A vegetarian eating plan, also known as plant-based eating, is based on a diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, with occasional use of dairy and egg products. This style of eating has existed since the beginning of recorded history. As early as 600 B.C.E., a vegetarian movement was founded in ancient Rome. Vegetarian eating became popular in England and the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. For many individuals, their whole lifestyle is defined by their vegetarian eating. In 1998, 7 percent of American adults considered themselves to be vegetarians.
Types of Vegetarians
There are several vegetarian eating styles. Most vegetarians consider themselves lacto-ovo vegetarians, meaning they generally eat dairy and egg products, but do not include meat, poultry, or fish in their diet. Lacto vegetarians eliminate all animal foods except dairy products. Total vegetarians, or vegans (pronounced VEE-guns), eliminate all animal products. Individuals who occasionally eat meat, poultry, or fish consider themselves semi-vegetarian.
Most individuals who choose a vegetarian eating style want to be healthier and lower their risk for disease. Others are concerned about the environment and the cost of raising animals for food. Some do not agree with the inhumane treatment and killing of animals for food. There are also a number of individuals who choose vegetarian eating for religious purposes.
Cheryl Flynt, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York,