What Does Vegetarianism Mean?
Definition of Vegetarianism
There are many different forms of vegetarianism (which often causes confusion!) A general definition of vegetarianism is:
Vegetarianism is the practice of living on products of the plant kingdom, with or without the use of eggs and dairy products, but excluding entirely the consumption of any part of the body of an animal as food (including chicken, fish and seafood). The term “vegetarian” means a person who follows such practice, or describes such a person, creature, establishment or food pertaining to vegetarianism.
The term “vegetarian” comes from “vegetus”, the Latin for “enlivened”, and has no connection, apart from a linguistic one, with vegetables. This is a common misconception.
Types of Vegetarians
Pesco- and Pollo-Vegetarian
Pesco-Vegetarians eat fish, and Pollo-Vegetarians eat chicken, but all other meats are avoided. These diets are not, strictly speaking, vegetarian. To avoid confusion about the term ‘vegetarian’, perhaps the correct classification should be ‘Pesco’ and ‘Pollo’ Omnivores.
‘Semi’ or ‘Demi’ Vegetarian or Flexitarian
‘Semi’ or ‘Demi’ Vegetarians or Flexitarians are people who eat mainly vegetarian food, but who occasionally eat meat and/or other animal products (e.g. for social, practical or cultural reasons). They are not, strictly speaking, vegetarian.
Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. Milk, dairy products and eggs are still consumed (lacto – milk; ovo – eggs).
(Some Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians eat foods that contain gelatine, animal-derived rennet, animal fat etc. but these products are technically not suitable for vegetarians.)
Lacto- and Ovo-Vegetarian
Both Lacto-Vegetarians and Ovo-Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. Lacto-Vegetarians still consume milk and dairy products, and Ovo-Vegetarians still consume eggs (lacto – milk; ovo – eggs).
(Some Lacto-Vegetarians and Ovo-Vegetarians eat foods that contain gelatine, animal-derived rennet, animal fat etc. but these products are technically not suitable for vegetarians.)
Pure Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, dairy products or eggs. The diet comprises vegetables, vegetable oils, cereals, legumes (peas and beans), nuts, fruit and seeds.
Honey is usually seen as being optional.
This diet is not as “boring” as it sounds due to the wide range of meat alternatives, non-dairy yogurts and ice-creams, biscuits, chocolates etc. available that are completely free of any animal products.
Vegans are Pure Vegetarians who exclude animal products from their entire lifestyle (e.g. wool, leather, soaps that contain animal fats, products tested on animals etc.).
Fruitarians are vegans who eat only the ripe fruits* of plants and trees, i.e. foods that can be harvested without killing plants or trees.
These foods consist primarily of culinary fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Some Fruitarians will eat only what falls naturally from a plant or tree. As with other dietary practices, such as raw foodism, some people consider themselves Fruitarian even if their diet is not 100% fruit.
Usually Fruitarians who include foods other than fruit follow a vegan diet.
* The term ‘fruit’ usually refers to plant fruits that are sweet and fleshy (including plums, apples, and oranges), but (botanically) also includes other fruits that are commonly called ‘vegetables’ (including capsicum, tomato, and cucumber), as well as nuts, legumes and grains.
Making the switch to a vegetarian diet, but not sure how to start?
Thanks to the increasing number of people reducing their intake of animal products, and the consequent rise in products catering to the needs of vegetarians, going vegetarian has never been easier.
There are hundreds of delicious, healthy vegetarian foods to satisfy every taste.
You’ll discover foods you love, and you’ll look better, feel better, and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that animals are not being killed for your food.
Beginning any new lifestyle can be challenging, but why not give it a go? Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to create complicated, gourmet vegetarian meals right from the start.
Start by “vegging up” meals you already eat by replacing the meat in favourite recipes, like lasagne, with Sanitarium’s Vegie Delights Mince.
Try some of the meat alternatives like Sanitarium’s Vegie Delights range (Hot Dogs; Curried Sausages; Soy Rashers; Not-Burgers; Deli Luncheon ‘meats’, BBQ Sausages; their Casserole Mince, Tender Pieces etc., the Fry’s range (Vegetarian Schnitzel, Vegetarian Nuggets etc.), the various brands and types of plain tofu, marinated tofu, tempeh, and the wide range of pre-packaged burger varieties etc etc. The list goes on…
Many of these meat alternatives taste quite similar to the real thing! It is recommended, however, that you try several brands so as you are able to find ones you really like the best.
Three Simple Steps to Go Vegetarian…
The switch to a vegetarian diet is easier than you might think:
(1) Think of some dishes that you enjoy now. With a little know-how, many of these can easily be adapted to being vegetarian. The meat in many dishes can be replaced with meat alternatives without compromising on flavour. Replacing meat in a few meals each week can contribute to reducing your overall intake of cholesterol and saturated fats. For example, the mince meat in spaghetti bolognese can be replaced with TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) or Sanitarium Casserole Mince; sliced meat in a salad roll can be replaced with Vegie Delights Smoked Deli Luncheon; meat in casseroles can be substituted with chunky TVP or Sanitarium Tender Pieces. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or you would like some suggestions for your favourite recipes.
(2) Sample various dishes at vegetarian restaurants to get some ideas for new and tasty meals.
(3) Borrow some vegetarian cookbooks from your local library or try some online recipes and experiment!
The following are great starting places for more information:
- Refer to the VegKit.com website
- Easy Vegetarian -This Australian website has been created for people who are thinking of becoming vegetarian, want to understand why a family member or friend is vegetarian, or for those who want to understand the basics of vegetarianism and its implications for animals, humans and the environment. This is a great link to send to your non-veg friends and family who might be interested in learning more about reducing or eliminating animal products.
- The free online book How to Successfully Become a Vegetarian
- Vegetarian Cooking Made Easy. A beginners guide to the vegetarian lifestyle. Discover practical tips to quickly and easily switch to a meat-free diet and for making healthy food choices – at home, at restaurants and even while you travel! You’ll learn how to get the nutrients you need while eating meals you enjoy! You’ll soon be looking and feeling better than you ever have before! Plus, you’ll get hundreds of easy-to-make, great-tasting vegetarian recipes FREE!
- Viva! (UK) has an L-Plate Vegetarian and an L-Plate Vegan guide for new veggies or vegans.
- 101 Reasons Why I’m a Vegetarian (USA) Heaps and heaps of reasons why people make the change to be veggo. By Pamela Rice.
- Veg Beginners, with Bryanna Grogan (USA) is a great message board site with lots of tips for new veggos. With Bryanna Grogan author of several vegan cookbooks.
- The Vegetarian Society of the UK has a wide selection of Information Sheets.
“I couldn’t possibly give up meat…”
Why couldn’t you?
It is not because you can’t get enough food or be as healthy without meat.
It is not because you couldn’t afford the alternative foods.
Embarrassment is not a problem because vegetarianism is a more than an acceptable lifestyle choice these days.
What is left then?
Basically mllions of us can’t give up meat because we like the taste. To put it bluntly: we are happy for animals to suffer and be killed to satisfy our taste preferences.
Have you ever tried to give it up? Or have you just pictured a vegetarian meal as being what is on your plate now minus the meat?
There are so many meat substitutes available. You can get meat-free steaks, hamburgers, sausages, pies, hot dogs, schnitzels, chicken and just about whatever else you desire from your supermarket.
Why not sample some dishes from a vegetarian or vegan restaurant and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how tasty and how varied meat-free cuisine can be.
Or try any of the thousands of vegetarian and vegan recipes obtainable from your local library or on the internet.
Even if you start by gradually reducing the amount of meat you eat, you are making a positive step towards reducing animal suffering.
As for living without meat completely, you can live without it. Indeed, expect to live longer (and healthier) without it!
(The above answer was adapted from the answer in the book But You Kill Ants, by John Waddell. This is a concise and informative little book that answers 100 of the most common arguments against vegetarian and vegan lifestyles)
Just because people have eaten meat for thousands of years doesn’t mean it’s a good reason for us to continue.
Traditionally, societies have also had slaves and women have been oppressed by men but most people are happy to have seen a change in our value systems and for us move beyond this.
Part of the joy of living is the growth we experience in our lives. Education, awareness and understanding make us better human beings.
And it is exactly this ability to adapt that has pushed us to explore and to make changes in our societies.
When all aspects are considered, the only reason why people eat meat is for the taste or convenience.
Some people will try to insist it is necessary for health but there is absolutely no evidence to support this argument.
A balanced vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients needed for human health. So in a modern society, is taste and convenience enough of a reason for all the detrimental impacts and suffering associated with meat production to continue?
Abundant energy! Radiant health! Clear conscience! Delicious food!
Compassionate living! The choice is yours…
Why Be Vegetarian?
There are many reasons why people go “veggo”, from health to ecological and religious concerns, compassion for animals, belief in non-violence, for economic reasons or purely because they dislike the taste of meat. On this page we briefly cover the 3 main reasons.
It’s better for your health…
Cholesterol (which is only found in animal products) and high levels of saturated fats have been linked with heart disease.
Removing animal products from your diet, or reducing your consumption of them, can considerably reduce your chances of developing heart-related problems.
Reducing your consumption of animal products can also help reduce the probability of developing certain forms of cancer.
For instance, studies have shown that vegetarians have up to 40% less chance of developing bowel cancer.
With heart disease and cancer being the leading causes of death in western countries, the importance of reducing our consumption of meat and animal products cannot be underestimated.
Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian Diets:
Abstract: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that 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.
“Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.
“A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12.
“A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients.
“An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes.
“The results of an evidence- based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.
“Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians.
“Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals.
“The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential.
“In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.”
Complete position paper available at: www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357&terms=vegetarian+diets.
It’s more humane…
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be vegetarian”
– Linda McCartney
Very few people could watch animals be slaughtered at an abattoir, watch the carcass be skinned, gutted and carved up, then sit down straight away and enjoy a steak.
Most of us have an innate sense of compassion and concern about suffering, it is often just that what is out of sight is out of mind.
We challenge you to visit an abattoir, a local intensive piggery or chicken farm, or see some of the cruelty involved in modern livestock production so you will be able to make an informed decision!
It’s better for the environment…
Throughout the world vast areas of natural habitats have, and are, being destroyed to create grazing land for livestock.
There are also issues of erosion, salinity, effluent disposal, methane production and wildlife extinction (due to habitat destruction) associated with livestock production.
And when only 7-10% of the food energy of grains and other food fed to intensively farmed animals is converted to the food energy available from meat, issues of wastage in an increasingly over-crowded world are also of concern.
10 Reasons to Go Vegetarian
There’s heaps of reasons to go veggo! We outline 10 of them on this page.
1. High on Health
Government and nutritional bodies throughout the world agree that a vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients required for good health.
For example, the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada state in their Position Statement on Vegetarian Diets:
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. … Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.
“Vegetarian diets offer a number of nutritional benefits, including lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein as well as higher levels of carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals.”
Vegetarians have less chance of developing many common diseases and health conditions: heart disease, hypertension, many cancers, obesity, strokes, osteoporosis, kidney stones, diabetes, hypoglycemia, kidney disease, peptic ulcers, gallstones, asthma, diverticulosis, constipation, macular degeneration (deterioration of the retina), and many other diseases and conditions.
The only foods that contain cholesterol are animal products – meat, eggs and dairy products. There is no cholesterol in plant foods whatsoever. So to help reduce your cholesterol level, reduce your intake of animal products.
A diet high in meat and animal products is also high in saturated fat, and can lead to a build up of plaque in arteries.
Recent research has shown that diets with excess protein can leach calcium from bones. This is because calcium is required in the metabolism of certain animo acids (the building blocks of protein) and this calcium is extracted from the bones.
Vegetarians get adequate protein, not excessive protein.
2. Elixir of Youth
Vegetarians can live longer, healthier lives.
One 21 year study that compared meat-eaters and vegetarians showed that the greater the meat consumption, the greater the death rate from all causes combined.
And according to William Castelli, Director of the Framingham Heart Study, vegetarians outlive other people by six years.
The China Health Study also supports these findings.
High in phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits strengthens the immune system, keeps you healthy, and slows the ageing process.
A plant-based diet provides sustained, healthy endurance!
3. Flab Fighter
Vegetarians, generally, are slimmer than meat-eaters.
Being slim places less stress and strain on the body, and can give you more energy and vitality.
And you also look better and feel more attractive!
4. Damage Control
Chemicals and toxins occur throughout the environment. However, it is the consumption of meat and animal products that greatly accumulates these toxins in the body.
For example, birds eating contaminated fish acquire all of the toxins that the fish have accumulated.
This is referred to as ‘bio-accumulation’.
Eating plant foods, which are at the bottom of the food chain, minimises your intake of these contaminants and toxins.
The best way to de-tox is to go veggo and eat plenty of fresh fruit and veggies.
5. Playing it Safe
Most foodborne illnesses are transmitted via meat and dairy products.
“Ground beef is the most likely source of E. coli O157:H7, poultry carry Salmonella and Campylobacter, and the consumption of raw shellfish has caused infection with Vibrio vulnificus,” says David Swerdlow of the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Any raw food – including fruits and vegetables – can carry harmful bacteria, but meat, seafood, and poultry are the most likely culprits in foodborne illness. *
6. Clear Conscience
Hidden from public view is the death-driven meat industry that treats sentient life forms as an economic production commodity.
In ancient times, when animals were sacrificed, the spirit of the doomed animal was often acknowledged in special ceremonies.
Today this has given way to cold-blooded assembly line slaughtering processes. And this debasing of animal life debases our own lives.
Remove meat from your diet and enjoy a clear conscience.
It is not only the slaughter of the animals that vegetarians don’t have on their conscience, but they are also not supporting modern intensive farming methods that treat animals so appallingly throughout their entire lives – confining them in inhumane, artificial, crowded conditions, providing little or no capacity for them to live anything remotely like a natural life, or follow their natural instincts.
It is fortunate for the meat industry that everything is carried out behind closed doors because most people would be otherwise outraged.
It is estimated that the average vegetarian saves the lives of 6 cows, 22 pigs, 30 sheep, 800 chickens, 50 turkeys, 15 ducks and half a ton of fish.*
7. Satisfaction Assured
Veggie food tastes great! Contrary to what many meat-eaters think, vegetarian meals do not just consist of boring salads, vegetables, tofu and lentils.
With the many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks around it is not difficult to make a large variety of completely satisfying vegetarian meals.
You can even make many of your favourite non-vegetarian dishes by substituting meat with readily available meat alternatives that provide tastes and textures very similar to meat, but with less saturated fat and without the cholesterol.
The quality of meat alternatives these days is excellent and new products are coming onto the market all the time.
There are many meat alternatives currently available include the Sanitarium Vegie Delights range, the various brands and types of plain tofu, marinated tofu, tempeh, and the wide range of pre-packaged burger varieties etc etc. The list goes on…
All of these alternatives are readily available.
But remember, different people have different tastes so it is advisable to try a selection of brands and varieties until you find the products you like the best.
8. Sustainable Living
Meat is an incredibly wasteful way of producing food.
Depending on the type of animal it takes between 10kg and 20kg of feed to produce 1kg of meat.
As the human population increases and the demand for resources escalates, such a wasteful food production method can no longer be justified.
It is far more efficient, and makes much more sense, to live lower on the food chain and grow food directly for people rather than for animals.
A reduction in meat production would significantly increase the food available for human consumption.
It’s crazy to think that while millions of people starve in the Third World, the Western World wastes enormous amounts of food feeding animals because of an insatiable desire for meat.
If everyone in the world went vegetarian we could feed the whole world with much less impact on the environment.
People who eat meat require much vaster areas of land for the production of their food.
The expansion of the meat and dairy industries over the decades has resulted in huge losses of habitat, much, much more than that for the production of plant foods. (And much of this plant food goes to feed animals anyway!) The major factor in the loss of bio-diversity is, by far, habitat destruction.
Clearing of land for grazing is the major contributing factor in salinisation and soil erosion.
Overgrazing in semi arid areas can lead to desertification.
Water consumption and usage is extremely high in the meat and dairy industries.
Effluent disposal from intensive animal farming operations is a major problem and can lead to severe pollution of waterways and ground water.
Manure in sewage ponds or heaps, and the animals themselves, produce millions of tons of methane each year.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is contributing to global warming.
A True Economy is one in which all externalities and costs of production are considered. In agriculture this includes costs of fuel, water, agri-chemicals, top soil loss, erosion, salinity, effluent disposal, greenhouse gas emissions, transport etc.
Clearing of forests, grasslands and other habitat are other costs. If all the costs associated with production of meat were included in the price, and if all government subsidies were removed, no-one could afford to eat it!
10. A Happier Hip Pocket
Sure, you can spend $22 a kilogram on organic snow peas, and $5 for a packets of vege-sausages, but overall, most plant foods and plant-based foods, are comparatively cheap. And these lower prices show up when you eat out.
Check for yourself on most restaurant menus – the vegetarian dishes are usually significantly cheaper than the meat, seafood, and poultry dishes.
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