What is a vegetarian?
To put it simply, a vegetarian is a person who does not eat meat or fish from any animal.
Why would someone become vegetarian?
Becoming a vegetarian is often a very personal thing that people do for their own reasons, however some of the most common reasons are:
Ethics is the most common reason why people become vegetarian. Most vegetarians believe that killing an animal for food, when eating meat is not necessary to live and be healthy is fundamentally wrong. Many vegetarians stop eating meat due to the abuse of animals in factory farms, where they are kept in deplorable conditions.
Health is another very common reason for people to become vegetarian, especially with all of the recent research showing the meat, especially red meat, can cause cancer and other diseases that are commonly associated with western lifestyles. Other studies have shown links between vegetarianism and overall longevity.
Some people avoid meat due to their religious beliefs that prohibit the consumption of meat. Jainism is an example of a religion that completely prohibit meat consumption and Hinduism and Buddhism discourage it.
Dislike of Meat
Many people become vegetarians simply because they dislike the taste of meat. For many vegetarians who stopped eating meat for this reason, their dislike of meat started in childhood and continued throughout their life. People who became vegetarians for this reason have often been vegetarian for far longer than people who became vegetarian for other reasons.
Vegetarian and vegan diets have a far lower carbon footprint, require less land, and use less resources than diets that contain meat and fish. Being a vegetarian is one of the easiest ways in which you can reduce your carbon footprint.
What can’t vegetarians eat?
The types of food that vegetarians can or cannot eat depends on the type of vegetarian:
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian – A lacto-ovo vegetarian only avoids food that comes from the death of an animal such as meat, fish and other seafood. The lacto-ovo part means that they can eat dairy products (lacto) and eggs (ovo).
Lacto Vegetarian – A lacto vegetarian is similar to the lacto-ovo vegetarian mentioned above, but they will not eat eggs. This is normally either due to the cruelty that can be inherent to the egg production industry or due to an allergy. A lacto vegetarian will consume dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt
Ovo vegetarian – An ovo vegetarian is a vegetarian who will consume eggs, but not dairy products such as milk, cheese, or yoghurt. Many ovo vegetarians are either against the practices inherent in the dairy industry or some ovo vegetarians are lactose intolerant, so they are not able to consume most dairy products.
What is a pescatarian?
A pescatarian is someone who does not eat meat such a poultry or beef, but continues to eat seafood such as fish. Usually pescetarians avoid meat, but continue to eat fish because meat is less healthy than fish.
What is a vegan?
A vegan is a vegetarian who avoids using ANY AND ALL animal products. This includes not eating eggs, milk, and honey, and also avoiding non food animal products such as leather, shellac, and wool.
Can vegetarians wear leather shoes?
Whether a vegetarian chooses to wear leather or not is a personal choice. A vegetarian who avoids meat for health or taste reasons may often continue to wear leather, whereas someone who is vegetarian for ethical reasons will usually avoid wearing leather as ethically, it is similar to eating meat as it involves the death of an animal.
Do vegetarian diets have enough vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that is present in animal products and some fermented foods. While a healthy vegetarian diet that contains some animal products such as milk and cheese should have adequate amounts of vitamin b12 to be healthy, it is generally recommended that vegans supplement with vitamin b12 in order to avoid a deficiency. While some vegan foods do contain vitamin b12, it is the less bioavailable type so relying on food alone may not be enough.
Do vegetarian diets have enough vitamin D?
Inadequate vitamin D is not only a problem for vegetarians and vegans, it is also a problem for omnivores too. While some non-vegetarian food sources such as fish are rich in vitamin D, you can also obtain vitamin D from foods such a milk, cheese and eggs.
If you live in a sunny part of the world and go outside regularly, you will be able to get all of the vitamin D that you need just from sunlight exposure, whereas if you live in the north you will need to eat vitamin D rich foods or supplement during the winter months where the sun is not high enough in the sky for your skin to produce vitamin D.
Can I get enough Iron from a vegetarian diet?
While type of iron that is present in meat is of a more bioavailable type, it is still possible to obtain enough iron from a well balanced vegetarian diet. Good sources of iron for vegetarians are eggs, leafy green vegetables, beans, and fortified cereals. Consuming iron rich foods with vitamin c rich foods will improve the bioavailability of the iron, making it easier for your body to absorb. If you are prone to anemia, it can be a good idea to take an iron supplement.
Where do vegetarians get protein from?
It is a common misconception that vegetarian diets are deficient in protein. However, there are a huge number of protein rich vegetarian foods. These include beans, lentils, milk, cheese, eggs, quinoa, soy and numerous other foods. It is actually very easy to get enough protein as a vegetarian or vegan as long as you have a healthy and balanced diet.
Can vegetarians be athletes and bodybuilders?
Many people believe that vegetarians are weak and sickly, however this could not be further from the truth. There are a growing number of vegetarian and vegan athletes and bodybuilders out there are are extremely fit and strong and have even found that being a vegetarian or vegan has improved their fitness and strength considerably.
Is it safe for children to be vegetarian?
Many parents worry that if their child wants to become a vegetarian that they will not get all of the nutrients that they need to grow up to be a healthy adult. However, a well planned and balanced vegetarian diet will be far healthier for your child than a standard western diet and can greatly reduce the chances of your child becoming obese, which is sadly becoming more and more common in this age of highly processed junk foods.
If you child would like to become a vegetarian, they should be commended for thinking about what they are eating and the consequences of it, you have obviously raised them well!
How do I know if the product that I buy is suitable for vegetarians?
These days, it is far easier to know if a product is vegetarian or vegan as both lifestyles have become more popular, many food manufacturers now label their foods vegetarian or vegan, which makes it far easier to tell at a quick glance whether a product is vegetarian or vegan.
Will I get bored of only eating vegetables?
No! There are plenty of delicious and interesting recipes out there for vegetarians, with many different cuisines from Italian to Indian. If you have a craving for meat, there are many replacement meat products available from burgers, to sausages, to fake chicken pieces.
Is it harder to cook vegetarian food?
Changing diets can initially be challenging, especially if you have been following your current diet for a long time. However, once you have learned a few recipes it can be a lot easier. If at first you are struggling to decide what to eat, you can buy meat replacement products such a soya mince or fake chicken pieces to be used instead of meat in your normal recipes. Though we recommend trying out some vegetarian recipes, as there are some extremely tasty ones that you will be missing out on!
Is vegetarian food more expensive?
Whether vegetarian food is more expensive than a standard western diet depends on the type of vegetarian diet that you will be following. If you intend to buy lots of fake meat products, then it can be slightly more expensive in some cases. However, if you eat more traditional vegetarians diets using protein sources such as lentils and beans it can be extremely cheap!
Will I be able to eat out at restaurants as a vegetarian?
20 years ago, eating out at a restaurant as a vegetarian or vegan could be problematic, now it is easy! Most restaurants now have vegetarian or vegan options and there are also lots of restaurants that specifically cater to vegetarians or vegans, especially if you live in a major city.