The term "vegetarian" describes a diet that excludes some or all foods of animal origin. In the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2% of both adults and children reported being vegetarian.
Reasons that have previously been given for becoming vegetarian include, ethical and ecological reasons (including animal welfare); health concerns; sensory and taste preference; philosophical reasons (religion); cost; family influences; or as a reaction to food scares, such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), E.coli, salmonella or the use of antibiotics or growth factors in meat production.
There is a wide variation in vegetarian dietary practices, these include:
||Occasionally eats meat/poultry/fish.|
||Excludes meat and poultry, but includes fish (and possibly seafood).|
May include dairy and eggs.
||Excludes all flesh foods, includes dairy and eggs.|
||Excludes all flesh foods and dairy, includes eggs.|
||Excludes all flesh foods and eggs, includes dairy.|
||Avoids all foods of animal origin.|
||10 dietary regimes of increasing restrictions.|
Usually vegetarian, but may eat meat or fish if wild/hunted in the lowest dietary regimens.
Diet is usually based on brown rice with some fruit, vegetables and pulses. The final stage of the diet consists of wholegrains and limited liquids.
||Diet is usually based on fresh and dried fruits, nuts, seeds and a few vegetables-generally consisting only of foods that did not kill the plant of origin.|
Vegetarianism often involves not just an eating pattern but a philosophy which affects the whole lifestyle.
There can be both benefits and drawbacks to following a vegetarian lifestyle and poor intake of certain nutrients, for which animal products are particularly good providers, can be a major problem if alternative sources are not consumed.