A vegetarian diet is a centuries old system of eating that avoids chicken, meat and pork, while relying on plant foods as the basis of healthy nutrition.
There are different levels of vegetarianism that avoid certain or all animal and meat by-products, depending on the diet requirements of each.
There are also various reasons for adopting a vegetarian diet including health, religious or ethical priorities.
Since eating saturated fats derived from animal products has been proven to cause high cholesterol, and in turn, heart disease, many people choose a vegetarian diet simply for better health.
Foods Avoided with Vegetarianism:
The type of vegetarian diet will determine what foods are excluded. Generally, however, these foods are avoided:
- Fish and all animal by-products
- Dairy, cheese, milk and eggs
- All non-food products made with the use of animal or animal by-products
America’s Interest in Vegetarianism
The popularity of choosing a plant-based diet is on the rise in the U.S. because of the specific health benefits of a meatless diet.
In 2009, 2.5% of the population identified themselves as vegetarians. According to the Harris Interactive study commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, a whopping 16 million Americans are either vegetarian or vegan, with 50% adopting a vegan lifestyle. That’s 5% of the total population which has doubled since 2009.
Research also indicates that 33% of Americans are choosing to incorporate vegetarian meals in their general diet, even though they are not committed to eating exclusively plant-based meals.
The popularity of vegetarianism continues to grow with 1.4 million people from ages 8 to 18 following the requirements of this diet. According to the 2010 Vegetarian Resource Group Nationwide poll 3% of America’s youth are now vegetarian, which can be attributed to the escalating number of overall families that have committed to eating an exclusively vegetarian diet.