What does it mean to be a vegetarian?

What does it mean to be a vegetarian and what do you eat?

In our society we have different types of ways of eating depending on the amount of food that we introduce into our diet. One of the ways that is becoming more widespread is vegetarianism. It is often easily confused with being vegan. Many people still do not know well what does it mean to be a vegetarian really.

Therefore, we are going to dedicate this article to tell you what it means to be a vegetarian, what are the differences between vegetarian and vegan and much more.

What does it mean to be a vegetarian?

vegetarian diet myth

Vegetarianism is a way of eating that avoids all kinds of meat, fish and animal products, depending on how strict it is. So, vegetarianism it can oscillate between milder forms, total vegetarianism or complete veganism. Often this also implies a philosophy of life that rejects the exploitation of animals and the abuse of other species.

Therefore, vegetarians are generally opposed to consuming non-food products that come from abuse, such as cosmetics, leather, fur, and other consumer products that have been tested on animals. This too it can be accompanied by an ecological commitment and/or an anti-capitalist attitude.

However, a vegetarian diet usually accepts flour, sugar, and other processed or colored products, which distinguishes it from other eating patterns such as macrobiotic or natural foods.

Origins of vegetarianism

Vegetarianism is a very old dietary trend in human history. Ancient religious practices such as Brahmanism or Hinduism consider it their dharma or philosophy of life.

It is also said that the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras imposed it on his followers, which is why the vegetarian diet was formerly known as the "Pythagorean diet." However, the first mention of vegetarianism in the Western world was in England in 1847 with the rise of the Manchester Vegetarian Society, the first vegetarian society in history.

types of vegetarianism


Depending on how strict your diet is or what foods from the animal world you accept, we can talk about several types of vegetarian food:

  • Vegetarian apiovolacto. He does not eat meat or fish, but he does eat eggs, dairy products and honey.
  • Ovolactovegetarian. He does not eat meat or fish, but he does eat eggs and dairy products.
  • Lactovegetarian. He does not eat any type of meat or fish, but he does eat dairy products and honey.
  • ovovegetarian. He does not eat any type of meat or fish, but he does eat eggs and honey.
  • Apivegearianism. He does not eat any type of meat or fish, dairy or eggs, but he does eat honey.
  • Pescetarianism. He does not eat meat except fish and shellfish, eggs, dairy products and honey.
  • semi-vegetarian. Try to eat as little meat as possible.
  • Vegan Do not consume animal products of any kind

Advantages and disadvantages of being a vegetarian

The benefits of a vegetarian diet include reduced body fat, lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, and healthier blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and lower risk of heart disease. Provided, of course, that other important conditions are avoided, such as exercising, consuming the missing nutrients as supplements, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco.

On the other hand, eliminating meat from your diet has the negative consequence of eliminating sources of vitamin B12. This vitamin, which cannot be synthesized in the human body, is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and is found at very low levels in the plant world.

Eggs and dairy are not viable alternatives, so these nutrients, along with omega-3s, vitamin D, and calcium, they often need to be taken in supplement form.

A vegetarian diet does not prevent osteoporosis, nor does it prevent various types of cancer, such as breast, colon, or prostate. In fact, in this sense, a semi-vegetarian diet that allows flexibility but limits the consumption of animal meat (fish, chicken) is usually much healthier than a vegan diet.

What do vegetarians eat?

what does it mean to be a vegetarian

Forbidden foods are replaced with things like fruits, grains, and nuts. Vegetarians follow a meatless diet: no beef, no pork, no chicken.

As we saw earlier, depending on its orientation, they may also avoid eggs, shellfish, and dairy products (milk, butter, etc.). These products are replaced in a vegetarian diet by vegetables, legumes, fruits, cereals, nuts, tubers and various plant foods.

Motivation for vegetarianism

There are three possible motivations for adopting a vegetarian diet:

  • Health. The health risks of red meat, especially beef and pork, are no secret to anyone. They are very high in fat and have been linked to rates of cancer and diabetes. A vegetarian diet avoids these risks.
  • Ecology. In many cases, extensive livestock farming is an important source of contamination: not only because it represents a large amount of waste, but also because cattle are treated with antibiotics, additives, hormones and other synthetic products that in the long run harm the species, consumers and the environment.
  • Ethic. Given the horrific treatment many farmed animals receive at factory farms and slaughterhouses, many people prefer to passively oppose the system and not eat its products, primarily red meat and chicken.
  • Religion. Some religions prescribe vegetarianism as a precept for their followers, such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, or Seventh-day Adventism.

Differences between vegetarian and vegan

A vegetarian is a person who decides Do not eat animal meat, including beef, chicken, pork, fish, and shellfish. However, you do incorporate animal foods not directly associated with slaughtering the animal, such as dairy products (milk, cheese, butter) and eggs into your diet.

A vegan, on the other hand, takes a stricter approach and refrains from consuming any animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy, honey, and in some cases even gelatin and other animal-derived additives found in many processed foods.

In addition to diet, veganism extends beyond food. Vegans also avoid using animal products in other areas of their daily lives, such as clothing (leather, wool, silk), animal-tested cosmetics, and any products that have been tested on animals.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about what it means to be a vegetarian and about the products you consume.

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