach or 32 cups of lentils (that would be almost doubled once the lentils were cooked) per day (see sidebar, below). Leafy greens present additional problems because they contain calcium-binding oxalic acid.

Calcium assimilation requires not only adequate protein but also fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, found only in animal fats. The lactoovo vegetarian consuming butter and full fat milk will take in the types of nutrients needed to maintain healthy bone mass, but not the vegan.

It takes 15 pounds of feed to get one pound of meat. But if the grain were given directly to people, thered be enough food to feed the entire planet. In addition, using land for animal agriculture is inefficient in terms of maximizing food production. According to the journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250 pounds of beef.

No land anywhere in the world will produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes or 30,000 pounds of carrots per acre year after year after year unless bolstered with fertilizer. Such land rotated with animal grazing will be fertilized naturally; without the manure and urine of animals, synthetics must be appliedsynthetics that require large amounts of energy to produce and leave problematic pollutants, such as fluoride compounds, as a by-product. And much of the worlds landmountainous, hillside, arid and marginal areasis incapable of producing harvestable crops even with a large fertilizer input. But this land will support animal life very well. Eliminating the animals on this land in order to produce vegetable crops will indeed create famine for the people who live there.

The EPA estimates that nearly 95 per cent of pesticide residue in our diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic; lead, cadmium) that cannot be removed through cooking or freezing. Meat and dairy products are also laced with steroids and hormones.

Pesticides and heavy metals are found in animal foods only because they are applied to plant foods that feed the animals. Pasture-based livestock production and wild caught fish do not contribute to pesticide residue. Conventionally raised vegetables and grains are loaded with chemicals.

Vitamin A obtained in adequate amounts from animal foods provides powerful protection against dioxins like PCBs and DDT.23 Vitamin B12 is also protective. Good gut flora prevents their absorption. Humans have always had to deal with environmental carcinogenssmoke is loaded with themand heavy metals like mercury, which occur naturally in fish. We can deal with these challenges when we have adequate amounts of the nutrients supplied by animal foods.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has stringent food standards, 25 per cent of all chicken sold in the United States carries salmonella bacteria and, the CDC estimates, 70 percent to 90 percent of chickens contain the bacteria campylobacter (some strains of which are antibiotic-resistant), approximately 5 percent of cows carry the lethal strain of E. coli O157:H7 (which causes virulent diseases and death), and 30 percent of pigs slaughtered each year for food are infected with toxoplasmosis (caused by parasites).

The most common source of food-borne illness by a long shot is fruits and vegetables.24 Problems with animal foods stem from factory farming practices. Milk, meat and eggs raised naturally do not present problems of food-borne illness.

Back pain appears to begin, not in the back, but in the arteries. The degeneration of discs, for instance, which leads to nerves being pinched, starts with the arteries leading to the back. Eating a plant-based diet keeps these arteries clear of cholesterol-causing blockages to help maintain a healthy back.

This item is pure speculation. One of the most common side effects of cholesterol-lowering is crippling back pain. The muscles that support our spine require animal foods to maintain their integrity. And the bones in our spine need a good source of calcium, namely dairy products or bone broth, to remain strong.

Eating a lot of vegetables necessarily means consuming fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fiber. Studies done at Harvard and Brigham Womens Hospital found that people who ate a high-fiber diet had a 42 percent lower risk of diverticulitis. People who eat lower on the food chain also tend to have fewer incidences of constipation, hemorrhoids and spastic colon.

Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace, begs to differ. He notes that because fiber indeed slows down the digestive process, it interferes with the digestion in the stomach and, later, clogs the intestines. The results of delayed indigestion (dyspepsia) include heartburn (GERD), gastritis (the inflammation of the stomachs mucosal membrane), peptic ulcers, enteritis (inflammation of the intestinal mucosal membrane), and further down the tube, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohns disease. Hemorrhoids and diverticulitis are other likely resultsscientific studies do not support the theory that fiber prevents these conditions.25

Plants, grains and legumes contain phytoestrogens that are believed to balance fluctuating hormones, so vegetarian women tend to go through menopause with fewer complaints of sleep problems, hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, depression and a diminished sex drive.

Lets see now, hormones in meat and milk are bad (see Item 13), but by tortured vegetarian logic, hormones in plant foods are good. Where is the research showing that vegetarian women go through menopause with fewer complaints? Numerous studies have shown that the phytoestrogens in soy foods have an inconsistent effect on hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.26

The body needs cholesterol, vitamin A, vitamin D and other animal nutrients for hormone production. A vegetarian diet devoid of these nutrients is a recipe for menopausal problems, fatigue and diminished sex drivethe dietary proscriptions of the puritanical Graham and Kellogg work very well for their intended purpose, which is to wipe out libido in both men and women.

Lack of cholesterol, vitamin D and vitamin B12 is a recipe for mood swings and depression. If you want to have a happy menopause, dont be a vegetarian!

We spend large amounts annually to treat the heart disease, cancer, obesity, and food poisoning that are byproducts of a diet heavy on animal products.

We have commented on the link between vegetarianism and heart disease, cancer, obesity and food poisoning above. The main change in the American diet paralleling the huge increase in health problems is the substitution of vegetable oils for animal fats. A secondary change is the industrialization of agriculture. The solution to our health crisis is to return to pasture-based farming methods and the animal food-rich diets of our ancestors.

Because of our voracious appetite for fish, 39 per cent of the oceans fish species are over-harvested, and the Food & Agriculture Organization reports that 11 of 15 of the worlds major fishing grounds have become depleted.

Lets pass laws against overfishing! And lets provide the incentive to anti-overfishing activists by pointing out the important benefits of seafood in the diet.

It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of mutton, but just 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat. Not only is this wasteful, but it contributes to rampant water pollution.

Reference please?

If a sheep drinks one gallon of water per day which is a lotthe animal would only need about 600 gallons of water to yield almost eighty pounds of meat. Thats less than eight gallons of water per pound, much less than the water required to produce a pound of wheat.

If you set a good example and feed your children good food, chances are theyll live a longer and healthier life. Youre also providing a market for vegetarian products and making it more likely that theyll be available for the children.

You may not ever have any children if you follow a vegan diet, and in case you do, you will be condemning your kids to a life of poor health and misery. Heres what Dutch researcher P C Dagnelie has to say about the risks of a vegetarian diet: A vegan diet. . . leads to strongly increased risk of deficiencies of vitamin B12, vitamin B2 and several minerals, such as calcium, iron and zinc. . . even a lacto-vegetarian diet produces an increased risk of deficiencies of vitamin B12 and possibly certain minerals such as iron.27 These deficiencies can adversely affect not only physical growth but also neurological development. And following a vegan diet while pregnant is a recipe for disaster.

You will, however, by embracing vegetarianism, provide a market for vegetarian productsthe kind of highly processed, high-profit foods advertised in Vegetarian Times.

Vegetarian cooking has never been so simple. We live in a country that has been vegetarian by default. Our traditional dishes are loaded with the goodness of vegetarian food. Switching over is very simple indeed.

Going vegetarian is very difficult. The body needs animal foods and provides a powerful drive to eat them. Cravings and resentment are a natural byproduct of a vegetarian diet, not to mention separation from the the majority of humankind by unnatural eating habits and sense of moral rectitude.

Sidebars

by Russell Smith

Russell Smith, PhD, was a statistician and critic of the lipid heart theory of heart disease. He is the author of the massive Diet, Blood Cholesterol and Coronary Heart Disease: A Critical Review of the Literature (1991, Vector Enterprises), as well as The Cholesterol Conspiracy (Warren H. Green, Inc., 1991). As part of his efforts to reveal the flimsiness of the theoretical basis for the lipid hypothesis, he also looked at studies on vegetarianism in the scientific literature.

In a review of some 3,000 articles, Smith found only two that compared mortality data for vegetarians and nonvegetarians. One was a 1978 study of Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) to which the above unreferenced claim probably refers. Two very poor analyses of the data were published in 1984, one by H. A. Kahn and one by D. A. Snowden.3 The publication by Kahn rather arbitrarily threw out most of the data and considered only subjects who indicated very infrequent or very frequent consumption of the various foods. The author then computed odds ratios which showed that mortality increased as meat or poultry consumption increased (but not for cheese, eggs, milk or fat attached to meat). When Smith analyzed total mortality rates from the study as a function of the frequencies of consuming cheese, meat, milk, eggs and fat attached to meat, he found that the total death rate decreased as the frequencies of consuming cheese, eggs, meat and milk increased. He called the Kahn publication yet another example of negative results which are massaged and misinterpreted to support the politically correct assertions that vegetarians live longer lives.

The Snowden analysis looked at mortality data for coronary heart disease (CHD), rather than total mortality data, for the 21-year SDA study. Since he did not eliminate the intermediate frequencies of consumption data on meat, but did so with eggs, cheese and milk, this analysis represents further evidence that both Kahn and Snowden based their results on arbitrary, after-the-fact analysis and not on pre-planned analyses contingent on the design of their questionnaire. Snowden computed relative risk ratios and concluded that CHD mortality increased as meat consumption increased. However, the rates of increase were trivial at 0.04 percent and 0.01 percent respectively for males and females. Snowden, like Kahn, also found no relationship between frequency of consumption of eggs, cheese and milk and CHD mortality risk.

Citing the SDA study, other writers have claimed that nonvegetarians have higher all-cause mortality rates than vegetarians4 and that, There seems little doubt that SDA men at least experience less total heart disease than do others. . .5 The overpowering motivation to show that a diet low in animal products protects against CHD (and other diseases) is no better exemplified than in the SDA study and its subsequent analysis. While Kahn and Snowden both used the term substantial to describe the effects of meat consumption on mortalities, it is obvious that trivial is the appropriate descriptor. It is also interesting to note that throughout their analyses, they brushed aside their totally negative findings on foods which have much greater quantities of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.

The second study was published by Burr and Sweetnam in 1982.6 It was shown that annual CHD death rate among vegetarians was only 0.01 percent lower than that of nonvegetarians, yet the authors indicated that the difference was substantial.

The table below presents the annual death rates for vegetarians and nonvegetarians which Smith derived from the raw data in the seven-year Burr and Sweetnam study. As can be seen, the marked difference between vegetarian and nonvegetarian men in Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) was only .11 percent. The difference in all-cause death rate was in the opposite direction, a fact that Burr and Sweetnam failed to mention. Moreover, the IHD and all-cause death rates among females were actually slightly greater for heart disease and substantially greater for all causes in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians.

These results are absolutely not supportive of the proposition that vegetarianism protects against either heart disease or all-cause mortalities. They also indicate that vegetarianism is more dangerous for women than for men.

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by Jim Earles

VEGETARIANISM: In its simplest form, the abstinence from all flesh foodsthose foods which inherently require the taking of an animals lifein favor of plant foods. Without further qualifying terms, the term vegetarian does not specify whether or not a person might choose to eat animal products like milk and eggs, which do not inherently require the taking of an animals life.

LACTO-VEGETARIANISM: A vegetarian diet with the inclusion of milk and/or dairy products.

OVO-VEGETARIANISM: A vegetarian diet with the inclusion of eggs (usually eggs from chickens or other fowl, but presumably an ovo-vegetarian might also eat fish roe).

PESCO-VEGETARIANISM (a.k.a. pescetarianism): A vegetarian diet with the exception of consuming fish and/or seafood. This is often viewed by adherents as being a voluntary abstention from eating land animals. This diet is similar to (and often overlaps with) the popular version of the Mediterranean Diet.

POLLO-VEGETARIANISM (a.k.a. pollotarianism): A vegetarian diet with the exception of consuming chicken (and possibly other types of fowl). This is often viewed by adherents as being a voluntary abstention from red meats and from eating more highly-developed mammals such as cows, pigs, sheep, etc. NOTE: Many vegetarians do not feel that people who include seafoods or land fowl in their diets qualify as vegetarians at all. Indeed, many practicing pescetarians and pollotarians feel that their diet is a similar but entirely distinct dietary philosophy from vegetarianism. Some people prefer to use terms such as semi-vegetarianism or flexitarianism to refer to the primary (but not exclusive) practice of vegetarianism. ALSO NOTE: The above variants on vegetarianism may be combined in any way to describe an individuals food choices. (e.g. lacto-ovo-vegetarianism, pollo-ovo-vegetarianism, etc.)

VEGANISM: The more extreme end of the scale of vegetarianism. A vegan (both vee-gan and vay-gan are accepted pronunciations) abstains from all animal foods, including any meats, fish, eggs or dairy. Some vegans, but not all of them, also abstain from honey and other bee products, as well as clothing and materials made from animal products (e.g. silk, leather, fur, etc.). Many vegans view their dietary choices as being just a part of veganism, which is more fully viewed as a way of life and a socio-political stance.

FREEGANISM: A subset of veganism which utilizes the same basic food choices but often lives out the socio-political aspects of veganism in an even more direct and radical way. Freegans seek to minimize or eliminate participation in the corporate food system by practices such as foraging for wild plant foods, community gardening, bartering for food instead of using money and dumpster diving (taking food that is still edible but past its expiration date out of supermarket, restaurant and bakery dumpsters). Dumpster diving especially is seen as a radical form of environmental stewardshipsaving otherwise good food from going to a landfill. Getting food for free in this way also gives rise to the namefree plus vegan equals freegan.

MEAGANISM: A further subset of freeganism! A meagan would dispense with the strict adherence to a vegan diet when their dumpster diving provides them with usable meat or other animal foods. (Meat plus vegan equals meagan.) Some meagans argue that all foods produced by the dominant corporate model are ethically-tainted, meatless or otherwise. Following this line, there is no moral high ground to be had when eating salvaged food. Other meagans believe that it is disrespectful to the spirit of an animal to allow its flesh or other products to be wasted, so it is better to eat these items and honor the loss of their lives by keeping them in the food chain whenever possible.

FRUITARIANISM: A subset of veganism wherein neither animals nor plants are allowed to be harmed or killed to feed human beings. This means that only the fruits of plants and trees are morally acceptable as human food, as these may be harvested without doing any harm to the plant. However, there is no strong consensus among fruitarians as to what exactly should constitute fruit. Botanically speaking, some common vegetables are actually classified as fruits (such as bell peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers), as are nuts and grains. Some fruitarians abide by the wider, botanical meaning of fruit, while others only eat the sweet, fleshy, more commonly-known fruits. Many fruitarians also include seeds in their diet, following the line of thought that anything that naturally falls from a plant (or would do so) is valid food.

LIQUIDARIANISM / JUICEARIANISM: A rarely-espoused dietary philosophy wherein adherents only consume liquids and fruit and vegetable juices. More often than not, such a program would only be undertaken for a limited period of time only for the purposes of a cleansing fast. However, a relatively small number of people have attempted to maintain such a regime over an indefinite period of time.

RAW FOODISM: While not necessarily falling under any of the above headings, many raw foodists base their food choices on some form of vegetarianism or veganism. A raw foodist consumes most or all of their foods in uncooked and unprocessed forms. (This may or may not include practices such as the soaking of nuts, seeds and grains.) While many raw foodists minimize or exclude animal products, some do consume raw meats, eggs and dairy products.

MACROBIOTICS: Again not necessarily falling under any vegetarian category, but many macrobiotic adherents have strong overlap with vegetarianism and veganism. The macrobiotic diet emphasizes eating foods that are grown locally and (to the extent possible) when they are actually in season, placing an emphasis on eating grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fermented soy products and sometimes fish. Processed foods and animal products are typically excluded, as are vegetables of the nightshade family.

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Twenty-Two Reasons Not to Go Vegetarian

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Vegetarianism: Pros and Cons – GOQii

The philosophy around going meatless or adopting a vegetarian lifestyle has become increasingly popular. People are being more aware of foods that are nutrient dense (and those less so) which helps them to stay healthy and fit. So is veering towards a plant-based approach the best way to go? A growing number of people seem to think so. A Vegetarian resource group conducted a poll and found that there was rise in people adopting vegetarianism/veganism compared to previous years data in USA, similar data was shown for Europe, Israel and India as well.

Before we fall in to the discussion of Should people become Vegetarian? however, its important to understand what vegetarianism actually means as well as the benefits and potential risks associated with it.

Vegetarian broadly refers to those who restricts consumption of animal products like meat, fish, poultry etc., and largely rely on plant based foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, pulses etc., for living. Within this group, there are various levels of vegetarians. These are classified from most restrictive to those who are less so.

A vegetarian diet is naturally low in fats and high in fiber, but being vegetarian has its own risks. So no matter at what level you happen to fall, and no matter what reason you have chosen to commit to it , there are both pros and cons of being vegetarian. Here are few of them:

Pros of Vegetarianism:

Cons of Vegetarianism:

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Vegetarianism: Pros and Cons - GOQii

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

Proven Advantages And Disadvantages Of Vegetarianism

The vegetarian diet is not a new concept but it has been made into one. Since the time immemorial, the cry that the human beings must return to the vegan lifestyle has been echoing in all the places around the world. But some hypocrites have remodeled the claims into something that is very new. It has been said that the vegetarian diet is the most preferred diet all over the world. The vegetarian form of the diet is the most preferred and the most trusted form of the diet in the world. But the parents have expressed duel of the nutritional intake in the vegetarian foods. But the dietary experts have consoled the parents that the well planned and the careful selection of the foods will provide the same amount of the nutrients that the meat based foods provide. But extra care must be provided to the children if the children do not consume enough of meat and dairy products. The nutritional needs of the children differs as they advance in years.

There are the number of reasons for a person to become a vegetarian. Some people adapt the vegetarian lifestyle for health reasons while others adopt it because they have been born or brought up in a vegan family. Even cultural issues also plays a role in making a man to adopt the vegetarian lifestyle. The concern and love for the animals also has a lot to do for the community or a family to become vegans.

Most people are of the opinion that the vegetarian diets are devoid of the proteins and the fats that the animal meat possess. But it is not true. The vegetarian diet also possess these kinds of the nutrients and the people need to carefully select the foods that are rich in them. The meat contains unsaturated fats and cholesterol and these harm the body.

The vegetarianism has been said to be the act of abstaining from all kinds of meat that is obtained from animal slaughter and living exquisitely only on the foods prepared by the dairy products, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, fruits and grains. Some vegetarians include the eggs as a part of their daily diet while others do not. Various pros and cons of Vegetarianism are listed here.,

There are many benefits as opposed to the disadvantages of being a vegetarian. But the scientists have forestalled the people by telling them that they have also found that the intake of the vegetarian foods also increases the risks of developing calories. But not that alone, an estimated amount of the diseases like the cancers and other chronic diseases all owe their allegiance to the bad diets. So this has to be addressed and proper eating habits must be enforced. The advantages of vegetarianism are,

Though the advantages of being a vegan is very obvious, there are also some or the other complications that needs to be addressed in order to obtain a clear picture of the mode of the foods that may be eaten. Some people shriek from the idea of the meat free diet. So there are some demerits/cons of vegetarianism also listed here.

The term vegetarianism is a broad one and it does not confine one to a single aspect. The vegetarian people and the others need to understand the various categories that exists between the vegans. The types of the vegetarian foods depend on the selection of the foods and the types get classified according to it. As of now, it has said that there are four types of the vegetarian people. They are as follows :

The people who follow this type of the vegetarianism will live only on the food items like the dairy products, eggs and the usual plants for food. This is the most common form of the vegetarianism. They do not consume any animal products nor use them.

The people who follow this type of the vegan style will only include eggs and the plant based foods into their daily food regime. These people too do not consume meat products. They do not eat dairy products too.

These people eat the plant based foods as the above said groups of the people and they also consume the dairy products. These people are said to be the perfect types of the vegetarians.

These kind of the people eat only plant based foods and they neither include meat and dairy foods.

There is another category of the people who do not consume the red meat but eat the fish along with the plant based foods.

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Proven Advantages And Disadvantages Of Vegetarianism

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Vegetarianism – Wikipedia

Practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat

Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat (red meat, poultry, seafood, and the flesh of any other animal), and may also include abstention from by-products of animals processed for food.[1][2]

Vegetarianism may be adopted for various reasons. Many people object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life. Such ethical motivations have been codified under various religious beliefs, as well as animal rights advocacy. Other motivations for vegetarianism are health-related, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic, economic, or personal preference. There are variations of the diet as well: an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products, an ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy products, and a lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but not eggs. A strict vegetarian diet referred to as vegan excludes all animal products, including eggs and dairy. Some vegans even eschew honey, believing that exploiting the labor of bees and harvesting their energy source is immoral, even feeling that beekeeping operations can harm and even kill bees.[3]Avoidance of animal products may require dietary supplements to prevent deficiencies such as vitamin B12 deficiency, which leads to pernicious anemia.[4][5]

Packaged and processed foods, such as cakes, cookies, candies, chocolate, yogurt, and marshmallows, often contain unfamiliar animal ingredients, and so may be a special concern for vegetarians due to the likelihood of such additives.[2][6] Feelings among vegetarians may vary concerning these ingredients. Some vegetarians scrutinize product labels for animal-derived ingredients[6] while others do not object to consuming cheese made with animal-derived rennet.[2] Some vegetarians are unaware of animal-derived rennet being used in the production of cheese.[2][7][8]

Semi-vegetarian diets consist largely of vegetarian foods but may include fish or poultry, or sometimes other meats, on an infrequent basis. Those with diets containing fish or poultry may define meat only as mammalian flesh and may identify with vegetarianism.[9][10] A pescetarian diet has been described as "fish but no other meat".[11] The common-use association between such diets and vegetarianism has led vegetarian groups such as the Vegetarian Society to state that diets containing these ingredients are not vegetarian, because fish and birds are also animals.[12]

The first written use of the term "vegetarian" originated in the early 19th century, when authors referred to a vegetable regimen diet.[13] Modern dictionaries explain its origin as a compound of vegetable (adjective) and the suffix -arian (in the sense of agrarian).[14] The term was popularized with the foundation of the Vegetarian Society in Manchester in 1847,[15] although it may have appeared in print before 1847.[15][16][17] The earliest occurrences of the term seem to be related to Alcott Housea school on the north side of Ham Common, Londonwhich was opened in July 1838 by James Pierrepont Greaves.[16][17][18] From 1841, it was known as A Concordium, or Industry Harmony College, from which time the institution began to publish its own pamphlet entitled The Healthian, which provides some of the earliest appearances of the term "vegetarian".[16]

India is a strange country. People do not killany living creatures, do not keep pigs and fowl,and do not sell live cattle.

Faxian, 4th/5th century CEChinese pilgrim to India[19]

The earliest record of vegetarianism comes from the 7th century BCE,[20] inculcating tolerance towards all living beings.[21][22] Parshwanatha and Mahavira, the 23rd & 24th tirthankaras in Jainism respectively revived and advocated ahimsa and Jain vegetarianism in 8th to 6th century BC; the most comprehensive and strictest form of vegetarianism.[23][24][25] Vegetarianism was also practiced in ancient Greece and the earliest reliable evidence for vegetarian theory and practice in Greece dates from the 6th century BC. The Orphics, a religious movement spreading in Greece at that time, also practiced and promoted vegetarianism.[26] Greek teacher Pythagoras, who promoted the altruistic doctrine of metempsychosis, may have practiced vegetarianism,[27] but is also recorded as eating meat.[28] A fictionalized portrayal of Pythagoras appears in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which he advocates a form of strict vegetarianism.[29] It was through this portrayal that Pythagoras was best known to English-speakers throughout the early modern period and, prior to the coinage of the word "vegetarianism", vegetarians were referred to in English as "Pythagoreans".[29]

Vegetarianism was also practiced about six centuries later in another instance (30BCE50CE) in the northern Thracian region by the Moesi tribe (who inhabited present-day Serbia and Bulgaria), feeding themselves on honey, milk, and cheese.[30]

In Indian culture, vegetarianism has been closely connected with the attitude of nonviolence towards animals (called ahimsa in India) for millennia and was promoted by religious groups and philosophers.[31] The ancient Indian work of Tirukkural explicitly and unambiguously emphasizes shunning meat and non-killing.[32] Chapter 26 of the Tirukkural, particularly couplets 251260, deals exclusively on vegetarianism or veganism.[32] Among the Hellenes, Egyptians, and others, vegetarianism had medical or ritual purification purposes.

Following the Christianization of the Roman Empire in late antiquity, vegetarianism practically disappeared from Europe, as it did elsewhere, except in India.[34] Several orders of monks in medieval Europe restricted or banned the consumption of meat for ascetic reasons, but none of them eschewed fish.[35] Moreover, the medieval definition of "fish" included such animals as seals, porpoises, dolphins, barnacle geese, puffins, and beavers.[36] Vegetarianism re-emerged during the Renaissance,[37] becoming more widespread in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1847, the first Vegetarian Society was founded in the United Kingdom;[38] Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries followed. In 1886, the vegetarian colony Nueva Germania was founded in Paraguay, though its vegetarian aspect would prove short-lived.[39]:345358 The International Vegetarian Union, an association of the national societies, was founded in 1908. In the Western world, the popularity of vegetarianism grew during the 20th century as a result of nutritional, ethical, andmore recentlyenvironmental and economic concerns.

There are a number of vegetarian diets that exclude or include various foods:

Within the "ovo-" groups, there are many who refuse to consume fertilized eggs (with balut being an extreme example); however, such distinction is typically not specifically addressed.

Some vegetarians also avoid products that may use animal ingredients not included in their labels or which use animal products in their manufacturing. For example, sugars that are whitened with bone char, cheeses that use animal rennet (enzymes from animal stomach lining), gelatin (derived from the collagen inside animals' skin, bones, and connective tissue), some cane sugar (but not beet sugar) and beverages (such as apple juice and alcohol) clarified with gelatin or crushed shellfish and sturgeon, while other vegetarians are unaware of, or do not mind, such ingredients.[2][6][7] In the 21st century, 90% of rennet and chymosin used in cheesemaking are derived from industrial fermentation processes, which satisfy both kosher and halal requirements.[42]

Individuals sometimes label themselves "vegetarian" while practicing a semi-vegetarian diet,[10][43][44] as some dictionary definitions describe vegetarianism as sometimes including the consumption of fish,[9] or only include mammalian flesh as part of their definition of meat,[9][45] while other definitions exclude fish and all animal flesh.[12] In other cases, individuals may describe themselves as "flexitarian".[43][46]These diets may be followed by those who reduce animal flesh consumed as a way of transitioning to a complete vegetarian diet or for health, ethical, environmental, or other reasons. Semi-vegetarian diets include:

Semi-vegetarianism is contested by vegetarian groups, such as the Vegetarian Society, which states that vegetarianism excludes all animal flesh.[12]

On average, vegetarians consume a lower proportion of calories from fat (particularly saturated fatty acids), fewer overall calories, more fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, than do non-vegetarians. Vegetarians generally have a lower body mass index. These characteristics and other lifestyle factors associated with a vegetarian diet may contribute to the positive health outcomes that have been identified among vegetarians.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 A report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services[47]

Studies on the health effects of vegetarian diets observe mixed effects on mortality. One review found a decreased overall risk of all cause mortality, cancer (except breast) and cardiovascular disease;[48] however, a meta-analysis found lower risk for ischemic heart disease and cancer but no effect on overall mortality or cerebrovascular disease.[49] Possible limitations include varying definitions used of vegetarianism, and the observation of increased risk of lung cancer mortality in those on a vegetarian diet for less than five years.[49] An analysis pooling two large studies found vegetarians in the UK have similar all cause mortality as meat eaters.[50]

The American Dietetic Association has stated that at all stages of life, a properly planned vegetarian diet can be "healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases."[51] Vegetarian diets offer lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol and animal protein, and higher levels of carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals.[52][53]

Vegetarian diets have been studied to see whether they are of benefit in treating arthritis, but no good supporting evidence has been found.[54]

As of 2011[update] the relationship between vegetarian diet and bone health was unclear. According to some studies, a vegetarian lifestyle can be associated with vitamin B 12 deficiency and low bone mineral density.[55] However, a study of vegetarian and non-vegetarian adults in Taiwan found no significant difference in bone mineral density between the two groups.[56]

Vegetarian diets might reduce the risk of developing diabetes.[57] There is some evidence that a vegetarian diet may help people with type 2 diabetes achieve glycemic control.[58]

The American Dietetic Association discussed that vegetarian diets may be more common among adolescents with eating disorders, indicating that vegetarian diets do not cause eating disorders, but rather "vegetarian diets may be selected to camouflage an existing eating disorder".[59]

Vegetarian diets may lower the risk of heart disease, as well as reduce the need for medications prescribed for chronic illnesses.[60]

There have been many comparative and statistical studies of the relationship between diet and longevity, including vegetarianism and longevity.

A 1999 metastudy combined data from five studies from western countries.[61] The metastudy reported mortality ratios, where lower numbers indicated fewer deaths, for fish eaters to be 0.82, vegetarians to be 0.84, occasional meat eaters (eat meat less than once per week) to be 0.84. Regular meat eaters had the base mortality rate of 1.0, while the number for vegans was very uncertain (anywhere between 0.7 and 1.44) due to too few data points. The study reported the numbers of deaths in each category, and expected error ranges for each ratio, and adjustments made to the data. However, the "lower mortality was due largely to the relatively low prevalence of smoking in these [vegetarian] cohorts". Out of the major causes of death studied, only one difference in mortality rate was attributed to the difference in diet, as the conclusion states: "...vegetarians had a 24% lower mortality from ischaemic heart disease than non-vegetarians, but no associations of a vegetarian diet with other major causes of death were established".[61]

In Mortality in British vegetarians,[62] a similar conclusion is drawn:

British vegetarians have low mortality compared with the general population. Their death rates are similar to those of comparable non-vegetarians, suggesting that much of this benefit may be attributed to non-dietary lifestyle factors such as a low prevalence of smoking and a generally high socio-economic status, or to aspects of the diet other than the avoidance of meat and fish."[63]

The Adventist Health Studies is ongoing research that documents the life expectancy in Seventh-day Adventists. This is the only study among others with similar methodology which had favourable indication for vegetarianism. The researchers found that a combination of different lifestyle choices could influence life expectancy by as much as 10 years. Among the lifestyle choices investigated, a vegetarian diet was estimated to confer an extra 11/2 to 2 years of life. The researchers concluded that "the life expectancies of California Adventist men and women are higher than those of any other well-described natural population" at 78.5 years for men and 82.3 years for women. The life expectancy of California Adventists surviving to age 30 was 83.3 years for men and 85.7 years for women.[64]

The Adventist health study is again incorporated into a metastudy titled "Does low meat consumption increase life expectancy in humans?" published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which concluded that low meat eating (less than once per week) and other lifestyle choices significantly increase life expectancy, relative to a group with high meat intake. The study concluded that "The findings from one cohort of healthy adults raises the possibility that long-term ( 2 decades) adherence to a vegetarian diet can further produce a significant 3.6-y increase in life expectancy." However, the study also concluded that "Some of the variation in the survival advantage in vegetarians may have been due to marked differences between studies in adjustment for confounders, the definition of vegetarian, measurement error, age distribution, the healthy volunteer effect, and intake of specific plant foods by the vegetarians." It further states that "This raises the possibility that a low-meat, high plant-food dietary pattern may be the true causal protective factor rather than simply elimination of meat from the diet." In a recent review of studies relating low-meat diet patterns to all-cause mortality, Singh noted that "5 out of 5 studies indicated that adults who followed a low meat, high plant-food diet pattern experienced significant or marginally significant decreases in mortality risk relative to other patterns of intake."[65]

Statistical studies, such as comparing life expectancy with regional areas and local diets in Europe also have found life expectancy considerably greater in southern France, where a low meat, high plant Mediterranean diet is common, than northern France, where a diet with high meat content is more common.[66]

A study by the Institute of Preventive and Clinical Medicine, and Institute of Physiological Chemistry looked at a group of 19 vegetarians (lacto-ovo) and used as a comparison a group of 19 omnivorous subjects recruited from the same region. The study found that this group of vegetarians (lacto-ovo) have a significantly higher amount of plasma carboxymethyllysine and advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) compared to this group of non-vegetarians.[67] Carboxymethyllysine is a glycation product which represents "a general marker of oxidative stress and long-term damage of proteins in aging, atherosclerosis and diabetes" and "[a]dvanced glycation end products (AGEs) may play an important adverse role in process of atherosclerosis, diabetes, aging and chronic renal failure".[67]

A strict vegetarian diet avoiding consumption of all animal products risks vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to hyperhomocysteinemia, a risk factor for several health disorders, including anemia, neurological deficits, gastrointestinal problems, platelet disorders, and increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.[4][5] This risk may be offset by ensuring sufficient intake of vitamin B12 by consuming fortified foods with vitamin B12 added during manufacturing, or by using a dietary supplement product.[4][5][48]

Western vegetarian diets are typically high in carotenoids, but relatively low in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.[68] Vegans can have particularly low intake of vitamin B and calcium if they do not eat enough items such as collard greens, leafy greens, tempeh and tofu (soy).[69] High levels of dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, and magnesium, and low consumption of saturated fat are all considered to be beneficial aspects of a vegetarian diet.[70] A well planned vegetarian diet will provide all nutrients in a meat-eater's diet to the same level for all stages of life.[71]

Protein intake in vegetarian diets is lower than in meat diets but can meet the daily requirements for most people.[72] Studies at Harvard University as well as other studies conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and various European countries,confirmed vegetarian diets provide sufficient protein intake as long as a variety of plant sources are available and consumed.[73]

Vegetarian diets typically contain similar levels of iron to non-vegetarian diets, but this has lower bioavailability than iron from meat sources, and its absorption can sometimes be inhibited by other dietary constituents.[74] According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, consuming food that contains vitamin C, such as citrus fruit or juices, tomatoes, or broccoli, is a good way to increase the amount of iron absorbed at a meal.[75] Vegetarian foods rich in iron include black beans, cashews, hempseed, kidney beans, broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, raisins, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, black-eyed peas, soybeans, many breakfast cereals, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, tomato juice, tempeh, molasses, thyme, and whole-wheat bread.[76] The related vegan diets can often be higher in iron than vegetarian diets, because dairy products are low in iron.[70] Iron stores often tend to be lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians, and a few small studies report very high rates of iron deficiency (up to 40%,[77] and 58%[78] of the respective vegetarian or vegan groups). However, the American Dietetic Association states that iron deficiency is no more common in vegetarians than non-vegetarians (adult males are rarely iron deficient); iron deficiency anaemia is rare no matter the diet.[79]

Vitamin B12 is not generally present in plants but is naturally found in foods of animal origin.[4][80] Lacto-ovo vegetarians can obtain B12 from dairy products and eggs, and vegans can obtain it from manufactured fortified foods (including plant-based products and breakfast cereals) and dietary supplements.[4][81][82]

The recommended daily dietary intake of B12 in the United States and Canada is 0.4 mcg (ages 06 months), rising to 1.8 mcg (913 years), 2.4 mcg (14+ years), and 2.8 mcg (lactating female).[80] While the body's daily requirement for vitamin B12 is in microgram amounts, deficiency of the vitamin through strict practice of a vegetarian diet without supplementation can increase the risk of several chronic diseases.[4][5][80]

Plant-based, or vegetarian, sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include soy, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, canola oil, kiwifruit, hempseed, algae, chia seed, flaxseed, echium seed and leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage and purslane. Purslane contains more Omega 3 than any other known leafy green. Olives (and olive oil) are another important plant source of unsaturated fatty acids. Plant foods can provide alpha-linolenic acid which the human body uses to synthesize the long-chain n-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA can be obtained directly in high amounts from oily fish or fish oils. Vegetarians, and particularly vegans, have lower levels of EPA and DHA than meat-eaters. While the health effects of low levels of EPA and DHA are unknown, it is unlikely that supplementation with alpha-linolenic acid will significantly increase levels.[83][clarification needed] Recently, some companies have begun to market vegetarian DHA supplements containing seaweed extracts. Whole seaweeds are not suitable for supplementation because their high iodine content limits the amount that may be safely consumed. However, certain algae such as spirulina are good sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA), stearidonic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid (AA).[84][85]

Calcium intake in vegetarians and vegans can be similar to non-vegetarians, as long as the diet is properly planned.[86] Lacto-ovo vegetarians that include dairy products can still obtain calcium from dairy sources like milk, yogurt, and cheese.[87]

Non-dairy milks that are fortified with calcium, such as soymilk and almond milk can also contribute a significant amount of calcium in the diet.[88] The calcium found in broccoli, bok choy, and kale have also been found to have calcium that is well absorbed in the body.[86][87][89] Though the calcium content per serving is lower in these vegetables than a glass of milk, the absorption of the calcium into the body is higher.[87][89] Other foods that contain calcium include calcium-set tofu, blackstrap molasses, turnip greens, mustard greens, soybeans, tempeh, almonds, okra, dried figs, and tahini.[86][88] Though calcium can be found in Spinach, swiss chard, beans and beet greens, they are generally not considered to be a good source since the calcium binds to oxalic acid and is poorly absorbed into the body.[87] Phytic acid found in nuts, seeds, and beans may also impact calcium absorption rates.[87] See the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements for calcium needs for various ages,[87] the Vegetarian Resource Group[88] and the Vegetarian Nutrition Calcium Fact Sheet from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics[86] for more specifics on how to obtain adequate calcium intake on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Vitamin D needs can be met via the human body's own generation upon sufficient and sensible exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light in sunlight.[90][91] Products including milk, soy milk and cereal grains may be fortified to provide a source of Vitamin D.[92] For those who do not get adequate sun exposure or food sources, Vitamin D supplementation may be necessary.

Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol is found in fungus (except alfalfa which is a plantae) and created from viosterol, which in turn is created when ultraviolet light activates ergosterol (which is found in fungi and named as a sterol from ergot). Any UV-irradiated fungus including yeast form vitamin D2.[95] Human bioavailability of vitamin D2 from vitamin D2-enhanced button mushrooms via UV-B irradiation is effective in improving vitamin D status and not different from a vitamin D2 supplement according to study.[96] For example, Vitamin D2 from UV-irradiated yeast baked into bread is bioavailable.[97]By visual assessment or using a chromometer, no significant discoloration of irradiated mushrooms, as measured by the degree of "whiteness", was observed[98] making it hard to discover if they have been treated without labeling. Claims have been made that a normal serving (approx. 3 oz or 1/2 cup, or 60 grams) of mushrooms treated with ultraviolet light increase their vitamin D content to levels up to 80 micrograms,[99] or 2700 IU if exposed to just 5 minutes of UV light after being harvested.[100]

Various ethical reasons have been suggested for choosing vegetarianism, usually predicated on the interests of non-human animals. In many societies, controversy and debate have arisen over the ethics of eating animals. Some people, while not vegetarians, refuse to eat the flesh of certain animals due to cultural taboo, such as cats, dogs, horses or rabbits. Others support meat eating for scientific, nutritional and cultural reasons, including religious ones. Some meat eaters abstain from the meat of animals reared in particular ways, such as factory farms, or avoid certain meats, such as veal or foie gras. Some people follow vegetarian or vegan diets not because of moral concerns involving the raising or consumption of animals in general, but because of concerns about the specific treatment and practices involved in the processing of animals for food. Others still avoid meat because meat production is claimed to place a greater burden on the environment than production of an equivalent amount of plant protein. Ethical objections based on consideration for animals are generally divided into opposition to the act of killing in general, and opposition to certain agricultural practices surrounding the production of meat.

Ethical vegetarians believe that killing an animal, like killing a human, especially one who has equal or lesser cognitive abilities than the animals in question, can only be justified in extreme circumstances and that consuming a living creature for its enjoyable taste, convenience, or nutrition value is not a sufficient cause.[101] Another common view is that humans are morally conscious of their behavior in a way other animals are not, and therefore subject to higher standards.[102] One author proposes that denying the right to life and humane treatment to animals with equal or greater cognitive abilities than mentally disabled humans is an arbitrary and discriminatory practice based on habit instead of logic.[103] Opponents of ethical vegetarianism argue that animals are not moral equals to humans and so consider the comparison of eating livestock with killing people to be fallacious. This view does not excuse cruelty, but maintains that animals do not possess the rights a human has.[104]

One of the main differences between a vegan and a typical vegetarian diet is the avoidance of both eggs and dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. Ethical vegans do not consume dairy or eggs because they state that their production causes the animal suffering or a premature death.[105]

To produce milk from dairy cattle, farmers separate calves from their mothers soon after birth or fed milk replacer to retain cow milk for human consumption.[106] To prolong lactation, dairy cows are almost permanently kept pregnant through artificial insemination.[106] After about five years, once the cow's milk production has dropped, it is considered "spent" and processed for beef and hide. A dairy cow's natural life expectancy is about twenty years.[105]

In battery cage and free-range egg production, unwanted male chicks are culled or discarded at birth during the process of securing a further generation of egg-laying hens.[107]

Ethical vegetarianism has become popular in developed countries particularly because of the spread of factory farming, faster communications, and environmental consciousness. Some believe that the current mass demand for meat cannot be satisfied without a mass-production system that disregards the welfare of animals, while others believe that practices like well-managed free-ranging and consumption of game, particularly from species whose natural predators have been significantly eliminated, could substantially alleviate the demand for mass-produced meat.[108]

Jainism teaches vegetarianism as moral conduct as do some major[109] sects of Hinduism. Buddhism in general does not prohibit meat eating, while Mahayana Buddhism encourages vegetarianism as beneficial for developing compassion.[110] Other denominations that advocate a vegetarian diet include the Seventh-day Adventists, the Rastafari movement, the Ananda Marga movement and the Hare Krishnas. Sikhism[111][112][113] does not equate spirituality with diet and does not specify a vegetarian or meat diet.[114]

While there are no dietary restrictions in the Bah' faith, `Abdu'l-Bah, the son of the religion's founder, noted that a vegetarian diet consisting of fruits and grains was desirable, except for people with a weak constitution or those that are sick.[115] He stated that there are no requirements that Bah's become vegetarian, but that a future society should gradually become vegetarian.[115][116][117] `Abdu'l-Bah also stated that killing animals was contrary to compassion.[115] While Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Bah' Faith in the first half of the 20th century, stated that a purely vegetarian diet would be preferable since it avoided killing animals,[118] both he and the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Bah's have stated that these teachings do not constitute a Bah' practice and that Bah's can choose to eat whatever they wish but should be respectful of others' beliefs.[115]

Theravadins in general eat meat.[119] If Buddhist monks "see, hear or know" a living animal was killed specifically for them to eat, they must refuse it or else incur an offense.[120] However, this does not include eating meat which was given as alms or commercially purchased. In the Theravada canon, Buddha did not make any comment discouraging them from eating meat (except specific types, such as human, elephant meat, horse, dog, snake, lion, tiger, leopard, bear, and hyena flesh[121]) but he specifically refused to institute vegetarianism in his monastic code when a suggestion had been made.[122][123]

In several Sanskrit texts of Mahayana Buddhism, Buddha instructs his followers to avoid meat.[124][125][126][127] However, each branch of Mahayana Buddhism selects which sutra to follow, and some branches, including the majority of Tibetan and Japanese Buddhists, do eat meat, while many Chinese Buddhist branches do not.

Early Christians disagreed as to whether they should eat meat, and later Christian historians have disagreed over whether Jesus was a vegetarian.[128][129][130] Various groups within Christianity have practiced specific dietary restrictions for various reasons.[131] The Council of Jerusalem in around 50 AD, recommended Christians keep following some of the Jewish food laws concerning meat. The early sect known as the Ebionites are considered to have practiced vegetarianism. Surviving fragments from their Gospel indicate their belief that as Christ is the Passover sacrifice and eating the Passover lamb is no longer required a vegetarian diet may (or should) be observed. However, orthodox Christianity does not accept their teaching as authentic. Indeed, their specific injunction to strict vegetarianism was cited as one of the Ebionites' "errors".[132][133]

At a much later time, the Bible Christian Church founded by Reverend William Cowherd in 1809 followed a vegetarian diet.[134] Cowherd was one of the philosophical forerunners of the Vegetarian Society.[135] Cowherd encouraged members to abstain from eating of meat as a form of temperance.[136]

Seventh-day Adventists are encouraged to engage in healthy eating practices, and ova-lacto-vegetarian diets are recommended by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Nutrition Council (GCNC). They have also sponsored and participated in many scientific studies exploring the impact of dietary decisions upon health outcomes.[137] The GCNC has in addition adapted the USDA's food pyramid for a vegetarian dietary approach.[137][138] However, the only kinds of meat specifically frowned upon by the SDA health message are unclean meats, or those forbidden in scripture.[139]

Additionally, some monastic orders follow a vegetarian diet, and members of the Orthodox Church follow a vegan diet during fasts.[140] There is also a strong association between the Quakers and vegetarianism dating back at least to the 18th century. The association grew in prominence during the 19th century, coupled with growing Quaker concerns in connection with alcohol consumption, anti-vivisection and social purity. The association between the Quaker tradition and vegetarianism, however, becomes most significant with the founding of the Friends' Vegetarian Society in 1902 "to spread a kindlier way of living amongst the Society of Friends."[141]

According to Canon Law, Roman Catholics ages 14 and older are required to abstain from meat (defined as all mammal and fowl flesh and organs, excluding water animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent including Good Friday. Canon Law also obliges Catholics to abstain from meat on the Fridays of the year outside of Lent (excluding certain holy days) unless, with the permission of the local conference of bishops, another penitential act is substituted. The restrictions on eating meat on these days is solely as an act of penance and not because of a religious objection to eating meat.[142]

Since the formation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the 1860s when the church began, wholeness and health have been an emphasis of the Adventist church, and has been known as the "health message" belief of the church.[143] Adventists are well known for presenting a health message that recommends vegetarianism and expects adherence to the kosher laws in Leviticus 11. Obedience to these laws means abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other animals proscribed as "unclean". The church discourages its members from consuming alcoholic beverages, tobacco or illegal drugs (compare Christianity and alcohol). In addition, some Adventists avoid coffee, tea, cola, and other beverages containing caffeine.

The pioneers of the Adventist Church had much to do with the common acceptance of breakfast cereals into the Western diet, and the "modern commercial concept of cereal food" originated among Adventists.[144] John Harvey Kellogg was one of the early founders of Adventist health work. His development of breakfast cereals as a health food led to the founding of Kellogg's by his brother William. In both Australia and New Zealand, the church-owned Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company is a leading manufacturer of health and vegetarian-related products, most prominently Weet-Bix.

Research funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health has shown that the average Adventist in California lives 4 to 10 years longer than the average Californian. The research, as cited by the cover story of the November 2005 issue of National Geographic, asserts that Adventists live longer because they do not smoke or drink alcohol, have a day of rest every week, and maintain a healthy, low-fat vegetarian diet that is rich in nuts and beans.[145][146] The cohesiveness of Adventists' social networks has also been put forward as an explanation for their extended lifespan.[147]Since Dan Buettner's 2005 National Geographic story about Adventist longevity, his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest, named Loma Linda, California a "blue zone" because of the large concentration of Seventh-day Adventists. He cites the Adventist emphasis on health, diet, and Sabbath-keeping as primary factors for Adventist longevity.[148][149]

An estimated 35% of Adventists practice vegetarianism or veganism, according to a 2002 worldwide survey of local church leaders.[150][151]

Illustrative of vegetarian Hindu meals.

Though there is no strict rule on what to consume and what not to, paths of Hinduism hold vegetarianism as an ideal. Some reasons are: the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) applied to animals;[152] the intention to offer only "pure" (vegetarian) food to a deity and then to receive it back as prasad; and the conviction that a sattvic diet is beneficial for a healthy body and mind and that non-vegetarian food is not recommended for a better mind and for spiritual development.

However, the food habits of Hindus vary according to their community, location, custom and varying traditions. Historically and currently, those Hindus who eat meat prescribe Jhatka meat,[153] Hindus believe that the cow is a holy animal whose processing for meat is forbidden.[154]

Some followers of Islam, or Muslims, chose to be vegetarian for health, ethical, or personal reasons. However, the choice to become vegetarian for non-medical reasons can sometimes be controversial due to conflicting fatwas and differing interpretations of the Quran. Though some more traditional Muslims may keep quiet about their vegetarian diet, the number of vegetarian Muslims is increasing.[155][156]

Vegetarianism has been practiced by some influential Muslims including the Iraqi theologian, female mystic and poet Rabia of Basra, who died in the year 801, and the Sri Lankan Sufi master Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who established The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship of North America in Philadelphia. The former Indian president Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam was also famously a vegetarian.[157]

In January 1996, The International Vegetarian Union announced the formation of the Muslim Vegetarian/Vegan Society.[158]

Many non-vegetarian Muslims will select vegetarian (or seafood) options when dining in non-halal restaurants. However, this is a matter of not having the right kind of meat rather than preferring not to eat meat on the whole.[156]

Followers of Jainism believe that all living organisms whether they are micro-organism are living and have a soul, and have one or more senses out of five senses and they go to great lengths to minimise any harm to any living organism. Most Jains are lacto-vegetarians but more devout Jains do not eat root vegetables because they believe that root vegetables contain a lot more micro-organisms as compared to other vegetables, and that, by eating them, violence of these micro-organisms is inevitable. So they focus on eating beans and fruits, whose cultivation do not involve killing of a lot of micro-organisms. No products obtained from dead animals are allowed, because when a living beings dies, a lot of micro-organisms (called as decomposers) will reproduce in the body which decomposes the body, and in eating the dead bodies, violence of decomposers is inevitable. Jain monks usually do a lot of fasting, and when they knew through spiritual powers that their life is very little, they start fasting until death.[159][160] Some particularly dedicated individuals are fruitarians.[161] Honey is forbidden, because honey is the regurgitation of nectar by bees [162] and may also contain eggs, excreta and dead bees. Some Jains do not consume plant parts that grow underground such as roots and bulbs, because the plants themselves and tiny animals may be killed when the plants are pulled up.[163]

While classical Jewish law neither requires nor prohibits the consumption of meat, Jewish vegetarians often cite Jewish principles regarding animal welfare, environmental ethics, moral character, and health as reasons for adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.[164][165]

Rabbis may advocate vegetarianism or veganism primarily because of concerns about animal welfare, especially in light of the traditional prohibition on causing unnecessary "pain to living creatures" (tza'ar ba'alei hayyim).[166]

Jewish vegetarian groups and activists believe that the halakhic permission to eat meat is a temporary leniency for those who are not ready yet to accept the vegetarian diet.[167]

Jewish vegetarianism and veganism have become especially popular among Israeli Jews. In 2016, Israel was described as "the most vegan country on Earth", as five percent of its population eschewed all animal products.[168] Interest in veganism has grown among both non-Orthodox and Orthodox Jews in Israel.[169]

Within the Afro-Caribbean community, a minority are Rastafari and follow the dietary regulations with varying degrees of strictness. The most orthodox eat only "Ital" or natural foods, in which the matching of herbs or spices with vegetables is the result of long tradition originating from the African ancestry and cultural heritage of Rastafari.[170] "Ital", which is derived from the word vital, means essential to human existence. Ital cooking in its strictest form prohibits the use of salt, meat (especially pork), preservatives, colorings, flavorings and anything artificial.[171] Most Rastafari are vegetarian.[172]

The tenets of Sikhism do not advocate a particular stance on either vegetarianism or the consumption of meat,[173][174][175][176] but leave the decision of diet to the individual.[177] The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, however, prohibited "Amritdhari" Sikhs, or those that follow the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the Official Sikh Code of Conduct)[178] from eating Kutha meat, or meat which has been obtained from animals which have been killed in a ritualistic way. This is understood to have been for the political reason of maintaining independence from the then-new Muslim hegemony, as Muslims largely adhere to the ritualistic halal diet.[173][177]

"Amritdharis" that belong to some Sikh sects (e.g. Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Damdami Taksal, Namdhari[179] and Rarionwalay,[180] etc.) are vehemently against the consumption of meat and eggs (though they do consume and encourage the consumption of milk, butter and cheese).[181] This vegetarian stance has been traced back to the times of the British Raj, with the advent of many new Vaishnava converts.[177] In response to the varying views on diet throughout the Sikh population, Sikh Gurus have sought to clarify the Sikh view on diet, stressing their preference only for simplicity of diet. Guru Nanak said that over-consumption of food (Lobh, Greed) involves a drain on the Earth's resources and thus on life.[182][183] Passages from the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of Sikhs, also known as the Adi Granth) say that it is "foolish" to argue for the superiority of animal life, because though all life is related, only human life carries more importance: "Only fools argue whether to eat meat or not. Who can define what is meat and what is not meat? Who knows where the sin lies, being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian?"[177] The Sikh langar, or free temple meal, is largely lacto-vegetarian, though this is understood to be a result of efforts to present a meal that is respectful of the diets of any person who would wish to dine, rather than out of dogma.[176][177]

Environmental vegetarianism is based on the concern that the production of meat and animal products for mass consumption, especially through factory farming, is environmentally unsustainable. According to a 2006 United Nations initiative, the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide, and modern practices of raising animals for food contribute on a "massive scale" to air and water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. The initiative concluded that "the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."[184]

In addition, animal agriculture is a large source of greenhouse gases. According to a 2006 report it is responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions as estimated in 100-year CO2 equivalents. Livestock sources (including enteric fermentation and manure) account for about 3.1 percent of US anthropogenic GHG emissions expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents.[185] This EPA estimate is based on methodologies agreed to by the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC, with 100-year global warming potentials from the IPCC Second Assessment Report used in estimating GHG emissions as carbon dioxide equivalents.

Meat produced in a laboratory (called in vitro meat) may be more environmentally sustainable than regularly produced meat.[186] Reactions of vegetarians vary.[187] Rearing a relatively small number of grazing animals can be beneficial, as the Food Climate Research Network at Surrey University reports: "A little bit of livestock production is probably a good thing for the environment".[188]

In May 2009, Ghent, Belgium, was reported to be "the first [city] in the world to go vegetarian at least once a week" for environmental reasons, when local authorities decided to implement a "weekly meatless day". Civil servants would eat vegetarian meals one day per week, in recognition of the United Nations' report. Posters were put up by local authorities to encourage the population to take part on vegetarian days, and "veggie street maps" were printed to highlight vegetarian restaurants. In September 2009, schools in Ghent are due to have a weekly veggiedag ("vegetarian day") too.[189]

Public opinion and acceptance of meat-free food is expected to be more successful if its descriptive words focus less on the health aspects and more on the flavor.[190]

Some groups, such as PETA, promote vegetarianism as a way to offset poor treatment and working conditions of workers in the contemporary meat industry.[191] These groups cite studies showing the psychological damage caused by working in the meat industry, especially in factory and industrialised settings, and argue that the meat industry violates its labourers' human rights by assigning difficult and distressing tasks without adequate counselling, training and debriefing.[192][193][194] However, the working conditions of agricultural workers as a whole, particularly non-permanent workers, remain poor and well below conditions prevailing in other economic sectors.[195] Accidents, including pesticide poisoning, among farmers and plantation workers contribute to increased health risks, including increased mortality.[196] According to the International Labour Organization, agriculture is one of the three most dangerous jobs in the world.[197]

Similar to environmental vegetarianism is the concept of economic vegetarianism. An economic vegetarian is someone who practices vegetarianism from either the philosophical viewpoint concerning issues such as public health and curbing world starvation, the belief that the consumption of meat is economically unsound, part of a conscious simple living strategy or just out of necessity. According to the Worldwatch Institute, "Massive reductions in meat consumption in industrial nations will ease their health care burden while improving public health; declining livestock herds will take pressure off rangelands and grainlands, allowing the agricultural resource base to rejuvenate. As populations grow, lowering meat consumption worldwide will allow more efficient use of declining per capita land and water resources, while at the same time making grain more affordable to the world's chronically hungry."[198] According to estimates in 2016, adoption of vegetarianism would contribute substantially to global healthcare and environmental savings.[199]

Prejudice researcher Gordon Hodson observes that vegetarians and vegans frequently face discrimination where eating meat is held as a cultural norm.[200]

A 1992 market research study conducted by the Yankelovich research organisation concluded that "of the 12.4 million people [in the US] who call themselves vegetarian, 68% are female, while only 32% are male".[201]

At least one study indicates that vegetarian women are more likely to have female babies. A study of 6,000 pregnant women in 1998 "found that while the national average in Britain is 106 boys born to every 100 girls, for vegetarian mothers the ratio was just 85 boys to 100 girls".[202] Catherine Collins of the British Dietetic Association has dismissed this as a "statistical fluke" given that it is actually the male's genetic contribution which determines the sex of a baby.[202]

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Vegetarian ProCon.org

Many proponents of vegetarianism say that eating meat harms health, wastes resources, causes deforestation, and creates pollution. They often argue that killing animals for food is cruel and unethical since non-animal food sources are plentiful.

Many opponents of a vegetarian diet say that meat consumption is healthful and humane, and that producing vegetables causes many of the same environmental problems as producing meat. They also argue that humans have been eating and enjoying meat for 2.3 million years. Read more background...

For the purposes of this site a "vegetarian diet" is one that does not contain any meat (including poultry and seafood), but can contain eggs (ovo) and dairy (lacto) products, which is why the diet is sometimes called the ovo-lacto vegetarian diet. Vegans do not eat any animal products including meat, eggs, and dairy products.

It is cruel and unethical to kill animals for food when vegetarian options are available. Animals are sentient beings that have emotions and...

Human anatomy has evolved to support a primarily vegetarian diet.Humans do not have the large mouth or long, pointed teeth of carnivores...

A vegetarian diet delivers complete nutrition and can provide health benefits. According to the American Dietetic Association, a vegetarian...

A vegetarian diet can help alleviate world hunger. Over 10 pounds of plant protein are used to produce one pound of beef protein. If these grains...

A vegetarian diet reduces the chances of developing kidney stones and gallstones. Diets high in animal protein cause the body to excrete calcium...

A vegetarian diet provides a more healthful form of iron than a meat-based diet. Studies have linked heme iron found in red meat with an increased...

A vegetarian diet helps build healthy bones because vegetarians absorb more calcium than meat eaters. Meat has high renal acid levels which...

A vegetarian diet lowers the risk of heart disease. According to a peer-reviewed 1999 study of 76,000 people, vegetarians had 24% lower...

Eating meat increases the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. A peer-reviewed 2004 study from Harvard researchers found that eating meat increases...

Vegetarians live longer. A Mar. 12, 2012 peer-reviewed study of 121,342 people found that eating red meat was associated with an increased risk...

A vegetarian diet promotes a healthy weight. According to a peer-reviewed 2003 Oxford University study of 37,875 healthy men and women aged...

Studies show that vegetarians are up to 40% less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters. In 2015 the World Health Organization classified red meat as...

Overgrazing livestock hurts the environment through soil compaction, erosion, and harm to native plants and animals. About 70% of the 11...

A vegetarian diet conserves water. It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, and about 660 gallons to make a pound...

A vegetarian diet leads to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are created by enteric fermentation (aka animal farts and burps)...

Producing one hamburger destroys 55 square feet of rainforest. Between 1996-2006, 25 million acres of Amazon rainforest were cleared80% of...

Raising animals for food contributes to air and water pollution. Manure produces toxic hydrogen sulfide and ammonia which pollute the air and...

Many animals raised for food in the United States are not slaughtered humanely. The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) mandates that livestock...

Raising animals in confinement is cruel. About 50% of meat produced in the United States comes from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)...

A vegetarian diet reduces overuse of antibiotics. 70% of antibiotics sold in the United States go to livestock like cows, pigs, and chickens...

Eating fish is not more ethical, environmentally sound, or healthful than eating other animal protein sources. The US EPA states that...

Eating meat is not cruel or unethical; it is a natural part of the cycle of life. Vegetarians mistakenly elevate the value of animal life over plant...

Eating meat has been an essential part of human evolution for 2.3 million years. The inclusion of meat in the ancestral diet provided a dense...

Meat is the most convenient protein source available. In one serving, meat provides all the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein)...

Eating meat provides healthy saturated fats, which enhance the function of the immune and nervous systems. Saturated fats contain the...

Meat is the best source of vitamin B12, a vitamin necessary to nervous and digestive system health. Although it is also found in eggs and dairy...

Eating meat provides a better source of iron than a vegetarian diet. The body absorbs 15% to 35% of the heme iron in meat, but only absorbs 2% to...

A meat-centered diet can help with weight loss. It takes fewer calories to get protein from lean meat than it does from vegetarian options. One...

Raising beef is often the most efficient way to produce food for humans. About 85% of US grazing land is not suitable for raising crops humans...

Vegetarian diets are not necessarily better for the environment. About 90% of US cropland suffers from top soil loss at 13 times the sustainable...

Vegetarians do not live longer. This myth stems from the fact that vegetarians tend to be more health conscious overall, eating a more balanced...

US meat consumption does not significantly contribute to global deforestation, or loss of US forest land. In 2001 about 95% of animal products...

Processed vegetarian protein options such as tofu can cause more greenhouse gas pollution than farming meat. . A 2010 report from the World...

Becoming vegetarian will not help alleviate world hunger. The 925 million people in chronic hunger worldwide are not hungry because people in...

A diet that includes fish provides the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids. Fish are a powerful source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and...

Saturated fats from meat are not to blame for modern diseases like heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Chemically processed and hydrogenated vegetable oils...

Lean red meat, eaten in moderation, can be a healthful part of a balanced diet. According to researchers at the British Nutrition Foundation...

Modern slaughter techniques minimize the suffering of animals. US slaughterhouses must conform to the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA)...

There is nothing inherently cruel about raising animals for food. There is a growing movement to raise "cruelty free" organic meat...

The right to eat what we want, including meat, is a fundamental liberty that we must defend. Animal-rights and health groups are attempting to...

It is not necessary to become vegetarian to lower our environmental footprint. Some vegetarians eat an unhealthy diet, drive SUVs, and consume...

Vegetarian diets can cause the death of animals too. According to a 2003 study by Steven Davis at Oregon State University, about six animals...

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Becoming a vegetarian – Harvard Health

People become vegetarians for many reasons, including health, religious convictions, concerns about animal welfare or the use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock, or a desire to eat in a way that avoids excessive use of environmental resources. Some people follow a largely vegetarian diet because they can't afford to eat meat. Becoming a vegetarian has become more appealing and accessible, thanks to the year-round availability of fresh produce, more vegetarian dining options, and the growing culinary influence of cultures with largely plant-based diets.

Approximately six to eight million adults in the United States eat no meat, fish, or poultry, according to a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit organization that disseminates information about vegetarianism. Several million more have eliminated red meat but still eat chicken or fish. About two million have become vegans, forgoing not only animal flesh but also animal-based products such as milk, cheese, eggs, and gelatin.

Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, the pendulum has swung the other way, and studies are confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating. Nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses. According to the American Dietetic Association, "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases."

"Appropriately planned" is the operative term. Unless you follow recommended guidelines on nutrition, fat consumption, and weight control, becoming a vegetarian won't necessarily be good for you. A diet of soda, cheese pizza, and candy, after all, is technically "vegetarian." For health, it's important to make sure that you eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It's also vital to replace saturated and trans fats with good fats, such as those found in nuts, olive oil, and canola oil. And always keep in mind that if you eat too many calories, even from nutritious, low-fat, plant-based foods, you'll gain weight. So it's also important to practice portion control, read food labels, and engage in regular physical activity.

You can get many of the health benefits of being vegetarian without going all the way. For example, a Mediterranean eating pattern known to be associated with longer life and reduced risk of several chronic illnesses features an emphasis on plant foods with a sparing use of meat. Even if you don't want to become a complete vegetarian, you can steer your diet in that direction with a few simple substitutions, such as plant-based sources of protein beans or tofu, for example or fish instead of meat a couple of times a week.

Only you can decide whether a vegetarian diet is right for you. If better health is your goal, here are some things to consider.

Strictly speaking, vegetarians are people who don't eat meat, poultry, or seafood. But people with many different dietary patterns call themselves vegetarians, including the following:

Vegans (total vegetarians): Do not eat meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, and gelatin.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but do eat eggs and dairy products.

Lacto vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or eggs, but do consume dairy products.

Ovo vegetarians: Eat no meat, poultry, fish, or dairy products, but do eat eggs.

Partial vegetarians: Avoid meat but may eat fish (pesco-vegetarian, pescatarian) or poultry (pollo-vegetarian).

Maybe. Compared with meat eaters, vegetarians tend to consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and more vitamins C and E, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals), such as carotenoids and flavonoids. As a result, they're likely to have lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index (BMI), all of which are associated with longevity and a reduced risk for many chronic diseases.

But there still aren't enough data to say exactly how a vegetarian diet influences long-term health. It's difficult to tease out the influence of vegetarianism from other practices that vegetarians are more likely to follow, such as not smoking, not drinking excessively, and getting adequate exercise. But here's what some of the research has shown so far:

Heart disease. There's some evidence that vegetarians have a lower risk for cardiac events (such as a heart attack) and death from cardiac causes. In one of the largest studies a combined analysis of data from five prospective studies involving more than 76,000 participants published several years ago vegetarians were, on average, 25% less likely to die of heart disease. This result confirmed earlier findings from studies comparing vegetarian and nonvegetarian Seventh-day Adventists (members of this religious group avoid caffeine and don't drink or smoke; about 40% are vegetarians). In another study involving 65,000 people in the Oxford cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford), researchers found a 19% lower risk of death from heart disease among vegetarians. However, there were few deaths in either group, so the observed differences may have been due to chance.

For heart protection, it's best to choose high-fiber whole grains and legumes, which are digested slowly and have a low glycemic index that is, they help keep blood sugar levels steady. Soluble fiber also helps reduce cholesterol levels. Refined carbohydrates and starches like potatoes, white rice, and white-flour products cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which increases the risk of heart attack and diabetes (a risk factor for heart disease).

Nuts are also heart-protective. They have a low glycemic index and contain many antioxidants, vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, and healthy fatty acids. The downside: nuts pack a lot of calories, so restrict your daily intake to a small handful (about an ounce). The upside: because of their fat content, even a small amount of nuts can satisfy the appetite.

Walnuts, in particular, are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have many health benefits. Even so, fish are the best source of omega-3s, and it's not clear whether plant-derived omega-3s are an adequate substitute for fish in the diet. One study suggests that omega-3s from walnuts and fish both work to lower heart disease risk, but by different routes. Walnut omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) help reduce total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, while omega-3s from fish (eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) lower triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Cancer. Hundreds of studies suggest that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, and there's evidence that vegetarians have a lower incidence of cancer than nonvegetarians do. But the differences aren't large. A vegetarian diet can make it easier to get the recommended minimum of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, but a purely vegetarian diet is not necessarily better than a plant-based diet that also includes fish or poultry. For example, in a pooled analysis of data from the Oxford Vegetarian Study and EPIC-Oxford, fish-eaters had a lower risk of certain cancers than vegetarians.

If you stop eating red meat (whether or not you become a vegetarian), you'll eliminate a risk factor for colon cancer. It's not clear whether avoiding all animal products reduces the risk further. Vegetarians usually have lower levels of potentially carcinogenic substances in their colons, but studies comparing cancer rates in vegetarians and nonvegetarians have shown inconsistent results.

Type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that a predominantly plant-based diet can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. In studies of Seventh-day Adventists, vegetarians' risk of developing diabetes was half that of nonvegetarians, even after taking BMI into account. The Harvard-based Women's Health Study found a similar correlation between eating red meat (especially processed meats, such as bacon and hot dogs) and diabetes risk, after adjusting for BMI, total calorie intake, and exercise.

Some women are reluctant to try a vegetarian diet especially one that doesn't include calcium-rich dairy products because they're concerned about osteoporosis. Lacto-ovo vegetarians (see "Varieties of vegetarians") consume at least as much calcium as meat-eaters, but vegans typically consume less. In the EPIC-Oxford study, 75% of vegans got less than the recommended daily amount of calcium, and vegans in general had a relatively high rate of fractures. But vegans who consumed at least 525 milligrams of calcium per day were not especially vulnerable to fractures.

Certain vegetables can supply calcium, including bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, collards, and kale. (Spinach and Swiss chard, which also contain calcium, are not such good choices, because along with the calcium they have oxalates, which make it harder for the body to absorb calcium.) Moreover, the high potassium and magnesium content of fruits and vegetables reduces blood acidity, lowering the urinary excretion of calcium.

People who follow a vegetarian diet and especially a vegan diet may be at risk of getting insufficient vitamin D and vitamin K, both needed for bone health. Although green leafy vegetables contain some vitamin K, vegans may also need to rely on fortified foods, including some types of soy milk, rice milk, organic orange juice, and breakfast cereals. They may also want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.

Becoming a vegetarian requires planning and knowledge of plant-based nutrition. Here are some resources that can help:

American Dietetic Associationwww.eatright.org

The Vegetarian Resource Groupwww.vrg.org

Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdomwww.vegsoc.org

Concerns about vegetarian diets have focused mainly on the following nutrients:

Protein. Research shows that lacto-ovo vegetarians generally get the recommended daily amount of protein, which is easily obtained from dairy products and eggs. (Women need about 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Because the protein in vegetables is somewhat different from animal protein, vegans may need 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.) There are many plant sources that can help vegans meet their protein needs, including peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, nuts, soy products, and whole grains (for example, wheat, oats, barley, and brown rice). Vegetarians used to be told that they had to combine "complementary" plant proteins (rice with beans, for example) at every meal to get all the amino acids contained in meat protein. Now, health experts say that such rigid planning is unnecessary. According to the American Dietetic Association, eating a wide variety of protein sources every day is sufficient.

Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found only in animal products, but those products include dairy foods and eggs, so most vegetarians get all they need. If you avoid animal products altogether, you should eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 (certain soy and rice beverages and breakfast cereals) or take a vitamin B12 supplement to avoid a deficiency, which can cause neurological problems and pernicious anemia.

Iron. Studies show that in Western countries, vegetarians tend to get the same amount of iron as meat eaters. But the iron in meat (especially red meat) is more readily absorbed than the kind found in plant foods, known as non-heme iron. The absorption of non-heme iron is enhanced by vitamin C and other acids found in fruits and vegetables, but it may be inhibited by the phytic acid in whole grains, beans, lentils, seeds, and nuts.

Zinc. Phytic acid in whole grains, seeds, beans, and legumes also reduces zinc absorption, but vegetarians in Western countries do not appear to be zinc-deficient.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Diets that include no fish or eggs are low in EPA and DHA. Our bodies can convert ALA in plant foods to EPA and DHA, but not very efficiently. Vegans can get DHA from algae supplements, which increase blood levels of DHA as well as EPA (by a process called retroversion). DHA-fortified breakfast bars and soy milk are also available. Official dietary guidelines recommend 1.10 grams per day of ALA for women, but vegetarians who consume little or no EPA and DHA should probably get more than that. Good ALA sources include flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, and soy.

For more on eating for optimum health, buy the Harvard Special Health Report Healthy Eating: A guide to the new nutrition.

Disclaimer:As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Vegetarianism (for Parents) – KidsHealth

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Vegetarianism is a popular choice for many individuals and families. But parents may wonder if kids can safely follow a vegetarian diet and still get all necessary nutrients. Most dietary and medical experts agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can actually be a very healthy way to eat.

But special care must be taken when serving kids and teens a vegetarian diet, especially if it doesn't include dairy and egg products. And as with any diet, you'll need to understand that the nutritional needs of kids change as they grow.

Before your child or family switches to a vegetarian diet, it's important to note that all vegetarian diets are not alike. Major vegetarian categories include:

And many other people are semi-vegetarians who have eliminated red meat, but may eat poultry or fish.

Kids or families may follow a vegetarian diet for a variety of reasons. Younger vegetarians are usually part of a family that eats vegetarian meals for health, cultural, or other reasons. Older kids may decide to become vegetarians because of concern for animals, the environment, or their own health.

In most cases, you shouldn't be alarmed if your child chooses vegetarianism. Discuss what it means and how to implement it, ensuring your child makes healthy and nutritious food choices.

Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you plan and monitor a healthy vegetarian diet. Parents should give their kids a variety of foods that provide enough calories and nutrients to enable them to grow normally.

A well-planned vegetarian diet can meet kids' nutritional needs and has some health benefits. For example, a diet rich in fruits and veggies will be high in fiber and low in fat, factors known to improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight. However, kids and teens on a vegetarian diet may need to be careful that they get an adequate amount of certain vitamins and minerals.

Here are nutrients that vegetarians should get and some of their best food sources:

Depending on the type of vegetarian diet chosen, kids may miss out on some of these important nutrients if the diet isn't monitored by the parents. The less restrictive the vegetarian diet, the easier it will be for your child to get enough of the necessary nutrients. In some cases, fortified foods or supplements can help meet nutritional needs.

The main sources of protein and nutrients for infants are breast milk and formula (soy formula for vegan infants), especially in the first 6 months of life. Breastfed infant vegans should receive a source of vitamin B12 if the mother's diet isn't supplemented, and breastfed infants and infants drinking less than 32 ounces (1 liter) formula should get vitamin D supplements.

Guidelines for the introduction of solid foods are the same for vegetarian and nonvegetarian infants. Breastfed infants 6 months and older should receive iron from complementary foods, such as iron-fortified infant cereal.

Once an infant is introduced to solids, protein-rich vegetarian foods can include pureed tofu, cottage cheese, yogurt or soy yogurt, and pureed and strained legumes (legumes include beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils).

Toddlers are already a challenge when it comes to eating. As they come off of breast milk or formula, kids are at risk for nutritional deficiencies. After the age of 1, strict vegan diets may not offer growing toddlers enough essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and zinc.

So it's important to serve fortified cereals and nutrient-dense foods. Vitamin supplementation is recommended for young children whose diets may not provide adequate nutrients.

Toddlers are typically picky about which foods they'll eat and, as a result, some may not get enough calories from a vegetarian diet to thrive. For vegan toddlers, the amount of vegetables needed for proper nutrition and calories may be too bulky for their tiny stomachs.

During the picky toddler stage, it's important for vegetarian parents to make sure their young child eats enough calories. You can get enough fat and calories in a vegan child's diet, but you have to plan carefully.

Preteens and teens often voice their independence through the foods they choose to eat. One strong statement is the decision to stop eating meat. This is common among teens, who may decide to embrace vegetarianism in support of animal rights, for health reasons, or because friends are doing it.

If it's done right, a meat-free diet can actually be a good choice for adolescents, especially considering that vegetarians often eat more of the foods that most teens don't get enough of fruits and vegetables.

A vegetarian diet that includes dairy products and eggs (lacto-ovo) is the best choice for growing teens. A more strict vegetarian diet may fail to meet a teen's need for certain nutrients, such as iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamins D and B12. If you're concerned that your child is not getting enough of these important nutrients, talk to your doctor, who may recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement.

The good news for young vegetarians and their parents is that many schools are offering vegetarian fare, including salad bars and other healthy vegetarian choices. Schools publish lists of upcoming lunch menus; be sure to scan them to see if your child will have a vegetarian choice. If not, you can pack lunch.

If your vegetarian preteen or teen would rather make his or her own school lunch or opts to buy lunch, keep in mind that your child's idea of a healthy vegetarian meal may be much different from yours (e.g., french fries and a soda). Talk to your child about the importance of eating right, especially when following a vegetarian diet.

Also be wary if your child has self-imposed a very restrictive diet. A teen with an eating disorder may drastically reduce calories or cut out all fat or carbohydrates and call it "vegetarianism" because it's considered socially acceptable and healthy.

Even if preteens or teens are approaching vegetarianism in a healthy way, it's still important for them to understand which nutrients might be missing in their diet. To support your child's dietary decision and promote awareness of the kinds of foods your preteen or teen should be eating, consider having the whole family eat a vegetarian meal at least one night a week.

A vegetarian diet can be a healthy choice for all kids, as long as it's properly planned.

The principles of planning a vegetarian diet are the same as planning any healthy diet provide a variety of foods and include foods from all of the food groups. A balanced diet will provide the right combinations to meet nutritional needs. But be aware of potential nutrient deficiencies in your child's diet and figure out how you'll account for them. With a little exploration, you may find more vegetarian options than you realized.

If you aren't sure your child is getting all necessary nutrients or if you have any questions about vegetarian diets, check in with your family doctor, pediatrician, or a registered dietitian.

Date reviewed: October 2014

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Vegetarianism (for Parents) - KidsHealth

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vegetarianism | History, Types, & Facts | Britannica.com

Vegetarianism, the theory or practice of living solely upon vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nutswith or without the addition of milk products and eggsgenerally for ethical, ascetic, environmental, or nutritional reasons. All forms of flesh (meat, fowl, and seafood) are excluded from all vegetarian diets, but many vegetarians use milk and milk products; those in the West usually eat eggs also, but most vegetarians in India exclude them, as did those in the Mediterranean lands in Classical times. Vegetarians who exclude animal products altogether (and likewise avoid animal-derived products such as leather, silk, honey, and wool) are known as vegans. Those who use milk products are sometimes called lacto-vegetarians, and those who use eggs as well are called lacto-ovo vegetarians. Among some agricultural peoples, flesh eating has been infrequent except among the privileged classes; such people have rather misleadingly been called vegetarians.

Deliberate avoidance of flesh eating probably first appeared sporadically in ritual connections, either as a temporary purification or as qualification for a priestly function. Advocacy of a regular fleshless diet began about the middle of the 1st millennium bce in India and the eastern Mediterranean as part of the philosophical awakening of the time. In the Mediterranean, avoidance of flesh eating is first recorded as a teaching of the philosopher Pythagoras of Samos (c. 530 bce), who alleged the kinship of all animals as one basis for human benevolence toward other creatures. From Plato onward many pagan philosophers (e.g., Epicurus and Plutarch), especially the Neoplatonists, recommended a fleshless diet; the idea carried with it condemnation of bloody sacrifices in worship and was often associated with belief in the reincarnation of souls and, more generally, with a search for principles of cosmic harmony in accord with which human beings could live. In India, followers of Buddhism and Jainism refused on ethical and ascetic grounds to kill animals for food. Human beings, they believed, should not inflict harm on any sentient creature. This principle was soon taken up in Brahmanism and, later, Hinduism and was applied especially to the cow. As in Mediterranean thought, the idea carried with it condemnation of bloody sacrifices and was often associated with principles of cosmic harmony.

In later centuries the history of vegetarianism in the Indic and Mediterranean regions diverged significantly. In India itself, though Buddhism gradually declined, the ideal of harmlessness (ahimsa), with its corollary of a fleshless diet, spread steadily in the 1st millennium ce until many of the upper castes, and even some of the lower, had adopted it. Beyond India it was carried, with Buddhism, northward and eastward as far as China and Japan. In some countries, fish were included in an otherwise fleshless diet.

West of the Indus the great monotheistic traditions were less favourable to vegetarianism. The Hebrew Bible, however, records the belief that in paradise the earliest human beings had not eaten flesh. Ascetic Jewish groups and some early Christian leaders disapproved of flesh eating as gluttonous, cruel, and expensive. Some Christian monastic orders ruled out flesh eating, and its avoidance has been a penance and a spiritual exercise even for laypersons. A number of saints, such as St. Anthony of Egypt, were noted vegetarians. Many Muslims have been hostile to vegetarianism, yet some Muslim Sufi mystics recommended a meatless diet for spiritual seekers.

The 17th and 18th centuries in Europe were characterized by a greater interest in humanitarianism and the idea of moral progress, and sensitivity to animal suffering was accordingly revived. Certain Protestant groups came to adopt a fleshless diet as part of the goal of leading a perfectly sinless life. Persons of diverse philosophical views advocated vegetarianism; for example, Voltaire praised it, and Percy Bysshe Shelley and Henry David Thoreau practiced the diet. In the late 18th century the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham asserted that the suffering of animals, like the suffering of humans, was worthy of moral consideration, and he regarded cruelty to animals as analogous to racism.

Vegetarians of the early 19th century usually condemned the use of alcohol as well as flesh and appealed as much to nutritional advantages as to ethical sensibilities. As before, vegetarianism tended to be combined with other efforts toward a humane and cosmically harmonious way of life. Although the vegetarian movement as a whole was always carried forward by ethically inclined individuals, special institutions grew up to express vegetarian concerns as such. The first vegetarian society was formed in England in 1847 by the Bible Christian sect, and the International Vegetarian Union was founded tentatively in 1889 and more enduringly in 1908.

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