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.
Nutrient Deficiencies
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.