What is vegetarianism?
In essence, vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice which means consuming a diet which does not include red meat, seafood and other forms of flesh. It does not mean eating only vegetables because other foodstuffs, like fruit and nuts, constitute a big part of a vegetarian diet, too. In fact, vegetarianism should also be seen as distinct from veganism because most vegetarians consume eggs and other products derived from animals, whereas vegans do not. Vegetarian lifestyles are known to have been around for almost three millennia in certain parts of the world. However, vegetarianism only started to be popularised in the west from towards the end of the nineteenth century.
Can vegetarianism solve world hunger?
Some people believe that vegetarian diets will be able to help world hunger. This is because land that is devoted to crop production tends to be more efficient and produce more than the equivalent space that is dedicated to animal husbandry. That said, the world already produces more than enough food to sustain the human population. Therefore, world hunger can only be explained adequately by also factoring in food distribution problems and poverty. Some people now think that more vegetarians around the world will help in the fight against climate change since less deforestation will occur and fewer animals will be grown, something which leads to methane escaping into the atmosphere.
Is vegetarianism unhealthy?
In the main, vegetarianism is a perfectly healthy lifestyle choice. Many human beings have lived long lives without any significant health problems even though they have had a restricted diet. That said, some people suffer from certain deficiencies in their diet which can lead to long-term problems. Careful monitoring of the intake of vitamins and protein will help to overcome this. A typical dietary supplement taken by some vegetarians is vitamin B12 to help prevent anaemia.
Which religions promote vegetarianism?
Although Buddhism is often associated with vegetarianism, many Buddhists continue to eat some meat. The Buddha only taught that certain types of meat should not be eaten. However, many Buddhist traditions have embraced vegetarian diets, notably Mahayana Buddhism, which teaches that all forms of meat-eating should be avoided. In Jainism, there are similar lessons that are taught, which mean that a vegetarian diet should be followed. Some Hindus also follow a vegetarian lifestyle, but this tends to be due to local customs rather than religious strictures.
Are vegetarians allowed to eat fish?
Under most people's interpretation of vegetarianism, both crustaceans and fish are considered to be meat, and this means that they should not be consumed. Regardless of this, some people choose to call themselves vegetarians even though they eat fish and seafood. This is a cultural phenomenon that tends to be seen in the west only. In the main, people who have a vegetarian diet which includes fish are referred to as pescetarians.