Vegetarian diet is becoming increasingly popular and is considered a much healthier way of eating, while excessive meat consumption (especially red) is extremely harmful to the heart, blood vessels and overall health. In our review, we have gathered facts about vegetarianism to understand whether this is really so.
1. Ancient Indian and Greek philosophy
Vegetarianism is based on the ancient Indian and Greek philosophies. In India, vegetarianism has its roots in the philosophy of ahimsa or non-violence towards animals and other living beings. For the Greeks, vegetarianism was a medical ritual.
2. Pythagorean diet
One of the first and most famous vegetarians was a Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, who lived in the sixth century BC. The term “Pythagorean diet” has been widely used for a plant-based diet, until the term “vegetarianism” was coined in the nineteenth century.
3. Strict vegetarianism
For you to understand what vegetarianism is, you should know that there are several types of vegetarians. Those who adhere to a very strict diet are called vegans. Vegans avoid not only meat but all products that are in any way related to animals.
4. Fighting the “by-products”
The word “vegan” is derived from “vegetarian”. It was first used in 1944, when Elsie Shrigley and Donald Watson said that a vegetarian diet included too many by-products of animal origin and could not be considered completely vegetarian.
5. Ethical motives
People become vegetarians for a number of reasons, including health, political, ecological, cultural, aesthetic and even economic reasons. However, the most common reason is based on the ethical objections to cruel animal treatment.
6. Benefits of vegetarianism
Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that a vegetarian diet increases the body’s metabolism, helping the body burn fat and calories by sixteen percent faster than those who eat meat. Nevertheless a lot of studies show the dangers of vegetarianism.
7. Leonardo was an avid vegan
The first well-known personality of the Renaissance who practiced vegetarianism was Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, he was an avid vegan, who openly argued with strict local religious authorities, arguing that people do not have a God-given right to eat animals.
9. Vegetarianism in India
India is the country with the largest percentage of vegetarian population.
8. 3.2% of the US population
According to a study conducted in 2008, the number of vegetarians in the United States was 7.3 million adults, or 3.2 percent of the population. Out of these, only 0.5 percent, or one million people, were vegans.
10. Vitamin B12
Unfortunately for vegetarians, vitamin B12 is one of the few nutrients received only from animal sources. Studies have shown that a B12 deficiency can lead to bone weakening.
Benjamin Franklin was one of the first and most famous American vegetarians, and it was he who brought the first tofu to the US in 1770. However, to the pity of the vegetarian community, the president later became a meat-eater again.
12. Ovo and lacto
There are a lot of subcategories of vegetarians. For example, ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but do not consume any dairy products. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products, but do not eat eggs. An ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products.
13. Protein in abundance
Contrary to the popular belief, many studies have shown that vegetarians get only slightly less protein than those who eat meat. These same studies suggest that a vegetarian diet provides enough protein if it includes many vegetable sources.
14. Bad company
Those who like burgers and bacon with eggs, have a good reason to reject vegetarianism. Adolf Hitler is said to have been one of the most avid vegetarians in history.
15. Vegetarianism in the army
In fact, Hitler firmly believed that vegetarianism may be the key to Germany’s military success. He claimed that Caesar’s soldiers fully lived on vegetables, and the Vikings could not make long expeditions, if they depended on a meat diet.
16. Vegetarianism and IQ
British researchers found that on children’s IQ shows the likelihood that they will become vegetarians. The higher the IQ, the greater the likelihood that the child will become a vegetarian.
It turns out there is even a term “fruitarian”. These are the people who eat only fruits, nuts, seeds, and other plant derivatives that can be harvested without killing the plant itself.
18. Meatless city
In 2012, the City Council of Los Angeles has unanimously approved a resolution, in which all Mondays in the City of Angels were announced meatless. This is part of an international campaign to reduce meat consumption for better health and environmental protection.
19. Christian faith and vegetarianism
To eat or not to eat meat – this question has been discussed throughout the history of the Christian faith. Many scholars argue that a vegetarian diet is the most compatible with Christian values such as mercy and compassion. Jesus is believed to have been a pescetarian.
Pescetarians are vegetarians who eat fish, or to be more precise, those who eat almost everything except meat. The term first appeared in 1993.
21. History of vegetarianism
The French philosopher, Voltaire, is known as a major historical figure in matters of vegetarianism (though today it is not known whether he was a vegetarian). He used the ancient Hindu treatise to challenge the Bible allegations of human dominance and argued that the treatment of animals by Indians is a way to shame the vicious practice of the European imperialists.
22. Vegans and honey
There has been a long debate among vegans whether honey is suitable for vegetarian diets. American Vegan Society does not consider it appropriate as honey comes from animals (to be precise, from insects), but some vegan organizations see nothing wrong in eating honey.
23. The China Study
The China Study is a book that was based on a 21-year study, which compared mortality rates of meat eaters and vegetarians. According to the book, the citizens of the countries, in which more meat is eaten, had higher death rates from various diseases, and people in countries with vegetable diets were healthier.
24. Meat-eaters in the eyes of vegetarian women
A British study showed that women often perceive male vegetarians as weak and less courageous than those who eat meat (it concerns even vegetarian women). Dr. Steven Heine from the University of British Columbia, in his interview for Appetite Journal, told that meat and men have always been “arm-in-arm.”
25. Vegetarianism and environmental protection
There is no doubt that vegetarianism is a way to be kinder to the environment compared to any other diet. To get an idea of the negative effects on the environment, consider this example: we need 100 liters of water to grow a pound of wheat, while, to produce a pound of meat, we need more than 10,000 liters of water.