Definition and Description
Vegetarianism is the voluntary abstinence from eating meat. It is the practice of a diet that excludes all animal flesh, including poultry, fish or crustacea. Vegetarians refrain from eating meat for various reasons, including religious, health, and ethical ones. Vegetarians who eat egg and dairy products are categorized as lacto-ovo vegetarians. Strict vegans do not consume any kind of animal derived product.
The term vegetarian was coined in 1847 by the founders of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain, but vegetarianism has been around as long as people have created diets. Some of the world's oldest cultures advocate a vegetarian diet for health and religious purposes. In India, millions of Hindus are vegetarians because of their religious beliefs. One of the ancient mythological works of Hinduism, the Mahabharata, states that, "Those who desire to possess good memory, beauty, long life with perfect health, and physical, moral and spiritual strength, should abstain from animal foods" (Dupler, 2006). The yoga system of living and health is vegetarian, because its dietary practices are based on the belief that healthy food contains prana. Prana is the universal life energy, which yoga experts believe is abundant in fresh fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables, but absent in meat because meat has been killed. Yogis also believe that spiritual health is influenced by the practice of ahimsa, or not harming living beings. The principle of ahimsa (non-violence) appears in the Upanishads (Vedic literature) from c. 600-300 B.C. Taking of animal life or human life under any circumstances is sinful and results in rebirth as a lower organism (Dupler, 2006). It became a fundamental element of Jainism, another religion of India. Some Buddhists in Japan and China are also vegetarian because of spiritual beliefs. In the Christian tradition, the Trappist Monks of the Catholic Church are vegetarian, and some vegetarians argue that there is evidence that Jesus and his early followers were vegetarian. Other traditional cultures, such as those in the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions, have evolved diets that frequently consist of vegetarian foods. The Mediterranean diet, which a Harvard study declared to be one of the world's healthiest, is primarily, although not strictly, vegetarian.
Vegetarianism in America received a lot of interest during the last half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, during periods of experimentation with diets and health practices. Vegetarianism has also been a religious practice for some Americans, including the Seventh-day Adventists, whose lacto-ovo vegetarian diets have been studied for their health benefits. Vegetarianism has been steadily gaining acceptance as an alternative to the meat-and-potatoes bias of the traditional American diet. In 1997, Vegetarian Resource Group performed a Roper poll that showed that 13 million Americans, or 5% of the population, identified themselves as vegetarians. (Dupler, 2004)
Several factors contribute to the interest in vegetarianism in America. Outbreaks of food poisoning from meat products, as well as increased concern over the additives in meat such as hormones and antibiotics, have led some people and professionals to question meat's safety. There is also an increased awareness of the questionable treatment of farm animals in factory farming. But the growing health consciousness of Americans is probably the major reason for the surge in interest in vegetarianism. Nutrition experts have built up convincing evidence that there are major problems with the conventional American diet, which is centered around meat products that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat and low in fiber. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, which cause 68% of all deaths in America, are all believed to be influenced by this diet. Nutritionists have repeatedly shown in studies that a healthy diet consists of plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, and foods that are high in fiber and low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Vegetarianism, a diet that fulfills all these criteria, has become part of many healthy lifestyles. In alternative medicine, vegetarianism is a cornerstone dietary therapy, used in Ayurvedic medicine, detoxification treatments, macrobiotics, the Ornish diet for heart disease, and in therapies for many chronic conditions.
The list of famous vegetarians forms an illustrious group. The ancient Greek philosophers, including Socrates, Plato, and Pythagoras, advocated vegetarianism. In modern times, the word to describe someone who likes to feast on food and wine is "epicure," but it is little known that Epicurus, the ancient philosopher, was himself a diligent vegetarian. Other famous vegetarians include Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, Leo Tolstoy, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Thoreau. This century's celebrated vegetarians include Gandhi, the physician Albert Schweitzer, writer George Bernard Shaw, musician Paul McCartney, and champion triathlete Dave Scott. Albert Einstein, although not a strict vegetarian himself, stated that a vegetarian diet would be an evolutionary step for the human race. (Duper, 2004)
Vegetarianism is recommended as a dietary therapy for a variety of conditions, including heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. Vegetarianism is a major dietary therapy in the alternative treatment of cancer. Other conditions treated with a dietary therapy of vegetarianism include obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, allergies, asthma, environmental illness, hypertension, gout, gallstones, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, ulcers, colitis, premenstrual syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Vegetarians often report higher energy levels, better digestion, and mental clarity. Vegetarianism is an economical and easily implemented preventative practice as well (Dupler, 2006).
Another reason why we suggest you to become a vegetarian is to stop the cruelty towards animals. Americans consume a million animals an hour. Every second, 300 living beings are slaughtered for food (DAA, 2005)! There are virtually no local, state or federal laws protecting animals, either throughout their lives or during slaughter. Factory farm managers and employees can treat animals in any way they wish in order to maximize profits, with no regard whatsoever for the suffering involved. The one law available, the Downed Animal Protection Act, is seldom enforced (DAA, 2005).
Doesn't this bother you? The main purpose of creating this site is to bring to focus the aspect of vegetarianism. How we can stop the cruelty towards animals. If we all unite to stop this menace it is possible to save millions of animals. However, we do not tell everyone to become vegetarian at once. All we ask of you is to give it a thought. Think of all the animals that are killed just before you take a bite into the meat. If you ask WHY VEGETARIAN, this website should answer your question.
Briefly stated: We care about preventing the suffering of innocent creatures. We care about preventing world hunger. We care about reducing energy consumption. We care about the air we breathe, and the water that flows in rivers, environment in general. And we care about our own health. We believe that the most significant thing, as individuals, we can do for any one of these things we care about is to consume only vegetarian food. ( If you are wondering HOW? visit: http://www.karinya.com/veggies.html )
Visit this link <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZl60_rBoa0&feature=related> to see a video which gives you 20 reasons to become a vegetarian. Please take time to see our entire website to fully understand vegetarianism and its aspects.
Health Issues | Animal Rights | Animal Killing | Religious Issues | Veggie Recipes | Environment | References
Created By : Victoria Lam, Leigh Tobiasen, Tanvi Nayar and Saket
Project assignment for Freshman English 102 course, by Drexel University students (Names Above)