Vegetarianism is becoming more and more popular around the world, and many people find that eating a vegetarian diet improves their own health as well as reducing animal suffering and damage to our planet. But what exactly is a vegetarian? And is it enough just to stop eating meat?
A vegetarian (also commonly called a “lacto-ovo vegetarian”) is a person who does not eat animal flesh of any kind but who may eat dairy products (milk or milk products) and eggs. So people who eat fish or products that contain animal fats are not vegetarian.
A vegan (known in some countries as a “pure vegetarian”) is a person who eats, uses, and wears no animal products or byproducts of any kind, which includes animal flesh, dairy products, eggs, leather, wool, silk, and honey.
While it may seem like a big step to make the move from being a vegetarian (or even a meat-eater) to being vegan, it really is a simple and rewarding change. But how is such a small step for one person really going to make such a big difference for animals?
Most vegetarians realize that animals raised for food suffer cruel and inhumane treatment just so that people can eat their flesh. But what they may not know is how much cruelty is involved in the production of milk products and eggs.
Cows used to produce milk are repeatedly impregnated, have their calves taken away within a day of birth, and are forced to produce as much as 10 times more milk than they would naturally. Chickens used to produce eggs are crammed into “battery cages” with around five other birds, cannot even spread their wings, and have parts of their sensitive beaks cut off, and they often end up unable to stand, thanks to the wire flooring.
Aside from the cruelty to animals involved, many people, such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, have found that when they stopped eating eggs and dairy products, their health and energy levels improved dramatically.
Going vegan really isn’t hard these days—with delicious soy ice creams, eggless mayonnaise, and even soy cheese readily available, there really is nothing to lose when giving up dairy products and eggs (except maybe some unwanted pounds and a couple of dress sizes!).
Posted by Claire Fryer