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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 animal slaughter.
Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons. Many object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life. Such ethical motivations have been codified under various religious beliefs, along with animal rights. Other motivations for vegetarianism are health-related, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic, economic, or personal preference. There are varieties of the diet as well: an ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy products, a lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but not eggs, and an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including eggs, dairy and honey. Some vegans also avoid other animal products such as beeswax, leather or silk clothing and goose-fat shoe polish.
Various packaged or processed foods, including cake, cookies, candies, chocolate, yogurt and marshmallows, often contain unfamiliar animal ingredients, and may be a special concern for vegetarians due to the likelihood of such additions. Often, products are reviewed by vegetarians for animal-derived ingredients prior to purchase or consumption. Vegetarians vary in their feelings regarding these ingredients, however. For example, while some vegetarians may be unaware of animal-derived rennet's role in the usual production of cheese and may therefore unknowingly consume the product; other vegetarians may not take issue with its consumption.
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. A pescetarian diet has been described as "fish but no other meat". 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.
The word vegetarian has been in use since 1839, referring to what was previously described as "vegetable diet". It is commonly believed to be a compound of vegetable and the suffix -arian (as in agrarian). (John Davis shows that it was probably not derived from the Latin word vegetus) The term was popularised with the foundation of the Vegetarian Society in Manchester, UK in 1847. The earliest occurrences of the term seem to be related to Alcott House, a school on the north side of Ham Common, London, opened in July 1838 by James Pierrepont Greaves. From 1841, it was known as A Concordium or Industry Harmony College, from which time the institution began to publish its own pamphlet, "The Healthian" which provides some of the earliest occurrences of the term "vegetarian".
There are a number of vegetarian diets, which exclude or include various foods.
Buddhist vegetarianism. Different Buddhist traditions have differing teachings on diet, which may also vary for ordained monks and nuns compared to others. Many interpret the precept 'not to kill' to require abstinence from meat, but not all. In Taiwan, su vegetarianism excludes not only all animal products but also vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives or shallots.
Fruitarianism permits only fruit, nuts, seeds and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.
Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables.
Macrobiotic diets consist mostly of whole grains and beans.
Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk and honey.
Sattvic diet (also known as yogic diet), a plant based diet which may also include dairy (not eggs) and honey, but excludes anything from the onion or leek family, red lentils, durian fruit, mushrooms, blue cheeses, fermented foods or sauces, alcoholic drinks and often also excludes coffee, black or green tea, chocolate, nutmeg or any other type of stimulant such as excess sharp spices.
Veganism excludes all animal flesh and by-products, such as milk, honey, and eggs, as well as items refined or manufactured through any such product, such as bone-char refined white sugar or animal-tested baking soda.
Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature, for instance using a dehydrator.
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) gelatine (derived from the collagen inside animals' skin, bones and connective tissue), some cane sugar (but not beet sugar) and apple juice/alcohol clarified with gelatine or crushed shellfish and sturgeon, while other vegetarians are unaware of or do not mind such ingredients.
Individuals sometimes label themselves "vegetarian" while practicing a semi-vegetarian diet, as some dictionary definitions describe vegetarianism as sometimes including the consumption of fish, or only include mammalian flesh as part of their definition of meat, while other definitions exclude fish and all animal flesh. In other cases, individuals may describe themselves as "flexitarian". 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:
Macrobiotic diet consisting mostly of whole grains and beans, but may sometimes include fish.
Pescetarianism, which includes fish and possibly other forms of seafood.
"Pollo-pescetarian", which includes poultry and fish or "white meat" only.
Pollotarianism, which includes chicken and possibly other poultry;
Semi-vegetarianism is contested by vegetarian groups, such as the Vegetarian Society, which states that vegetarianism excludes all animal flesh.
Vegetarian cuisine is based on food that meets vegetarian standards by not including meat and animal tissue products (such as gelatine or animal-derived rennet). For lacto-ovo vegetarianism (the most common type of vegetarianism in the Western world), eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese are permitted. For lacto vegetarianism, the earliest known type of vegetarianism (recorded in India), dairy products such as milk and cheese are permitted. The strictest forms of vegetarianism are veganism and fruitarianism, which exclude all animal products, including dairy products as well as honey, and even some refined sugars if filtered and whitened with bone char.
Vegetarian foods can be classified into several different types:
Traditional foods that have always been vegetarian include cereals, grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts.
Soy products including tofu and tempeh which are common protein sources.
Textured vegetable protein (TVP), made from defatted soy flour, often included in chilli and burger recipes in place of ground meat.
Meat analogues, which mimic the taste, texture and appearance of meat and are often used in recipes that traditionally contained meat.
Vegans may also use analogues for eggs and dairy products (such as aquafaba, plant cream or plant milk).
Veganism is both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. A follower of either the diet or the philosophy is known as a vegan (pronounced vee-gən).
Distinctions are sometimes made between several categories of veganism. Dietary vegans refrain from ingesting animal products. This means avoiding not only meat but also egg and dairy products and other animal-derived foodstuffs. Some dietary vegans choose to wear clothing that includes animal products (for example, leather or wool). The term ethical vegan is often applied to those who extend the philosophy beyond diet into other areas of their lives. This philosophy means opposing the use of animal products for any purpose. Environmental veganism refers to avoiding animal products on the premise that harvesting or industrial farming of animals is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
The term vegan was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when he co-founded the Vegan Society in England. At first this meant "non-dairy vegetarian" and later "the doctrine that man should live without exploiting animals". Interest in veganism increased in the 2010’s; more vegan shops opened, and vegan options became increasingly available in more supermarkets and restaurants in many countries.
Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phytochemicals, and lower in dietary energy, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. Well-planned vegan diets can reduce the risk of some types of chronic disease including heart disease. Vegan diets are regarded as appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and Dieticians of Canada. Because uncontaminated plant foods do not provide vitamin B12 (which is produced by microorganisms such as bacteria), researchers agree that vegans should eat B12-fortified foods or take a supplement.