Most people in western countries who turn to a vegetarian diet do so for conservation reasons and their lifestyle is often connected to sustainable living that promotes the maintenance of natural resources through recycling, the use of renewable sources of energy and the support of organic farming. More and more people are trying to live a more ecologically friendly life style, in the process cultivating a more conscious humane society.
Many people who turn to vegetarianism have in their minds that changing to a meatless diet is in most probability the first step to a change towards a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. About half a century ago, vegetarianism was regarded as a “peculiarity” and not as a moral duty of care towards self, animals and the environment but today such a notion is outdated and we can see that more and more eco-conscious people are making the switch.
There are several types of vegetarians whose common denominator is a meatless diet, but apart from this there are major differences between various groups. The general term “vegetarian” refers to people who do not consume meat or meat products, fish, or seafood such as mussels, crabs, shrimps etc., or any other dishes containing them.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians often wonder how fair and humane the treatment is of milk producing animals and egg-producing hens. The truth is that dairy products and eggs that come from industrial farms may raise several health and ethical issues. Most industrial farming techniques for the production of milk inject cows with synthetic bovine somatotropin – a hormone that makes them produce larger quantities of milk. That is why lacto-vegetarians are advised to buy organic milk and dairy products which come from cows that are fed natural feed which are free from chemicals, hormones and antibiotics, or even better to consume sheep or goat milk, butter, yoghurt and cheese from small local farms where animals live under natural conditions.
The same thing applies to eggs. Despite the fact that “true” vegetarians avoid consuming eggs, several people who have just made the switch to vegetarianism feel that they can keep their health in check with a little more protein in their diet. Consequently, if you would like a couple of eggs with your breakfast every now and then, buy your eggs from organic farms with free-range hens that are fed organic grain.
During one’s first year as a vegetarian, meals may often contain organic eggs and plenty of organic dairy products, but research has shown that eventually one wont rely too much on such protein sources and many would never compromise for anything where they didn’t know of its origin, quality and its sustainable production.
Vegans are those who consume only plant-based foods and abstain from anything that contains animal-derived substances, while raw vegans exclude from their diet anything that is cooked or processed. Also, there are those who prefer to include fish and seafood in their diet and they are known under the strange name of pescetarians, a word that comes from “pesce” the Latin word for “fish.”
Finally, “flexitarians” are a category of people who eat meat and fish selectively, either when they consider that these foods come from sustainable and ethical sources or when such dishes are offered to them in social or business occasions.