Vegetarianism encompasses the practice of following plant-based diets (fruits, vegetables, etc.), with or without the inclusion of dairy products or eggs, and with the exclusion of meat (red meat, poultry, and seafood). Abstention from by-products of animal slaughter, such as animal-derived rennet and gelatin, may also be practiced.
What's a Vegetarian?
“Vegetarian” is a blanket term for a variety of diets that exclude meat, poultry, and fish. The most healthful, the pure vegetarian (or "vegan") diet, only includes foods of plant origin, such as nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes. A "lacto-vegetarian" includes these plant foods and also dairy products. A "lacto-ovo-vegetarian" consumes both dairy and eggs.
Vegetarian and Semi-Vegetarian Diets
Different people follow different forms of vegetarianism. A true vegetarian eats no meat at all, including chicken and fish. A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats dairy products and eggs, but excludes meat, fish, and poultry. It follows, then, that a lacto vegetarian eats dairy products but not eggs, whereas an ovo vegetarian eats eggs but not dairy products.
Is Veg Healthier?
There is abundant evidence that vegetarian diets are more healthful than the average American diet, especially for preventing, treating or reversing heart disease and reducing the risk of cancer.1 Research has shown a low-fat vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to stop progression of coronary artery disease or prevent it altogether. Several other health conditions, such as diabetes,2 obesity,3 gallstones,4 and kidney stones,5 are much less common in vegetarians. The health benefits of a vegetarian diet may be linked to the fact that vegetarians tend to eat less animal fat, protein and cholesterol and more fiber and antioxidants.6 Simply put, the fewer animal foods and the more varied, whole plantfoods consumed, the healthier the individual will be compared to the general population.
The beginning of ethical vegetarianism is the knowledge that other creatures feel, and that their feelings are very similar to ours. This knowledge encourages one to ext¢nd personal awareness to also encompass the sufferings of others. This is the essence of compassion — the feeling of the sufferings of others, and sympathizing with them, and doing all we can to change such sorry conditions.
Because we know in ourselves the feeling of pain and suffering, we refuse to be a party to inflicting such anguish upon others.
There is a world of reasons to go meatless, from heart health to animal welfare. But nutritionally, there’s one tricky trade-off. You drastically shrink your body’s supply of six vital nutrients: protein and iron—which can be the toughest to get in adequate quantities—plus calcium, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
To help you fill in these gaps, we tapped the expertise of nutritionist Cynthia Sass, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association—and a vegan, so she totally gets it. We’ve identified the “great eight” foods on these pages. All are loaded with one or more of these hard-to-get nutrients.
Meat has a carbon footprint at the checkout of 17kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram. Cheese has 15kg. Cooked meats are also high at 11kg per kilogram, with bacon at 9kg. Exotic vegetables and mushrooms are high (9kg), largely because of freight and glasshouse heating costs. Wine has a carbon footprint of 2kg per kilogram, and potatoes, apples, milk, bread and cereals are under 2kg.
Author Professor Nick Hewitt said: “Greenhouse gases resulting from man’s activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, ultimately, with effects on global climate. It is clear that in order to meet the ambitious emissions reductions targets agreed in the UK and elsewhere, emissions from every possible source category have to be addressed and driven down. Food production, particularly by industrialized agricultural practices, causes significant greenhouse gas emissions. Realistic choices about diet can make substantial differences to embodied GHG emissions."
Flexitarians are also known as semi–vegetarians and occasionally eat meat.
Pesci–vegetarians eat fish, dairy, and eggs but don't eat meat or poultry.
Lacto–ovo vegetarians don't eat meat, but do eat eggs and dairy products (ovo means eggs and lacto means dairy).
Lacto vegetarians don't eat meat, but do eat dairy products. This is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
Ovo vegetarians don't eat meat but do eat eggs.
Vegans avoid eating any animal products. They don't eat any meat products, milk, cheese, eggs, honey, or gelatin. Many vegans choose not to wear clothes containing animal products, such as leather, wool, or silk, or wear makeup tested on animals.
Even as millions of Americans continue to gobble down gourmet burgers, dry-aged steaks, chef-driven charcuterie and bacon-wrapped everything, they’re regularly forced to consider the potential consequences of their actions. Environmentalists want us to think about the greenhouse gases that meat production creates. Humane advocates want us to consider the suffering of animals. Doctors want us to ponder the health implications. And the medical community would like us to understand the potential fallout — otherwise known as antibiotic resistance — of pumping farm animals full of drugs.
It’s as if America has become schizophrenic about meat: As the reasons to reduce or eliminate meat consumption increase, so do the sources of particularly tasty morsels of animal flesh.
What are some essential foods vegetarians should keep in the kitchen?
Dark green leafy vegetables
Dark orange or yellow vegetables
Black, navy, pinto and/or white beans (canned or dry)
Vegetarian baked or refried beans
Whole wheat bread, pasta, tortillas
Calcium fortified soy milk
Tofu Edamame (young green soy beans)
Texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
Seitan (gluten based meat substitute)
Nuts and seeds
Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.