Vegetarianism is a popular dietary practice, philosophy and way of living that excludes all animal flesh and organ meats (such as liver, brain, and thymus), fish (including shellfish and other creatures of the sea), poultry and fowl. There are several variants of the diet, but the most common is lacto-ovo vegetarianism, which includes dairy and eggs.
Vegetarianism has its historical roots in antiquity, dating as far back in Ancient India and Greece as 6 century BC. Vegetarianism has long been the cornerstone of Hinduism with the concept of ahimsa or “non-violence” at its center. Vegetarianism was also an accepted practice amongst the ancient Greek philosophers. It is widely believed that Pythagoras demanded that all his potential students adopt a vegetarian diet before beginning their lesson to ensure a clean mind and body.
Vegetarianism became popular here in the United States in the early 1960’s as part of the overall counter-culture movement which went hand-in-hand with peaceful living, non-violence and concern for the environment. Today it is estimated that somewhere between 1 and 3 percent of the US population follows a vegetarian diet.
After much vigorous debate over the years, the American Dietetic Association has now concluded that a balanced, properly-planned and conscientiously executed vegetarian diet will satisfy the nutritional needs for all stages of life, from birth to old age. Many well-documented and reputable medical studies have shown that adopting a vegetarian diet can significantly lower risks of cancer, heart, bowel, and liver disease, osteoporosis and other fatal diseases. All of life’s necessary nutrients: amino acids, protein, vitamins, minerals, bioflavonoids and micronutrients can be found in abundance in vegetables, grains, nuts, soymilk, eggs and dairy.
“My opinion is well known. I do not regard flesh food as necessary for us at any stage and under any climate in which it is possible for humane beings ordinarily to live. I hold flesh food to be unsuited to our species.