Vegetarianism has a long history, and today it is a very common
diet. Some people are on a vegetarian diet because their doctors
told them to do so, for example, but for many others it is
more than just a diet – it is a lifestyle, too.
The broadest definition of a vegetarian is someone who doesn’t
eat any meat, fish, and poultry. The strictest form is the
vegan who doesn’t consume any animal products at all,
including eggs, honey, or dairy products and won’t even
buy leather products.
There are several different reasons for someone to become a
vegetarian. A major one might be health. In today’s world
it seems that everybody is talking about saturated fats, cholesterol,
carbohydrates, and so on. It is in the newspaper, on TV, on
the radio – everywhere. The statistics say that over
50 percent of all Americans are overweight, and since we all
know that meats contain a lot of fat and are harder to digest
than vegetables, some people choose the vegetarian diet to
prevent illnesses or to lose weight.
Another reason to become a vegetarian might be environmental
concerns. Did you know that the U.S. meat industry, for example,
consumes over half of all water used for all purposes in the
United States? Or that consumer use up approximately 55 square
feet of tropical rainforest by just eating one quarter-pound
Others are vegetarians because they are aware that by eating
animal flesh we also consume the many antibiotics, hormones,
and pesticides that were fed to the animals before they were
slaughtered for food. These people avoid eating meat in order
to keep their own bodies both clean and healthy. Vegetarians
in general either buy their foods at regular supermarkets or
health food stores. They eat a wide range of foods, such as
vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, and dairy
products. They also have access to a variety of meat substitutes
such as vegetarian sausage, “chicken” chunks, and “beef”,
all based on soy.
Tofu, a curd made of soy beans, is also a popular vegetarian
food. It doesn’t contain a lot of fat and provides a
lot of protein.
However, followers of a vegetarian diet have to keep in mind
that the right balance of the diet is essential to health.
It doesn’t do a vegetarian any good if all he or she
eats is lots of oil, in foods like French fries, for example,
a lot of sweets, or fatty foods. According to the Physicians
Committee for Responsible Medicine, the four essential food
groups for humans are: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and
legumes (beans and peas). Vegetarians, like everyone else,
must balance these food groups in their diets.
The choice of becoming a vegetarian is a big one with deep-reaching
consequences. It profoundly changes one’s lifestyle.
It also changes one’s relationship with nature, for one
no longer worries about the conditions under which one’s