Many people today prefer to reduce or
completely eliminate animal foods from their diets. Nearly 12.5 million
people refer to themselves as vegetarians, a number that has nearly
doubled over the last ten years.
The reasons for becoming a vegetarian
can range from a concern with health to ethical or moral concerns. From a
health standpoint, diets that cut out meats are likely to have lower
levels of fats, especially saturated fats. They may also, depending upon
the type of vegetarian diet adopted, greatly reduce or even eliminate a
dietary source of cholesterol.
Just as there may be many reasons for
becoming a vegetarian, there is more than one type of vegetarian. The
following list provides some definitions and standards for a range of
vegetarian options :
Vegans : This diet is based
purely on vegetable foods, and excludes all forms of animal-based foods,
including eggs, honey, fish, dairy foods, poultry , and red meat. There
are some special concerns vegans need to be aware of so that they can
balance their nutritional needs adequately.
Fruitarian : Similar to a vegan
diet, eating predominantly fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Ovo-vegetarians : This diet
adds eggs but no animal flesh or dairy to the vegan's diet.
Lacto / Ovo-vegetarian : This
indicates an individual who eats dairy products (milk, yogurt & cheese) in
addition to the ovo-vegetarian diet. All animal flesh is excluded.
Pesco-vegetarian : fish is
included, but no other type of animal flesh.
Semi-vegetarian : all food,
excluding only beef, veal, pork, lamb, and game, are eaten. Fish and
chicken are occasionally part of a meal.
One phenomenon today's cook needs to
keep in mind is the growing number of individuals who consider themselves
situational vegetarians, or alternivores. An alternivore is any person who
might, given an attractive choice, opt to prefer a vegetarian or a