Vegetarianism is the practice of following a diet that excludes meat (including game and slaughter by-products; fish, shellfish and other sea animals; and poultry). There are several variants of the diet, some of which also exclude eggs and/or some products produced from animal labour such as dairy products and honey. The vegan diet is a form of vegetarianism which excludes all animal products from the diet, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, and honey. Those who practice veganism for ethical reasons often exclude animal products from their diet as part of a larger practice of abstaining from the use of animals for any purpose (e.g. leather, fur, etc.), often out of support for animal rights. Most vegetarians consume dairy products, and many eat eggs. Lacto-vegetarianism includes dairy products but excludes eggs, ovo-vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy, and lacto-ovo vegetarianism includes both eggs and dairy products. Vegetarianism is usually adopted for ethical, health, environmental, and/or religious reasons. Other reasons may or may not include: politics, culture, society, aesthetics, or economics. A generic term for both vegetarianism and veganism, as well as for similar diets, is "plant-based diets".

Terminology and varieties of vegetarianism
Foods in the main vegetarian diets Diet name Meat, poultry, fish Lacto-ovo vegetarianism No Lacto vegetarianism No Ovo vegetarianism No Veganism No Eggs Yes No Yes No Dairy Yes Yes No No Honey Yes Yes Yes Varies[6][7][8]

Other dietary practices commonly associated with vegetarianism
Fruitarianism is a diet of only fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant. Su vegetarianism (such as in Buddhism), excludes all animal products as well as the fetid vegetables: onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, or shallots. Macrobiotic diet is a diet of mostly whole grains and beans. Not all macrobiotics are vegetarians, as some consume fish. Raw veganism is a diet of fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

Dietary veganism: whereas vegans do not use animal products of any kind, dietary vegans restrict their veganism to their diet. Some vegetarians also avoid products that may use animal ingredients not included in their labels or which use animal products in their manufacturing e.g. cheeses that use animal rennet, gelatin (from animal skin, bones, and connective tissue), some sugars that are whitened with bone char (e.g. cane sugar, but not beet sugar) and alcohol clarified with gelatin or crushed shellfish and sturgeon. Vegetarians who eat eggs sometimes prefer free-range eggs (as opposed to battery farmed eggs).

Semi-vegetarian diets
Semi-vegetarian diets primarily consist of vegetarian foods, but make exceptions for some non-vegetarian foods. These diets may be followed by those who choose to reduce the amount of animal flesh consumed, or sometimes as a way of transitioning to a vegetarian diet. These terms are neologisms based on the word "vegetarian". They may be regarded with contention by some strict vegetarians, as they combine terms for vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. Additionally, many individuals describe themselves as simply "vegetarian" while actually practicing a semi-vegetarian diet. Semi-vegetarianism: A diet that excludes certain meats, particularly red meat, but includes others. Flexitarianism: A diet that consists primarily of vegetarian food, but includes occasional exceptions.

The Vegetarian Society, founded in 1847, claims to have "created the word vegetarian from the Latin 'vegetus' meaning 'lively' (which is how these early vegetarians claimed their diet made them feel) ..." However, the Oxford English Dictionary and other standard dictionaries state that the word was formed from the term "vegetable" and the suffix "-arian". The Oxford English Dictionary also gives evidence that the word was already in use before the foundation of the Vegetarian Society: 1839 - "If I had had to be my own cook, I should inevitably become a vegetarian." (F. A. Kemble, Jrnl. Residence on Georgian Plantation (1863) 251) 1842 - "To tell a healthy vegetarian that his diet is very uncongenial with the wants of his nature." (Healthian, Apr. 34)

but notes that "The general use of the word appears to have been largely due to the formation of the Vegetarian Society at Ramsgate in 1847."

The earliest records of vegetarianism as a concept and practice amongst a significant number of people come from ancient India and the ancient Greek civilisation in Southern Italy and in Greece in the 6th century BCE. In both instances the diet was closely connected with the idea of nonviolence towards animals (called ahimsa in India) and was promoted by religious groups and philosophers. Following the Christianisation of the Roman Empire in late antiquity, vegetarianism practically disappeared from Europe. Several orders of monks in medieval Europe restricted or banned the consumption of meat for ascetic reasons, but none of them eschewed fish. Vegetarianism re-emerged somewhat in Europe during the Renaissance. It became a more widespread practice in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1847 the first Vegetarian Society was founded in England; Germany, the Netherlands and other countries followed. The International Vegetarian Union, a union 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, and more recently, environmental and economic concerns. Today, Indian vegetarians, primarily lacto vegetarians, are estimated to make up more than 70% of the world's vegetarians. They make up 20–42% of the population in India, while less than 30% are regular meateaters. Other estimates indicate that contrary to popular belief, India is not a predominantly vegetarian country. But a quarter of the population is reckoned, based on census data, to be vegetarian. The statewise data is as follows: 69% of Gujarat 60% of Rajasthan 54% of Punjab-Haryana 50% of Uttar Pradesh 45% of Madhya Pradesh 34% of Karnataka 30% of Maharashtra 21% of Tamil Nadu 16% of Andhra Pradesh 15% of Assam

6% in Kerala, Orissa and West Bengal Surveys in the U.S. have found that roughly 1–2.8% of adults eat no meat (including poultry or fish). Surveys in the UK have found that roughly 11% of the population are vegetarian.[

Health benefits and concerns
Vegetarianism is considered a healthy, viable diet. The American Dietetic Association and the Dietitians of Canada have found a properly planned vegetarian diet to satisfy the nutritional needs for all stages of life, and large-scale studies have shown vegetarianism to significantly lower risks of cancer, ischaemic heart disease, and other fatal diseases. Necessary nutrients, proteins, and amino acids for the body's sustenance can be found in vegetables, grains, nuts, soymilk, eggs and dairy. Vegetarian diets can aid in keeping body weight under control and substantially reduce risks of heart disease and osteoporosis. Non-lean red meat, in particular, has been found to be directly associated with dramatically increased risk of cancers of the lung, oesophagus, liver, and colon. Other studies have shown that there were no significant differences between vegetarians and nonvegetarians in mortality from cerebrovascular disease, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, or prostate cancer, although the sample of vegetarians was small and included ex-smokers who had switched their diet within the last five years. The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada have stated: "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 tend to have lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, dementias such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other disorders. Concerns are also expressed with relation to dental health. Lactic acid and uric acid can lead to demineralization of dentin and enamel. Meat partially transforms to uric acid with digestion and red meat itself also contains uric acid as a product of nitrogen metabolism.


A fruit and vegetable stall in Barcelona Western vegetarian diets are typically high in carotenoids, but relatively low in longchain n-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12. 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). High levels of dietary fibre, 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.

Protein intake in vegetarian diets is only slightly lower than in meat diets and can meet daily requirements for any person, including athletes and bodybuilders. Studies by Harvard University as well as other studies conducted in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and various European countries, have confirmed that vegetarian diets provide sufficient protein intake as long as a variety of plant sources are available and consumed. Proteins are composed of amino acids, and a common concern with protein acquired from vegetable sources is an adequate intake of the "essential amino acids", which cannot be synthesised by the human body. While dairy and egg products provide complete sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians, the only vegetable sources with significant amounts of all eight types of essential amino acids are lupin, soy, hempseed, chia seed, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. It is not necessary, however, to obtain protein from these sources—the essential amino acids can also be obtained by eating a variety of complementary plant sources that, in combination, provide all eight essential amino acids (e.g. brown rice and beans, or hummus and whole wheat pita, though protein combining in the same meal is not necessary). A varied intake of such sources can be adequate, a 1994 study found. Some years later, it became clear that even "combining proteins" is not necessary. As reported by Dr. Weil in 2000 in his print newsletter, and as reiterated in a 2002 post on his website, and again in the 2005 update: You may have heard that vegetable sources of protein are 'incomplete' and become 'complete' only when correctly combined. Research has discredited that notion so you

don't have to worry that you won't get enough usable protein if you don't put together some magical combination of foods at each meal.

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. Vegetarian foods rich in iron include black beans, cashews, hempseed, kidney beans, lentils, oatmeal, raisins, black-eyed peas, soybeans, many breakfast cereals, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, tomato juice, tempeh, molasses, and whole-wheat bread. The related vegan diets can often be higher in iron than vegetarian diets, because dairy products are low in iron. Iron stores often tend to be lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians and iron deficiency is thus more common in vegetarian and vegan women and children (adult males are rarely iron deficient), however, iron deficiency anaemia is rare no matter the diet.

Vitamin B12
Plants are not generally significant sources of Vitamin B12. However, lacto-ovo vegetarians can obtain B12 from dairy products and eggs, and vegans can obtain it from fortified foods and dietary supplements. Since the human body preserves B12 and reuses it without destroying the substance, clinical evidence of B12 deficiency is uncommon. The body can preserve stores of the vitamin for up to 30 years without needing its supplies to be replenished. The recommendation of taking supplements has been challenged by studies indicating that exogenous B12 may actually interfere with the proper absorption of this vitamin in its natural form. The research on vitamin B12 sources has increased in the latest years.

Fatty acids
Fish is a non-vegetarian source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Plant-based, or vegetarian, sources exist such as soy, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, canola oil and especially hempseed, chia seed, flaxseed, and purslane. Purslane contains more Omega 3 than any other known leafy green. Plant foods can provide alpha-linolenic acid but not the long-chain n-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are found in low levels in eggs and dairy products. 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. Recently, some companies have begun to market vegetarian DHA supplements containing seaweed extracts. Similar supplements providing both DHA and EPA have also begun to appear. 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).

Calcium intake in vegetarians is similar to non-vegetarians. Some impaired bone mineralisation has been found among vegans who do not consume enough leafy greens, which are sources of abundant calcium. However, this is not found in lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D levels do not appear to be lower in vegetarians (although studies have shown that much of the general population is deficient). Vitamin D needs can be met via the human body's own generation upon sufficient and sensible UV sun exposure. Products including milk, soy milk and cereal grains may be fortified to provide a good source of Vitamin D and mushrooms provide over 2700 IU per serving (approx. 3 oz or 1/2 cup) of vitamin D2, if exposed to just 5 minutes of UV light after being harvested; for those who do not get adequate sun exposure and/or food sources, Vitamin D supplementation may be necessary.

A 1999 metastudy compared five major studies from western countries. The study found that the mortality ratio was the lowest in fish eaters (0.82) followed by vegetarians (0.84) and occasional meat eaters (0.84), and was then followed by regular meat eaters (1.0) and vegans (1.0). When the study made its best estimate of mortality ratio with confounding factors considered, the mortality ratio for vegetarians was found to be (0.94). In "Mortality in British vegetarians",[30] it was concluded that "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." The Adventist Health Study is an ongoing study of 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 1–1/2 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. 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.[74] 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." 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. 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 omnivores. Carboxymethyllysine is a glycation product which represents "a general marker of oxidative stress and long-term damage of proteins in aging, atherosclerosis and diabetes." "Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) may play an important adverse role in process of atherosclerosis, diabetes, aging and chronic renal failure." The researchers theorised that it may be the higher fructose intake of these particular vegetarians (from higher fruit and vegetable intake) that increased their AGEs levels

E. coli
Vegetarianism is believed to reduce E. coli infections, and proponents point to the link between E. coli contaminations in food and industrial scale meat and dairy farms. A 2006 United States E. coli outbreak was traced to a nearby beef cattle operation."[78] E. coli can be acquired from any excrement-contaminated food or human commensal bacteria. The recent cases of spinach and onions with E. coli contamination in the U.S. shows that vegetarian foods are also susceptible to food safety concerns. In 2005, some people who had consumed triple-washed, pre-packaged lettuce were infected with E. coli, and in 2007, branded lettuce salad were recalled after they were found to be contaminated by E. coli In fact E. coli outbreaks have also involved unpasteurised apples, orange juice, milk, alfalfa sprouts,[84] and even water.

Other food scares
Various animal food safety scares over recent years have led to increased numbers of people choosing a semi-vegetarian or vegetarian diet.[86] These scares have included Avian influenza in poultry, foot-and-mouth disease in sheep, PCBs in farmed salmon, mercury in fish, generally high dioxin concentrations in animal products, and artificial growth hormones, antibiotics or BSE, also known as Mad Cow Disease, in cows. According to various organisations, Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans is strongly linked with exposure to the BSE agent that has been found in beef. Toxins such as lead and mercury can bioaccumulate in animal products in higher concentrations than what is considered safe. Vegetables and fruits have a risk of being contaminated by pesticide residue or by banned chemicals being used to ripen fruits. Recent cases of several widespread outbreaks of salmonella infection, including outbreaks from contaminated peanut butter, frozen pot pies & puffed vegetable snacks also indicate that vegetarian foodstuff is susceptible to contamination.

Medical use
In Western medicine, patients are sometimes advised to adhere to a vegetarian diet. Certain alternative medicines, such as Ayurveda and Siddha, prescribe a vegetarian diet as a normal procedure.

The mainstream scientific consensus is that humans are physiologically best suited to an omnivore diet. The Vegetarian Resource Group, among others, has concluded that humans are naturally omnivores based on the human ability to digest meat, as well as plant foods, with the correspondent metabolic tendency to an adaptation that makes them need both animal and vegetable nourishment. Other arguments hold that humans are more anatomically similar to herbivores, with long intestinal tracts and blunt teeth,

unlike omnivores and carnivores. Human teeth, including relatively blunt canines, are more similar to those found in animals with herbivore diets than in carnivores and most omnivores. Nutritional experts believe that early hominids evolved into eating meat as a result of huge climatic changes that took place three to four million years ago, when forests and jungles dried up and became open grasslands and opened hunting and scavenging opportunities. Animal-to-human disease transmissions The consumption of meat can cause a transmission of a number of diseases from animals to humans. The connection between infected animal and human illness is well established in the case of salmonella; an estimated one-third to one-half of all chicken meat marketed in the United States is contaminated with salmonella. Only recently, however, have scientists begun to suspect that there is a similar connection between animal meat and human cancer, birth defects, mutations, and many other diseases in humans. In 1975, one study found 75 percent of supermarket samples of cow's milk, and 75 percent of egg samples to contain the leukemia (cancer) virus. By 1985, nearly 100 percent of the eggs tested, or the hens they came from, had the cancer virus. The rate of disease among chickens is so high that the Department of Labor has ranked the poultry industry as one of the most hazardous occupations - not for the chickens but for those who raise, slaughter and process them. 20 percent of all cows are afflicted with a variety of cancer known as bovine leukemia virus (BLV). Studies have increasingly linked BLV with HTLV-1, the first human retrovirus discovered to cause cancer. Scientists have successfully infected human cells with a bovine immunodeficiency virus (BIV), the equivalent of the AIDS virus in cows.[99] It is supposed that BIV may have a role in the development of a number of malignant or slow viruses in humans. The proximity of animals in industrial-scale animal farming leads to an increased rate of disease transmission. Transition of animal influenza viruses to humans has been documented, but illness from such cases is rare compared to that caused by the now common human-adapted older influenza viruses, transferred from animals to humans in the more distant past The first documented case was in 1959, and in 1998, 18 new human cases of H5N1 influenza were diagnosed, in which six people died. In 1997 more cases of H5N1 avian influenza were found in chickens in Hong Kong. Whether tuberculosis originated in cattle and was then transferred to humans, or diverged from a common ancestor infecting a different species, is currently unclear. The strongest evidence for a domestic-animal origin exists for measles and pertussis, although the data do not exclude a non-domestic origin. According to the 'Hunter Theory', the "simplest and most plausible explanation for the cross-species transmission" the AIDS virus was transmitted from a chimpanzee to a human when a bushmeat hunter was bitten or cut while hunting or butchering an animal

Historian Norman Cantor, in In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It made (2001), suggests the Black Death might have been a combination of pandemics including a form of anthrax, a cattle murrain. He cites many forms of evidence including the fact that meat from infected cattle was known to have been sold in many rural English areas prior to the onset of the plague.

Various ethical reasons have been suggested for choosing vegetarianism. It has been argued, for example, that the production, slaughter, and consumption of meat or animal products is unethical. Reasons for this include a belief in animal rights, an aversion to inflicting pain or harm on other sentient beings, or a belief that the unnecessary killing of other animals is inherently wrong. It has also been argued that although production and consumption of meat may be acceptable on its own terms, the methods by which animals are reared in the commercial industry are unethical. The book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer has been very influential on the animal rights movement and specifically ethics-based vegetarianism. In developed countries, ethical vegetarianism has become popular particularly after the spread of factory farming, a system of livestock farming where animals are kept indoors throughout the greater part of their lives in conditions of very restricted mobility. Pigs, chickens, and veal calves are the animals most often kept under these conditions. Arguments that do not pertain to animal rights exist in many vegetarian philosophies as well. The advance of global warming is one of these key issues in environmental vegetarians. According to a study done by the University of Chicago and reprinted in Time magazine, switching from a meat-eating diet to vegetarianism reduces one carbon footprint by 1.4 times the amount of switching from a Toyota Camry to a Hybrid car. This is because of the amount of methane produced by livestock, methane being a 32% more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Shipment of the grain and the cattle itself also plays a part in this issue, being that it takes 8 pounds of grain to get 1 pound of meat. Many vegetarians feel that eating so high up on the food chain plays too large a part in global starvation to justify meat consumption.


Indian cuisine offers a wide range of vegetarian delicacies because Hinduism, practiced by majority of India's populace, encourages vegetarian diet. Shown here is a vegetarian thali. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism teach vegetarianism as moral conduct. Buddhism in general does not prohibit meat eating, while Mahayana Buddhism encourages vegetarianism as beneficial for developing compassion. Other denominations that advocate a fully vegetarian diet include the Seventh-day Adventists, the Rastafari movement and the Hare Krishnas. Sikhism does not equate spirituality with diet.[citation needed]

Some major paths of Hinduism hold vegetarianism as an ideal. There are three main reasons for this: the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) applied to animals; the intention to offer only "pure" (vegetarian) food to a deity and then to receive it back as prasad; and the conviction that non-vegetarian food is detrimental for the mind and for spiritual development. Nonviolence is a common concern of all the vegetarian traditions in Hinduism; the other two aspects are relevant for those who follow special spiritual paths However, the food habits of Hindus vary according to their community and according to regional traditions. Hindu vegetarians usually eschew eggs but consume milk and dairy products, so they are lacto-vegetarians. Milk and milk products are vital in the traditional food habits of India

Followers of Jainism are most commonly lacto-vegetarians. No products obtained from dead animals are allowed. Jains hold vegetarianism as the ideal diet in a similar fashion to Hindu traditions but with emphasis on their principle of non-violence (ahimsa). This is for them an indispensable condition for spiritual progress. Some particularly dedicated individuals are fruitarians. Honey is forbidden, because its collection is seen as violence against the bees. Some Jains do not consume plant parts that grow underground such as roots and bulbs, because tiny animals may be killed when the plants are pulled up.


A vegetarian dinner at a Japanese Buddhist temple Theravadins consider that taking of life and eating meat which is killed on their behalf to be the same. 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. Buddha did not make any comment discouraging them to eat meat (except specific types, such as human flesh) nor did he make any rule or prohibition in his religion on any thing. Killing of any creature however great or small is an offense (against the first precept) In Mahayana Buddhism, there are several Sanskrit texts where the Buddha instructs his followers to avoid meat. Mahayana Buddhism advises monks to be strictly vegetarian and it is recommended for laypeople, but not required.[citation needed]

Followers of Sikhism do not have a preference for meat or vegetarian consumption. Although many Sikhs do eat meat, some initiated Sikhs or "amritdharis" that belong to Sikh Sects (eg Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Namdhari, Rarionwalay, etc.) abstain from the consumption of meat and eggs. Mainstream "amritdhari" Sikhs (i.e. those that follow the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the Sikh code of conduct) are not compelled to be meat free. In the case of meat, the Sikh Gurus have indicated their preference for a simple diet and depending on what one sees as a simple diet this could include meat or be vegetarian. Passages from the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of Sikhs, also known as the Adi Granth) says that fools argue over this issue. Guru Nanak said that any consumption of food involves a drain on the Earth's resources and thus on life. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, prohibited the Sikhs from the consumption of halal or Kutha (any ritually slaughtered meat) meat because of the Sikh belief that sacrificing an animal in the name of God is mere ritualism (something to be avoided).

A number of medieval scholars of Jewish religion (e.g. Joseph Albo) regard vegetarianism as a moral ideal, not because of a concern for the welfare of animals, but because of the fact that the slaughter of animals might cause the individual who performs such acts to develop negative character traits. Therefore, their concern was with regard to possible harmful effects upon human character rather than with animal welfare. Indeed, Rabbi Joseph Albo maintains that renunciation of the consumption of meat for reasons of concern for animal welfare is not only morally erroneous but even repugnant. One modern-day scholar who is often cited as in favour of vegetarianism is the late Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. It is indeed the case that in his writings, Rabbi Kook speaks of vegetarianism as an ideal, and points to the fact that Adam did not partake of the flesh of animals. In context, however, Rabbi Kook makes those comments in his

portrayal of the eschatological (messianic) era. He regards man's moral state in that period as being akin to that of Adam before his sin and does indeed view renunciation of enjoyment of animal flesh as part of the heightened moral awareness which will be manifest at that time Rabbi Kook is emphatic in admonishing that vegetarianism not be adopted as a norm of human conduct prior to the advent of the eschatological era. According to some Kabbalists, only a mystic, who is able to sense and elevate the reincarnated human souls and "divine sparks", is permitted to consume meat, though eating the flesh of an animal might still cause spiritual damage to the soul. A number of Orthodox Jewish vegetarian groups and activists promote such ideas and believe that the halakhic permission to eat meat is a temporary leniency for those who are not ready yet to accept the vegetarian diet. Having ties with both ancient Judaism and Christianity members of the ancient Essene religious group practiced strict vegetarianism sharing a similar belief with the Hindus'/Jains' idea of Ahimsa or "harmlessness". Translation of the Torah's Ten Commandments state "thou shalt not murder." Many argue that this can also be taken as meaning not to kill at all, animals nor humans, or at least "that one shall not kill unnecessarily," in the same manner that onerous restrictions on slavery in the Bible have been interpreted by modern theologians as to suggest banning the practice. It is written in the Torah, in the book of Devarim "When YHVH your God enlarges your border, as He has promised you, and you will say: 'I will eat meat', because your being desires to eat meat; you may eat meat, after all that your being desires."

While vegetarianism is not a common practice in current western Christian thought and culture, the concept and practice have scriptural and historical support. According to the Bible, in the beginning, humans and animals were vegetarian. Immediately after the Flood, God permitted the eating of meat, however, some maintain that God permitted the consumption of meat temporarily because all plants had been destroyed as a result of the flood. Some Christians believe that the Bible explains that, in the future, humans and animals will return to vegetarianism.

Islam allows the consumption of meat, if the meat is "halal". The choice to live vegetarian is a personal decision only, supported by a general religious philosophy stressing kind treatment of animals. Vegetarianism has been practiced by some influential Muslims including the Iraqi theologian, female mystic and poet Râbi‘ah al-‘Adawîyah of Basrah, 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. Muslims have the freedom of choice to be vegetarian for medical reasons or if they do not personally like the taste of meat. However, the choice to become vegetarian can be controversial. Although the number of Muslim vegetarians today is increasing, individual adherents tend to keep quiet about it. In January 1996, The International Vegetarian Union announced the formation of the Muslim Vegetarian/Vegan Society. Many Muslims who normally eat meat will select vegetarian options when dining in non-halal restaurants. This way they can be certain to observe dietary restrictions Rastafari Within the Afro-Caribbean community, a minority are Rastafarian 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 and skillfully laid down tradition originating from the African ancestry and cultural heritage of Rastafari. Most Rastafarians are vegetarian. Utensils made from natural material such as stone or earthenware are preferred. Neopaganism Many who practice a faith that falls under the Neopagan umbrella also practice vegetarianism. Since Neopaganism generally emphasises the sanctity of Earth and Nature, a vegetarian diet is sometimes adopted out of concern for the environment and/or animal welfare.

Environmental vegetarianism is based on the belief 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 contributes 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." In addition, animal agriculture is a large source of greenhouse gases and is responsible for 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all of the world's transportation (including all cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, and planes) emits 13.5 percent of the CO2. Animal farming produces 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide and 37 percent of all human-

induced methane. The habitat for wildlife provided by large industrial monoculture farms is very poor, and modern industrial agriculture has been considered a threat to biodiversity[146] compared with farming practices such as organic farming, permaculture, pastoral, and rainfed agriculture. Animals fed on grain, and those that rely on grazing, need far more water than grain crops. According to the USDA, growing the crops necessary to feed farmed animals requires nearly half of the United States' water supply and 80 percent of its agricultural land. Additionally, animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90 percent of the soy crop, 80 percent of the corn crop, and a total of 70 percent of its grain. When tracking food animal production from the feed trough to consumption, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from 4:1 up to 54:1 energy input to protein output ratio. This firstly because the feed first needs to be grown before it is eaten by the cattle, and secondly because warm-blooded vertebrates need to use a lot of calories just to stay warm (unlike plants or insects). An index which can be used as a measure is the efficiency of conversion of ingested food to body substance, which indicates, for example, that only 10% is converted to body substance by beef cattle, versus 19–31% by silkworms and 44% by German cockroaches. Ecology professor David Pimentel has claimed, "If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million." To produce animal based food seems to be, according to these studies, typically much less efficient than the harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits. However, this would not apply to animals that are grazed rather than fed, especially those grazed on land that could not be used for other purposes. Nor would it apply to cultivation of insects for food, which may be more environmentally sustainable than eating food coming from cattle farming.[149] Meat produced in a laboratory (called in vitro meat) may be also more environmentally sustainable than regularly produced meat. According to the theory of trophic dynamics, it requires 10 times as many crops to feed animals being bred for meat production as it would to feed the same number of people on a vegetarian diet. Currently, 70 percent of all the wheat, corn, and other grain produced is fed to farmed animals. This has led many proponents of vegetarianism to believe that it is ecologically irresponsible to consume meat. Rearing a relatively small number grazing animals is often beneficial, as observed by the Food Climate Research Network at Surrey University, which reports, "A little bit of livestock production is probably a good thing for the environment". “ The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider.

— Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change In May 2009, Ghent 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.

Labour conditions
Some groups, such as PETA, promote vegetarianism as a way to offset poor treatment and working conditions of workers in the contemporary meat industry .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. 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. Accidents, including pesticide poisoning, among farmers and plantation workers contribute to increased health risks, including increased mortality. In fact, according to the International Labour Organization, agriculture is one of the three most dangerous jobs in the world.

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." Economic vegetarians also may include people from third world countries who follow a de facto vegetarian diet due to the high price of meat.

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