The dictionary is quite clear in stating that a vegetarian is “one who eats a diet consisting wholly of vegetables and fruit, and sometimes eggs or dairy products.” However, there seems to be some confusion among the general population as well as in the scientific community as to whether this definition is sufficient. Support for this confusion can be found in the number of professed vegetarians who eat meat products in varied frequency. In many ways, defining a vegetarian could simply be: “one who abstains from meat.”

However, a closer look at the various social, religious, philosophical, historical, and political influences that have affected the label and its usage over time present the reality that the term has different meanings to different people.The word “vegetarian” was first used in 1847 by the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom.Pythagoras (considered the Father of Vegetarianism), Zoroaster, Daniel, and Buddha advocating and following a vegetarian diet. Throughout history, several religious groups have followed vegetarian diets with varying degrees of adherence. However, it wasn’t until the last part of the 20th century that the practice began to secure mainstream acceptance for positive health associations.a higher percentage of the vegetarian population is more than 40 years of age, a larger percentage is composed of young families (those with children under 18 years of age).

People choose vegetarian diets for varied reasons. These include, but are not limited to, health concerns, religious or ethical beliefs, metaphysical, ecological, and even political reasons.Persons who choose the diet for health reasons typically have more flexibility in their use of animal foods and products. On the contrary, those who choose to be vegetarians for ethical or ideological reasons may be inclined toward a complete avoidance of meat and, in some cases, all animal products.The one common characteristic of these diets is that they are all plant based. More specifically,the diets described below are based on grains, vegetables, fruits,legumes, seeds, and nuts. And, depending on the particular diet, foods of animal origin are partially or totally excluded.


This term encompasses all meatless diets. It is usually qualified or further categorized by one of the following: -Lacto vegetarian: In addition to plant foods, milk and dairy are included. -Ovo vegetarian: Eggs are included. -Ovo-lacto or lacto-ovo vegetarian: Both eggs and dairy ar e included. Approximately 90-95% of vegetarians in North America include dairy and/or eggs in their diets. Strict vegetarian/vegan: A small but growing number of people follow this diet that excludes animal flesh (meat, poultry/fowl, fish, and seafood) and animal products (eggs and dairy). Vegans may also exclude honey from the diet and will often not wear clothing made from animal products.Semi-vegetarian: Occasional meat eaters who predominately practice a vegetarian diet. Fruitarian: A diet consisting of foods that do not kill the plant of origin. In practical terms, this type of diet gets reduced to fresh fruits,dried fruits such as dates and raisins, nuts and seeds, and selected vegetables. Macrobiotic: This type of diet is typically classified as vegetarian, but often includes fish. The diet stems from a 10-step approach to eating that, at the highest level, is almost exclusively brown rice. Today, most macrobiotic diets still emphasize brown rice and other whole grains, but also include sea vegetables, legumes, and root vegetables