Gnocchi with mushrooms and tomatoes,
a vegetarian dish.
is the practice of not consuming the flesh of any animal (including sea animals) with or without
also eschewing other animal derivatives, such as dairy products
. Some vegetarians choose to also refrain from wearing clothing that has involved the death of animals, such as leather
, sometimes called "strict vegetarianism", excludes all animal products from diet and attire, whether or not their production has involved the actual death of an animal (dairy
and down feathers
). Vegetarians have varied motivations including religious, cultural, ethical, environmental, social, economic, and health concerns.
 Terminology and varieties of vegetarianism
 Main varieties
There are many different practices of vegetarianism. The following table summarizes the practices of various different types of vegetarian diet:
 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.
- Macrobiotic diet is a diet of mostly whole grains and beans. Not all macrobiotics are vegetarians as some consume fish.
- Natural hygiene in its classic form recommends a diet principally of raw vegan foods.
- Raw veganism is a diet of fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
- Freeganism — argues all commodities produced under capitalism, not only those from animal sources, contribute to exploitation and avoid buying anything, including food. Freegans thus focus on acquiring foods and other commodities by means other than purchasing, including foraging for wild plants and gardening with intent to cause as little violence and ecological destruction as possible through their consumption. While many freegans are vegans or vegetarians, others will eat animal products that would otherwise go to waste on the belief that doing this does not encourage further animal exploitation.
Roadside restaurant, Kullu, India
Some terms for non-vegetarian diets are neologisms derived from word "vegetarianism", used to describe a diet that accepts some subset of meat in addition to vegetarian diet:
- Pescetarianism (sometimes called "Pesco-vegetarianism") — A diet in which the only animals consumed are fish or other seafood.
- Pollotarianism — A diet in which the only animals consumed are fowl.
- Flexitarianism — A diet that consists primarily of vegetarian food, but that allows occasional exceptions.
 Vegetarian cuisine
For lacto-ovo vegetarians, this generally means food that excludes ingredients derived directly from the death of animals, such as meat (including fish), meat broth, cheeses that use animal rennet, gelatin (from animal skin, bones, and connective tissue), and for the strictest, even 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.
 Vegetarian diet
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), vegetarians who eat milk products and eggs enjoy excellent health. Vegetarian diets are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and can meet Recommended Dietary Allowances for nutrients. It is possible to obtain enough protein from a vegetarian diet so long as the variety and amounts of foods consumed are adequate. Meat, fish, and poultry are major contributors of iron, zinc, and B vitamins in most American diets, and vegetarians should pay special attention to these nutrients.
"Vegans eat only food of plant origin. As animal products are the main food sources of vitamin B12, vegans eat plenty of yeast extract such as Marmite or take supplements to ensure an adequate supply of this vitamin. Vegan diets, particularly those of children, require care to ensure adequacy of vitamin D and calcium."
Protein is made up of amino acids, eight of which cannot be synthesized by the human body and are called "essential amino acids". While dairy and egg products provide complete sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians, the only vegetable sources with all nine types of essential amino acids are soy, hempseed, 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 (eg. rice and beans, or hummus and pita). While it is a common myth that complementary protein sources must be combined within a single meal to maximize nutritional benefit, a varied intake of complementary sources over the course of a day (or a number of days) is generally sufficient, especially when protein consumption is substantially above minimum physiological requirements.
It is often claimed that the word "vegetarian" was invented with the formation of the first Vegetarian Society in 1847. In fact, their website claims "[they] created the word vegetarian from the Latin 'vegetus' meaning 'lively' (which is how these early vegetarians claimed their diet made them feel) in 1847..."  and "[the] term vegetarian has nothing to do with vegetables, but is taken from the Latin word for lively - vegetus." .
However, the Oxford English Dictionary cites two quotations pre-dating the 1847 foundation of the Vegetarian Society:
- 1839 F. A. KEMBLE Jrnl. Residence on Georgian Plantation (1863) 251 If I had had to be my own cook, I should inevitably become a vegetarian.
- 1842 Healthian Apr. 34 To tell a healthy vegetarian that his diet is very uncongenial with the wants of his nature.
Though, the OED also 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."
- Vegetarians in Europe used to be called "Pythagoreans", after the philosopher Pythagoras and his followers, who abstained from meat in the 6th century BC. They followed a vegetarian diet for nutritional and ethical reasons. According to the Roman poet Ovid, Pythagoras said: "As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love."
- Gnostics were also primarily vegetarians for spiritual reasons. They believed by eating animals a person would be grounding themselves to this world and their body, which they believed was an evil created by the Demiurge, because they would be consuming divine sparks and thus sinning.
- Buddhist monks of the Mahayana school (100 CE) have also historically practiced vegetarianism.
- Many Hindu scriptures advocate vegetarian diet. The secular literature of Tirukural (circa. 100—300 AD) advocates vegetarianism.
- Vegetarianism in the 19th century was associated with many cultural reform movements, such as temperance and anti-vivisection. Many "new women" feminists at the end of the century were vegetarians.
- Vegetarian societies (apart from India) were first formed in majority meat-eating European countries both as a means to promote the diet and to gather for mutual support. By 2000, most Western and developing nations had functioning vegetarian societies. The countries that were first to establish societies are still the ones most likely to have the greatest proportion of vegetarians within their populations.
- In the Western world, the popularity of vegetarianism steadily grew over 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 meat-eaters.
- Surveys in the U.S. have found that roughly 1–2.8% of adults eat no meat, poultry, or fish.
 Motivations and benefits
People choose vegetarianism for various reasons.
 Religious and spiritual
The majority of the world's vegetarians are Hindu. Hinduism and Jainism teach vegetarianism as moral conduct while Christianity and Islam generally do not. Buddhism in general does not prohibit meat eating while Chinese Mahayana Buddhism encourages vegetarianism. Minor denominations that advocate a fully vegetarian diet include the Seventh-day Adventists, the Rastafari movement and the Hare Krishnas.
Some adherents of Eastern religions, such as Mahatma Gandhi, claim that spiritual awareness and experiences are greatly enhanced on a vegetarian diet. In the Western world there are also individuals like James Redfield who, independent from any specific religious beliefs, share the same sentiment. In the West this spirituality motivation is regarded by many as a New Age reason for being vegetarian. These people believe that vegetarianism helps an individual to explore deeper levels of consciousness, find inner peace and establish a connection with the Divine, through such practices as meditation, yoga or whirling.
Most major paths of Hinduism hold vegetarianism as the ideal, this is for a variety of reasons based on different beliefs. For many Hindus, it is a textually-advocated belief in ahimsa (nonviolence), to avoid indulgences (as meat was considered an indulgence), and to reduce bad karmic influences. For others (especially within Vaishnavism and the bhakti movements), it is because their chosen deity does not accept offerings of non-vegetarian foods, which the follower then accepts as prasad.
Generally there is the belief, based on scriptures such as Bhagavad Gita that one's food shapes the personality, mood and mind. Meat is said to promote sloth and ignorance and a mental state known as tamas while a vegetarian diet is considered to promote satvic qualities, calm the mind, and be essential for spiritual progress. The Vedic and Puranic scriptures of Hinduism assert that animals have souls and the act of killing animals without due course has considerable karmic repercussions (i.e the killer will suffer the pain of the animal he has killed in this life or the next). The principle of Ahimsa (non-violence) compels one to refrain from injuring any living creature, physically, mentally or emotionally without good reason. Most of the secular motivations for vegetarianism such as ethical considerations and nutrition apply to Hindu motivations as well.
In the Jewish religion people are permitted to consume meat, with some restrictions. Jewish law, or halakha, forbids the eating of meat and dairy products together. It also restricts which animals can be eaten to mammals with split hooves and that chew their cud, fish with fins and scales, and certain bird species. Animals are also required to be slaughtered in a manner that minimizes their suffering. There are some in the Jewish community that believe it to be a religious obligation to eat meat on the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays based on a statement in the Talmud; however, it is generally accepted that it is okay not to eat meat on those days, if one does not enjoy it. Jewish law technically requires everyone to eat meat once a year for the Passover offering, but it only applied when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. Today, some Jews choose not to eat meat simply due to the difficulty of finding kosher meat or poultry in areas far from established Jewish communities. Others do not eat meat since the modern food industry routinely violates the prohibition of tza'ar ba'alei chaim (causing needless pain to animals). There are also those who do not eat meat because they believe that while Jewish law permits meat, doing so is not ideal. This is based on the story in Genesis, where Noah and his family were allowed to eat meat after the Flood, whereas it had been forbidden previously. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook believed that the permission given to Noah to eat meat "after all the desire of your soul" was a temporary concession, a concealed reproach implicit in the subsequent restrictions given for eating meat, which he believed were designed to inspire a sense of reverence for life, ultimately leading people away from their meat-eating habit. Vegetarianism upholds the highest ideals of Judaism. There are also a large number of Jews who are vegetarians by choice with no relation to their religious beliefs.
Followers of Jainism hold vegetarianism as the ideal diet in a similar fashion to the Hindu traditions but with a greater emphasis on the principle of all-round non-violence (ahimsa). Some particularly dedicated individuals go to the extent of straining insects from drinking water, wearing masks to avoid inhaling small, airborne creatures, and eating only fruits that have fallen naturally from trees. A strict Jain is not supposed to consume honey or rooted plants such as onions, potatoes, or garlic as well as abstaining from any meat products. It is believed that the people who want to sublimate their spiritual life should abstain from use of forbidden food.
Jain vegetarianism promotes non-violence by not killing the animals or even plants by not uprooting them. Adherents are permitted to consume dairy products such as butter, milk etc.
Chinese Mahayana Buddhists oppose meat eating for their followers but not necessarily for those who do not practice Chinese Buddhism. The Mahayana schools of Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism do not consider a vegetarian diet to be essential, nor do Theravadin Buddhists, although Theravadin Buddhists will refuse meat if the animal has been killed specifically for them.
Some Buddhists, especially in Asia, practice vegetarianism. The same classification has been stated in the ancient Chinese medical book <<本草纲目>> published in the year 1596 AD. The Chinese doctor Lee Shi Zhen spent 27 years adding, editing and correcting medical lores with the result that the book contains 1,892 types of medicinal plants and 11,096 types of medicines (or ways to cure illness). It was translated into Latin by Michal Boym，1612–1659 AD, under the title "Flora sinensis".
While vegetarianism is not common in Christian thought, the concept appears periodically. According to the Bible, in the beginning, men and animals were vegetarian. After the flood, God permitted the eating of meat. Some Christians believe that the Bible explains that, in the future, men and animals will return to vegetarianism.
The practice of eating meat has been defended by Christians on the basis that only human beings have immortal souls and only human beings have been made in God's own image.. Another argument is that in the Apostle Paul's first letter to Timothy, Paul talks about those who forbid others to abstain from meats. Skeptics have seen such doctrines as justifying evil carried out against other living beings through supposed divine sanction, not just with regard to the moral issue regarding the eating of meat but also in the maltreatment of other creatures prior to their death and consumption.
Some Christian leaders, such as the Reverend Andrew Linzey, have supported the view that Jesus was a vegetarian. Some people believe that the Book of Daniel specifically promotes vegetarianism as beneficial. However, common theology argues that in this instance Daniel is rejecting food that is considered to be unholy by his faith (eating food that had been sacrificed to pagan gods), not strictly meat. Specifically, some believe that the New Testament of the Bible says that a person's dietary choice is of small consequence and should not be a point of confrontation.. Therefore, some modern Christians consider vegetarianism as a perfectly acceptable personal choice that has many of the same implications as fasting.
A text not included in the Christian Bible known as the Gospel of the Ebionites, emphasises that Jesus advocated vegetarianism, abolished the Jewish meat sacrifice system, and never ate meat. In contemporary Christianity, the Seventh-day Adventist Church promotes vegetarianism among its followers.
The Word of Wisdom is a dietary law given to adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement (also known as Mormonism) which says that meat and fowl "are to be used sparingly; And ... that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." Not given as advice, this commandment is reiterated in the same section, "And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger."
In the Eastern Orthodox groups, the faithful abstain from meat and dairy products on Wednesdays and Fridays as a discipline. During their version of Lent, many followers avoid eating meat and dairy products altogether while in the Roman Catholic faith, followers abstain from only meat on Fridays, but are permitted to eat fish. Up until the Vatican II Council in the 1960s, Catholics abstained from meat every Friday of the year and many have chosen to hold on to this practice. Members of pre-Vatican II churches, disregard the reform of the Vatican II Council and therefore make abstinence of meat on Fridays throughout the year compulsory.
The earliest Christian monks are said to have had a vegetarian diet also. St. Anthony, the earliest recorded organizer of monastic communities in the desert, lived off of dried fruits and vegetables, and bread.
Islam allows consumption of meat, if the meat is "halal," which is meat slaughtered by the Islamic standards, and disallowed meat is haram, which is non-permitted meat or meat not slaughtered according to Islamic standards. Islam accepts the ritualistic animal slaughter done by Jews, known as shechita (Hebrew). Islam also forbids the consumption of pork. Muslim vegetarians are very rare as the consumption of meat is intertwined with religious sacrificing of animals (namely caprids, bovines and camels) in Eid ul-Adha. Moreover, according to Islamic jurisprudence it is wrong to forbid that which is not forbidden. When travelling to locations where it is difficult to get halal meat, Muslims might eat fish or vegetables but they must be sure that the vegetarian food does not contain wine or other alcoholic taste enhancers. However, meat-eating is not compulsory and one may abstain from it if they do not like the taste or need to abstain for health reasons.
Followers of the Sikh religion are divided in their opinion on whether their religion opposes meat consumption for Sikhs. Although many Sikhs eat meat, some Sikhs abstain from the consumption of meat and eggs.
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 could be meat or 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 because as both meat and vegetarian food contain life, it is unclear how one is more sinful than the other. 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 section of Sikhs called The Namdharis refrain from eating non vegetarian food which includes animal flesh,eggs.But they take dairy products. It should be noted that meat and eggs are never served in the Guru Ka Langar (Free Kitchen) that runs at all Gurudwaras (Sikh Temples). This practice has been adopted in order to promote a mutually acceptable meal to all faiths and creeds (since the Sikh Temple is open to all), and avoid arguments over whether meat should be served or not and also avoid arguments over what types of meat are served (e.g., Halal, Kosher, Pork, Beef etc).
Many who practice a faith that falls under the Neopagan umbrella also practice vegetarianism. Since Neopaganism generally emphasizes the sanctity of Earth and Nature, a vegetarian diet is sometimes adopted out of concern for the environment and/or animal welfare. Conversely, many Neopagans view the consumption of meat as natural and a part of the cycles of life. The only qualms they may have is with the way in which animals are treated prior to being killed and the method in which they are killed.
Many people who choose a vegetarian diet do so as a way of improving their health. The perceived benefits include improved health for nutrition reasons and improved food safety.
The American Dietetic Association, the largest organization of nutrition professionals, states on its website "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, fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals."
As an example, American vegetarians tend to have lower body mass indices, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, some forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, dementias such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other disorders that may be diet-related. The health of a group of 27,000 vegetarians is currently being followed at a UK centre of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), the largest study of the long-term effects of vegetarian diet.
 Food safety
 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. The most recent E. coli outbreak has once again demonstrated this link because the source of this E. coli was traced back to "a large ranch in the Salinas Valley that has a beef cattle operation" about a half-mile from the spinach fields where spinach became contaminated.
There are several variants of E. coli and they can be found in a healthy human gut, but the deadly strain, O157:H7 was virtually unheard of until the 1980s. It is believed that this strain evolved in the digestive system of grain fed cattle on large industrial farms. On these farms, grain is used as cattle feed because it is nutrient-packed and increases efficiency. A side effect of feeding grain to cattle is that it increases the acidity of their stomach — and it is in this acidic gut that the deadly O157:H7 thrives.
In 2003, an article in the Journal of Dairy Science found that between 30 and 80 percent of cattle carry E. coli O157:H7. In that same journal article, a quick fix was pointed out: Cows that are switched from a grain diet to a forage diet saw, within 5 days, a 1,000 fold decrease in the abundance of strain O157. But until changes like this are made, the source of many E. coli outbreaks will continue to be high-yield meat and dairy farms.
More likely, rather than change the way cattle are fed or raised on industrial farms there will instead be pressure to find technological solutions like food irradiation, plans for HACCP, or simply cooking burgers longer. Suggestions like this have led some experts, like Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley, Michael Pollan, to suggest that "All of these solutions treat E. coli O157:H7 as an unavoidable fact of life rather than what it is: a fact of industrial agriculture."
Advocates such as Howard Lyman and groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have promoted vegetarianism in response to cases of E. Coli infection.
E. Coli can be still acquired from any excrement-contaminated food or human commensal bacteria. The recent case 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 branded triple-washed, pre-packaged lettuce were infected with E. Coli. In fact E. coli outbreaks have also involved unpasteurized apple and orange juice, milk, alfalfa sprouts, and even water, though most are from ground meat.
 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.Avian flu in poultry, foot-and-mouth in sheep, PCBs in farmed salmon, generally high dioxin concentrations in animal products, and artificial growth hormones, antibiotics or BSE in cows. According to various organisations, vCJD in humans is strongly linked with exposure to the BSE agent that has been found in beef. However, it must be noted that vegetables and fruits have a risk of being contaminated by pesticide residue because they are consumed directly.
These scares have included
Sometimes patients of alternative medicine are advised to adhere to a vegetarian diet as prescribed by the practitioners of such unconventional medical treatments. These patients are either asked to continue such a diet either for the course of the treatment or for longer durations. Ayurveda and Siddha medicine are examples of medical treatments that prescribe such a vegetarian diet. In such cases, the patient either follows vegetarianism for the defined period or sometimes continues long after the treatment is over.
There is considerable debate over whether humans are physiologically better suited to a herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore diet. The existence of parasites such as Taenia saginata and Taenia solium, which rely on humans as their unique end host and can only be transmitted through eating meat indicates that human beings and their ancestors have consumed meat through important lengths of their evolution.
Others study statistical information, such as comparing life expectancy with regional areas and local diets. Examples include looking within countries themselves. For instance, life expectancy is considerably greater in southern France, where a semi-vegetarian Mediterranean diet is common (fresh fruit, vegetables, olive oil, goat cheese and fish), than northern France, where an omnivorous diet is more common (also including pork, beef, butter, cows cheese and cream). It must be noted that national life expectancy is affected by many factors, which include access to adequate healthcare and medicine. This makes it difficult to conclusively prove any correlation between regional diets and life expectancy.
Some vegetarian beliefs suggest that human beings have evolved to consume vegetable matter rather than meat. The reasons they cite are mainly associated with the differences between predators and plant-eating animals. Predators (such as dogs, cats, or raptors) usually have sharp teeth or claws to tear fresh meat, while plant-eating animals (such as horse and deer) have no sharp teeth or claws to tear meat. Humans occupy a middle ground between the two; they have no claws and mostly blunt teeth (molars) and canine teeth that are not at all suitable for eating meat (carnivores have long, sharp, curved, canine teeth while humans and most herbivores have short dull canines). Additionally plant-eating animals such as cows and horses drink water with their lips, unlike lions, dogs, and cats who drink water with their tongues. Since humans drink water with their lips, some consider this evidence that humans are vegetarians by nature.
The intestines of carnivorous predators are relatively short compared with those of plant-eating animals and human beings. Since meat is more easily digested than plant matter, the elaborate digestive system found in plant-eaters is unnecessary. Herbivores need a much longer intestine to allow sufficient time for the digestion of vegetable fibers. However humans, like most omnivorous and carnivorous mammals, produce the enzyme pepsin in their stomachs, which is mainly of value in digesting animal, not plant, proteins.
The Vegetarian Resource Group and others however, have concluded that humans are naturally omnivores.
Many vegetarians consider the production, subsequent slaughtering, and consumption of meat or animal products as unethical. Reasons for these beliefs are varied and may include a belief in animal rights, an aversion to inflicting pain or harm on other living creatures, or a belief that the unnecessary killing of other animals is inherently wrong. The book "Animal Liberation" by Peter Singer has been very influential on the animal rights movement and specifically ethical vegetarianism and veganism. In developed countries, ethical vegetarianism has become popular particularly after the spread of factory farming, which has reduced the sense of husbandry that used to exist in farming and which has led to animals being treated as commodities. Many believe that the treatment that animals undergo in the production of meat and animal products obliges them to never eat meat or use animal products.
Some vegetarians believe that consciously taking someone else's possessions without consent amounts to stealing. Since prey cannot consent to its life being taken away, according to this philosophy it would be immoral to consciously kill an animal and eat its flesh.
In the West, numerous social justice leaders, such as Cesar Chavez, have adopted a vegan/vegetarian diet in order to communicate an agenda of social harmony and fellowship.
Environmental vegetarianism is the belief that the production of meat and animal products at current and likely future levels, especially through factory farming is environmentally unsustainable. Industrialization has led to intensive farming practices and diets high in animal protein, primarily in developed nations and mainly the United States. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) "Most of the world's population today subsists on vegetarian or near-vegetarian diets for reasons that are economic, philosophical, religious, cultural, or ecological." Thus, the main protest of environmental vegetarians is primarily of intensive farming in developed nations.
According to the United Nations Population Fund "Each U.S. citizen consumes an average of 260 lb. of meat per year, the world's highest rate. That is about 1.5 times the industrial world average, three times the East Asian average, and 40 times the average in Bangladesh."
All modern, intensive farming practices consume large amounts of fossil fuel and water resources and lead to emissions of harmful gases and chemicals. Animal agriculture is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases — responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2. It produces 65% of human-related nitrous oxide (which has 296 times the global warming potential of CO2) and 37% of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2). It also generates 64% of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems . The habitat for wildlife provided by large industrial monoculture farms is very poor, and modern industrial agriculture is a threat to biodiversity compared with farming practices such as organic farming, permaculture, arable, 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% of its agricultural land. Additionally, animals raised for food in the U.S. consume 90% of the soy crop, 80% of the corn crop, and a total of 70% of its grain. In tracking food animal production from the feed trough to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1. The result is that producing animal based food is typically much less efficient than the harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits. This criticism could not be applied to animals that are grazed rather than fed, especially those grazed on land that could not be used for other purposes.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has concluded that the livestock industry, accounting for 30% of the Earth's surface, contributes more to global warming (18%) than does all vehicles combined (13.5%).
 Labor Conditions
Some groups 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 , and argue that the meat industry violates its laborers human rights by delegating difficult and distressing tasks without adequate counselling, training and debriefing.
Similar to environmental vegetarianism is the concept of economic vegetarianism. An economic vegetarian is someone who practises 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 the health care burden while improving public health; declining livestock herds will take pressure off of 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.
Many vegetarians choose to be so in part because they find meat and meat products aesthetically unappetizing. Some cite a hypothetical example, that the carcass of a cow lying in a forest would attract a real carnivore like a wolf or leopard, but would disgust most human beings. However, it must be noted that since early humans were scavengers as much as hunters according to several anthropologists, this may not hold true in a natural setting. The metaphor by Douglas Dunn is that if one gives a young child an apple and a live chicken, the child would instinctively play with the chicken and eat the apple, whereas if a cat were presented with the same choices, its natural impulse would be the opposite. In a similar assertion, Scott Adams, who is also a vegetarian, once wrote humorously that a human presented with a live cow would be more likely to try to moo at it than to attempt to eat its backside.
Moreover, research on the psychology of meat consumption suggests that consumers of meat may need to use defense mechanisms such as psychological numbing to distance themselves from the notion that they are eating animals.
Some people are vegetarian because they were raised in a vegetarian household. Others may have become vegetarians because of a vegetarian partner, family member, or friend. Some people live in a predominantly vegetarian society (such as India), and so adopt this practice to be social, to avoid ostracism, or because of the difficulty of buying meat in such a society .
 Health effects
It is clear that many people live healthy lives as vegetarians (vegetarian Olympic athletes are often cited) and though it is commonly thought that vegetarians have higher rates of deficiencies in iron or calcium, studies endorsed by the ADA found that this was not true. These nutrients can be found in green leafy vegetables, grains, nuts, and fortified juices or soymilk.
A 1999 metastudy compared six 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 which was then followed by regular meat eaters (1.0). In "Mortality in British vegetarians", 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."
Among these meta studies, the Adventist Health Study is an ongoing study of life expectancy in Seventh-day Adventists following different behaviour patterns. 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. However, this study of Adventist health study is again incorporated into meta studies titled "Does low meat consumption increase life expectancy in humans?" published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which again made the similar conclusion that occasional/low meat eating and other life style choices significantly increase the life expectancy. 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."
 Health concerns
There is some speculation that diets high in soy, due to high isoflavone content, can have a feminizing effect on humans due to the similarity between isoflavones and the estrogen hormone. Proponents of this theory claim that diets high in isoflavones promote earlier onset of female puberty and delayed male puberty.
 Nutritional deficiencies
Vegetable sources, other than soy, hempseed, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa, lack one or more essential amino acids. Vegetarians, taken broadly, do not suffer malnutrition, and so must receive at least most of the protein and amino acids important to humans from eating a variety of incomplete complementary plant proteins. If ideal nutrition is possible, intake of such foods must be larger since the protein percentages in these foods are comparatively lower than in a similar serving of meat. Attaining sufficient protein intake is rarely a problem in developed countries, and vegetarianism advocates have alleged that possible lower protein intake of vegetarians may cause some of the health benefits below.
A vegetarian diet does not include fish — a major source of Omega 3; though some plant-based sources of it exist such as soy, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, canola oil and, especially, hempseed and flaxseed.
According to one ABC News report, the benefits of adding plant-based Omega-3 acids to products are still being debated, and some preliminary evidence suggests that high doses of plant-based Omega 3 might increase the risk of prostate cancer and macular degeneration.
Some suggest that vegetarians have higher rates of deficiencies in those nutrients that are found in high concentrations in meat. However, studies endorsed by the ADA found that this was not the case for either iron or calcium. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D from vegetarian sources other than dairy products and eggs are not readily absorbed by the body and a vegan diet usually needs supplements. Nonetheless, these nutrients are now commonly supplemented in milks and cereals in the western world, and are not necessarily a problem in a vegetarian diet. Numerous studies demonstrate that vegetarians who are not taking B12 supplements can improve their health by improving their B12 status.
One observational study in British Medical Journal found that high childhood IQ was associated with vegetarianism in later life. According to the study, "Higher IQ at age 10 years was associated with an increased likelihood of being vegetarian at age 30 [...] IQ remained a statistically significant predictor of being vegetarian as an adult after adjustment for social class (both in childhood and currently), academic or vocational qualifications, and sex".  
 Country-specific information
Labeling used in India to distinguish vegetarian products from non-vegetarian ones.
Around the world vegetarianism is viewed in different lights. In some areas there is cultural and even legal support, but in others the diet is poorly understood or even frowned upon. In many countries food labeling is in place that makes it easier for vegetarians to identify foods compatible with their diets.
In India, not only is there food labeling, but many restaurants are marketed and signed as being either "Vegetarian" or "Non-Vegetarian". People who are vegetarian in India are usually Lacto vegetarians, and therefore to cater for this market, the majority of restaurants in India that say they are vegetarian do not serve food made from eggs, while most Western vegetarian restaurants do.
 Vegetarian Textiles
Some vegetarians will choose not to wear leather. Because leather footwear and other accessories are expected in some workplaces, there are many specialist suppliers that sell belts, shoes, safety boots, jackets and briefcases that share the appearance of leather but are in fact made of synthetic materials generically known as Vegan leather. High-end fashion designer Stella McCartney is famed for her refusal to use leather, fur or other animal products in her range of clothes and accessories and is thus popular with wealthier vegetarians.
Many vegetarians refuse to wear silk because of the large number of silkworms that are killed in the harvest. Alternatives have begun appearing lately, such as silk that is harvested from abandoned cocoons, called "Peace Silk", and plant based sources, such as finely woven bamboo cloth.
Although shearing sheep for wool does not usually involve the death of the animal, many vegetarians, especially vegans, do not wear or use wool. A common alternative for cold-weather wear is polar fleece, which has the added benefit of being a recycled product.
 See also
 External links
 Further reading
has a collection of quotations related to:
- ^ NUTRITION AND YOUR HEALTH: DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS Fourth Edition, 1995; U.S. Department of Agriculture 
- ^ Vernon R Young and Peter L Pellett (1994). "Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 59(supp): 1203S-1212S.
- ^ Vegetarianism in India http://www.indianchild.com/vegetarianism_in_india.htm
- ^ Jainism: A Religion of Asceticism http://www.jainworld.com/jainbooks/asceticism/ch18.asp
- ^ Porphyry. ca245-ca305. De abstinentia ab esu animalium. II. Taylor, Thomas (trans.). 1823. On Abstinence from Animal Food, Book II p.65 http://www.animalrightshistory.org/porphyry/animal-food-bk2.htm
- ^ Spencer, Colin. (2002). Vegetarianism: A History. Four Walls Eight Windows; 2nd edition. p. 38. ISBN 1-56858-238-2
- ^ Jon Wynne-Tyson,The extended circle, ISBN 0-7474-0633-2.
- ^ Ovid. Metamorphoses. XV
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- ^ Indian consumer patterns
- ^ Agri reform in India
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- ^ Vegetarian Resource Group, 2000, How Many Vegetarians Are There? in Vegetarian Journal, May/June 2000
- ^ Vegetarian Resource Group, 2003, How Many Vegetarians Are There?
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- ^ Isaiah 11:7-9, "The cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, ... they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord."
- ^ Genesis 1:27, "And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
- ^ New Testament, 1 Timothy 4
- ^ Old Testament, Daniel 1:8-16
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News story based on this article: ScienceDaily, April 25, 2005 "Mediterranean Diet Leads To Longer Life" http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050425111008.htm
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- ^ http://www.llu.edu/news/today/july2601/llu.html
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- ^ sexual development damage due to soya
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