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What is Vegetarianism?
Vegetarianism is the dietary philosophy and practice of abstaining from the consumption of animal flesh, including beef, pork, fish, and seafood. Vegetarians belong to one of five groups:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians combine dairy products and eggs with a diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains.
Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products, but not eggs.
Ovo-vegetarians consumes eggs, but excludes dairy products.
Vegans exclude both dairy products and eggs, consuming a varied diet derived entirely from the plant kingdom. The vegan diet is founded on a humane philosophy of life desiring to minimize the exploitation and suffering of non-human animals. Thus, vegans avoid not only all foods of animal origin, but also products derived from animals, such as leather, wools, furs, silk, ivory, down, pearl, honey, and certain cosmetic and househol items that contain animal ingredients or that are tested on animals.
Fruitarians extend the philosophy of non-exploitation to plants as well as animals. The fruitarian diets consists of just fruits, nuts, grains, that is, those parts of the plant that are cast off or dropped from the plant, and that do not involve the destruction of the plant itself.
(Dyer, Vegetarianism: An Annotated Bibliography)
Benefits of Vegetarianism?
According to a position paper in a 1997 journal of the American Dietetic Assocation entitled Vegetarian Diets, vegetarians have lower rates of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and non-insulin-dependent diabetes. A study of nearly 2,000 vegetarians and part-time vegetarians conducted by German cancer researchers found eating little or no meat cut death rates from heart and circulatory disease in half and deaths from cancer by 25 to 50 percent. Vegetarians are also less likely to have gallstones, kidney stones and constipation and they weigh less on average.
Although there is much evidence to support vegetarianism as a healthy alternative diet, there are a number of nutrient deficiencies associated with the vegetarian diet. The most common of these deficiencies are protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and iron. The purpose of this web resource is to further explore these deficiencies in a concise and informative manner. However, please remember that the information provided here is general nutritional information and ultimately you should consult your physician or dietician for matters pertaining to nutrition and health.
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