Even though the world is rapidly waking up to the benefits of vegetarianism, a better understanding of vegetarian concepts is required in many people. Sustaining on a diet that dispenses with animal slaughter by-products is known as vegetarianism. We come across many people who choose to turn vegetarian over the course of their lives or even those who have done the opposite. The reasons for the same are spread across social, moral, economic and even health aspects.
Origins and History of Vegetarian Concepts
The concept of a diet that excludes flesh and meat can be attributed to India during the 1st millennium BC. This concept of vegetarianism was also advocated in the eastern Mediterranean as part of the teachings of Pythagoras (c. 530), a philosopher from Samos. Thereafter, vegetarianism became an inherent part of numerous systems of belief and even cultures and religions. Some of the prominent faiths that believe in this concept include Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism. 1847 saw the birth of the First Vegetarian Society in England that was later adopted by many countries and the society had 889 members by 1853. The idea of vegetarianism further took root when the International Vegetarian Union was formed in 1908.
Types and Ideals behind Vegetarian Concepts
Vegetarian concepts mention many different types of vegetarianism that often cause a lot of confusion among people regarding the exact definition and implication of consuming a vegetarian diet. The differences between these various types are very minute as they revolve around the inclusion of poultry and dairy products. The main types of vegetarianism are:
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarianism: People who avoid meat, poultry or fish but include other animal derived products like dairy, honey and egg in their diet are known as lacto-ovo vegetarians. These vegetarians believe in eating animal products that the animals give out of their own will.
Lacto Vegetarianism: People who avoid intake of any meat, poultry or fish but consume honey and dairy with their diet are called as lacto-vegetarians. These vegetarians avoid even eggs as they believe that consuming eggs is similar to murdering an unborn new one.
Ovo vegetarianism: People who do not eat any meat, poultry or fish but are open to consuming honey and eggs are termed as ovo-vegetarians. This type of vegetarians avoids intake of dairy and its related products that are obtained from the milk of an animal.
Veganism: Also called as pure vegetarianism or strict vegetarianism- veganism is clearly the most stringent form of vegetarianism when it comes to the use of animal or animal-derived products for actual consumption. It prohibits any kind of poultry or meat, apart from discarding consumption of dairy, eggs and various animal obtained products like honey. Not restricted to food, veganism also prohibits the use of animals for any human purpose that includes clothing.
Fruitarianism: This is a vegetarian concept that requires compassion towards not only animals but also plants. Fruitarians are those for whom a diet comprises of only fruits, seeds, nuts and any other material obtained from a plant without resulting in any sort of harm to it.
Vegetarianism’s ideals are oriented towards the wellbeing of humans as well as those living beings around them. It is accepted and practiced by many but each has their own way of doing so. The ideals of vegetarianism are based on:
Vegetarianism for Improved Health: Several dieticians and doctors are starting to recommend vegetarianism for its numerous health benefits. Non-vegetarian food is hard to digest for humans and moreover doesn’t include fiber that is necessary for healthy bowels. It also contains excessive levels of fats and cholesterol that lead to a host of health problems. Comparatively, vegetarianism offers lower heart disease and cancer risks, lower levels of cholesterol and a higher life expectancy, which are surely attractive enough incentives to turn vegetarian.
Vegetarianism to Save Animals: Slaughtering of animals for consumption of their derivatives is considered inhuman in vegetarianism. This is more apparent when other sources of nutrition are abundantly available. Many animals are bred and raised for the sole purpose of serving the needs of non-vegetarians, which is against their right to life. This has led to the rise of many animal rights and anti-non vegetarian organizations that are continuously promoting the rights of animals along with benefits of a vegetarian diet.
Vegetarianism for Religious Beliefs: Many people practice vegetarianism since it’s ordained by the religion or faith they follow. Some of the religions prohibit their followers from consuming non-vegetarian food and instead encourage intake of vegetarian food. An example of such a religion is Jainism, which advocates a vegetarian diet and also prohibits killing of animals for human consumption.
As is documented above, the benefits of vegetarianism are enormous. A vegetarian diet is natural and has nutrients that are most essential for a healthy life. Such a diet coupled with a better understanding of various vegetarian concepts will go a long way in helping you live a healthy and long life.