Definition- What is vegetarianism?
The term vegetarianism is nowadays used to describe a variety of diets that have in common that they do not consume meat and fish products. The term is derived from the Latin “vegetus”, which means alive, fresh or sprightly. In a broader sense, the term vegetarianism describes a way of life that, in varying degrees, not only abstains from eating meat and fish, but also from using other animal products, such as leather.
Originally, vegetarianism even stood for a complete renunciation of products of living and dead animals (thus also dairy products or eggs). Today, however, the term veganism is usually used for this lifestyle. The borders between vegetarianism and Veganismus are however fluid.
What are the reasons for becoming a vegetarian?
There are many reasons why people choose one of the various vegetarian diets and lifestyles. Accordingly, vegetarians form a very heterogeneous group in terms of reasons, forms and goals of their vegetarianism. Many vegetarians consider it simply unethical to keep animals to produce food with their help or even from their bodies.
Among other things, they point out the undoubtedly respectable intelligence and capacity for suffering of many animals as well as their complex social behavior. Apart from the mostly considered unworthy keeping of animals in stables or even fattening farms, the targeted killing and the resulting man-made shortening of the animals’ lives is criticized above all. A large part of the vegetarians also justify their diet with the high environmental pollution resulting from the meat or livestock industry.
This ranges from high water consumption to the clearing of rainforests and the impact on the climate through the emission of greenhouse gases. According to the Worldwatch Institute, the production of meat, eggs and dairy products generates 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually worldwide. Experts largely agree that a comprehensive switch to a vegetarian diet could not only reduce man-made carbon dioxide emissions, but also the inequality of distribution and hunger in poorer countries around the world.
The situation is similar with regard to fish consumption: the North Sea, for example, is now considered to be significantly overfished, but the fishing industry has severely limited the possibilities for recovery of fish stocks. Many vegetarians hope that doing without meat and fish or even all animal products will have a positive effect on their health. It has been proven that too much meat increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and overweight.
Also the intestine cancer risk is increased by a third by extensive meat consumption. In addition, meat can trigger gout over a longer period of time or at least contribute to the reinforcement of an existing gout. Studies have shown that the dietary fiber intake of vegans (and probably also vegetarians) is significantly higher than in the average population, where the intake is below the target level.
Since Cholesterin is contained only in animal food, a strictly vegetarian nutrition affects the Cholesterinwerte extremely positively – the Cholesterin necessary for the body manufactures this anyway even. Also regarding fatty acids, magnesium, Vitamin E and antioxidants studies determined an increased supply with vegetarian nutrition, which can be evaluated as positive. Beyond that vegetarians point out that the intensive employment of antibiotics in the cattle breeding causes the emergence of antibiotic resistances.