Why People Become Vegetarians

Many nonvegetarians wonder what drives vegetarians to give
up meat and adopt an entirely different lifestyle.
There is no single answer to this question. Nonvegetarians
become vegetarians for a number of different reasons – some
even for multiple reasons.

Most vegetarians claim that they became a vegetarian for
one of three reasons.

The first reason, which most vegetarians claim, is that
they have ethical problems with eating meat. Most disagree
with how chickens are debeaked, forced to live in small
cages, and are then slaughtered when they do not produce
eggs fast enough.

Most vegetarians also disagree with the crowded and
stressful environments animals are forced into; and
the hormone-laden feed used to make them grow faster
and produce more.

People who become vegetarians for this purpose often
draw ethical boundaries in different spots, depending on
their personal beliefs. For instance, some staunch vegans
wont consume yeast, wear wool, or even eat certain
vegetables, such as carrots, that require killing the
plant to harvest.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, some vegetarians–
sometimes referred to as pseudo-vegetarians–will actually
eat fish and chicken on a regular basis.

The second biggest reason vegetarians claim for not eating
meat is that it conflicts with their dietary preferences.
Some of these vegetarians simply do not like the texture
and taste of meat; others do not eat it because it is high
in cholesterol and often contains high concentrations
of hormones and preservatives.

The third and smallest group of vegetarians cite
environmental reasons for not consuming meat. They complain
that consumption of meat causes farmers to continually
deforest land to create grazing land for cattle.

In addition to these three major groups, there are a number
of other smaller groups of vegetarians who stopped eating
meat for entirely different reasons.

Vegetarian Statistics

Many nonvegetarians and some vegetarians alike question
whether being a vegetarian really makes any difference
at all. Some bring up blurry ethical situations to make it
impossible to see a vegetarian lifestyle as ethical.

If you are a prospective vegetarian for ethical reasons,
but aren’t sure whether or not a vegetarian lifestyle is
truly a more ethical choice, here are some statistics
from EarthSave to help you make your choice (for
or against):

1. Over 1.3 billion human beings could be fed each year
from the grain and soybeans that go to livestock in the
United States.

This means that the entire population of the United States
could be fed (without losing any nutritional value) and there
would still be enough food left over to feed one billion

In a world where millions of people die each year of
starvation, that type of food excess and inefficiency
could be considered unethical.

2. Livestock in the US produces roughly 30 times more
excrement than human beings. While humans in the US have
complex sewage systems to collect and treat human waste,
there are no such systems on feedlots. As a result, most
of this waste leeches into water.

This means that large-scale, massive production and
slaughter of animals is not only unethical, but it also
causes serious environmental degradation.

3. It takes 7.5 pounds of protein feed to create 1 pound of
consumable hog protein; and it takes 5 pounds of protein
feed to create 1 pound of consumable chicken protein. Close
to 90% of protein from wheat and beans is lost to feed

This means that an enormous amount of resources are
dedicated to producing wheat and soy just for the purpose
of feeding it to animals, which will be slaughtered as « a
source of protein »–even though they only provide about
1/5 of the amount they consume.

Not only can the production of meat be considered an
injustice against animals, but it can also be considered an
injustice against human beings, as well as the environment
in general.

Why Some Vegetarians Do Not Wear Leather And Silk

Most vegetarians who stop eating meat for ethical
reasons also take measures to avoid contributing to the
suffering and death of animals (and even insects) in other
capacities. For instance, a number of vegetarians refuse to
wear leather and silk because they see it as an ethical
violation of their respect for all living things.

Vegetarians who refuse to wear silk argue that the process
involves unnecessary cruelty to moth larvae. Rather than
allowing the moth to grow and leave the cocoon, silk
manufacturers boil the larvae alive, causing them to suffer
and writhe, in order to obtain longer strands of silk.

Leather, by contrast, does not directly contribute to the
suffering of animals in most cases. In most cases, leather
is made from the byproducts of animals that would be
slaughtered for meat, rennet, and other animal

This is precisely why many vegetarians who have an ethical
dilemma with meat have no problem wearing leather: because
they do not see it as the primary reason for killing the
animals, but instead a byproduct of the slaughter.

However, certain groups of vegans oppose wearing leather
on the grounds that it indirectly contributes to the
suffering of animals.

These vegans argue that contributing money to the companies
that own the slaughterhouses (and sell the byproducts for
leather, etc.) is just as bad as actually purchasing and
eating meat yourself because you are still contributing
money to the continuation of institutionalized animal

This is certainly something to consider if you are
currently a vegan or a vegetarian for ethical reasons.
It may have been tough to give up meat in the first place,
but if you are truly committed to the cause and you
believe the arguments are strong-enough, you may want
to avoid clothing purchases that will aid institutions
that cause animal suffering.

Why Some Vegetarians Will Not Consume Sugar

Some vegetarians–usually strict vegans–will not consume
sugar. This is because sugar is often whitened with bone
char from cows.

If you are a vegetarian and you want to continue eating
products that contain sugar, but do not want to cause
suffering in the process, you have a number of options.

Your first option is to only consume products made with
beet sugar. There are two major sources of sugar in the
United States: beet sugar and cane sugar. Cane sugar is
often whitened with bone char from cows; in contrast, beet
sugar is never whitened with bone char.

So, if you want to completely avoid the bone char, you can
do so by eating only beet sugar. The only challenge–and it
is a big one–is finding out which foods contain beet sugar
and which foods contain cane sugar.

To make things more complex, you can also consume a number
of types of cane sugar, as long as you are willing to find
out what the source of the sugar is.

You can do this in a lot of cases by looking at the
nutritional panel on food before you buy it. If it says
fructose or dextrose, the sugar is from a plant source
(either beet or corn). If it says sucrose, it could be from
a number of sources, which could include bone char-whitened
cane sugar.

Now, if you are cooking with sugar, you can personally
verify that is bone-char free by purchasing from the
following companies, which have publicly-stated that they
do not use bone-char: Florida Crystals Refinery, Imperial
Sugar Company, Irish Sugar Ltd., Sugar In the Raw (which is
also less-refined), and American Crystal Sugar Company.

If you can’t find these brands, but want to avoid consuming
bone-char sugar if possible, you can avoid these brands,
which have publicly-stated that they do use bone-char:
Domino, Savannah Foods, and C&H Sugar Company.

Is A Vegetarian Diet Safe For My Infant?

If, for dietary or ethical reasons, you have decided
that you want to put your infant on a vegetarian diet,
you should be very careful in choosing formulas and solid
food for your child.

If you plan to breastfeed the infant and you
are also a vegetarian, you may need to supplement
breastmilk with additional sources of nutrition, depending
on your dietary restrictions. If you are a vegan, or an
ovo-vegetarian, you should add sources of vitamin B-12 to
your child’s diet.

Other than the B-12 supplements, your infant should be
able to receive all micro and macronutrients through
breastfeeding, even if you are on a strictly vegan

If you plan to use formula rather than breastmilk, you
should stick to commercial formulas, which contain the
proper amounts and ratios of nutrients. If you opt for
a homemade formula or soymilk over a commercial product,
your child could experience developmental problems from
a lack of proper nutrition.

If you want to keep your infant on a vegan diet, you can
select a soy commercial formula, as long as it is

After about a year, you can begin to supplement formula
or breastmilk with other sources of nutrition, such as
homemade formulas, soymilk, yogurt, and cow’s milk (if you
are not a vegan).

Nutritionists suggest that you keep your infant on a
full-fat, high protein diet after age one, which includes
vegetarian-friendly foods, such as mashed and pureed
avocados, soy milk, nutrient-fortified tofu, and yogurt.

When you are ready to switch your infant to solid
vegetarian foods, you can introduce solid tofu, pieces of
vegetarian burgers, eggs, and cheese.

If you supplement what a nonvegetarian diet lacks, maintain
a full-fat diet, and increase your infant’s sources of
protein, you should have no problem maintaining a healthful
vegetarian diet during your child’s crucial developmental

How To Cook For A Vegetarian This Holiday Season

Are you worried about cooking for a vegetarian in your
family this upcoming holiday season? Well, worry no more.
This article will tell you exactly what you need to do
and know before you start cooking this holiday season.

You can start off by finding out what type of vegetarian
your guest is. For instance, if she is a strict
vegan, then there’s a chance she will not eat food
that contains honey or yeast; however, if on the other
hand, she is a « semi » or « pseudo » vegetarian, there is a
chance she will actually eat the meal as it is prepared,
including the meat. And if she’s a lacto-ovo-vegetarian,
she might eat anything with eggs and milk, but will
probably avoid meat dishes.

If you talk to the vegetarian in your family before you
prepare your holiday meal, you should consider asking the
following five questions:

1. Do you eat certain types of meat or none at all?

If the vegetarian in your family will eat certain meats
(generally fish, chicken, and turkey), then you should
consider preparing that as a side dish or asking them if
they would like to bring a small dish of it for their
own meal.

2. Will you use serving utensils that have been placed in dishes
containing meat?

Some vegetarians experience severe gastrointestinal stress when they
consume meat and grease from meat, so it is a good idea to find
out whether or not they can do so ahead of time. If they can’t,
you can simply put out one utensil for all non-meat dishes and
ask that guests do not cross-contaminate.

3. Do you eat foods that contain milk and eggs?

As I mentioned above, lacto-ovo vegetarians will eat milk
and eggs, but other sub-categories of vegetarian will not.
Some wont do it for health reasons; others wont for
ethical reasons. Whatever the case, you can get around this
problem by either creating more dishes that do not contain
milk and eggs or by using egg replacer, which you can find
at most supermarkets, and milk replacements, such as soy

4. Do you eat honey and yeast?

Some vegetarians do not eat honey and yeast for ethical
reasons. If you find out that the vegetarian in your family
does not eat honey and yeast ahead of time, you can either
prepare alternate dishes or ask if they are willing to
bring an alternate dish.

5. Would you like to bring your own main dish (to replace
the turkey, ham, etc.)?

Many vegetarians eat popular meat-replacement dishes,
such as « tofurkey » and « veggie burgers. » Your guest will
probably be more than willing to bring her own meat-
replacement dish if you ask.

To reiterate, there are a number of things you should take
into consideration when you cook for a vegetarian
this holiday season; however, the single most important
thing you can do is actually approach the vegetarian
and ask how you can accommodate her and if she would
like to cook with you or bring her own dish.

If you keep this in mind, your holiday meal will be a
success with everyone – even the vegetarian in your family!

Is A Vegetarian Diet Safe For My Child?

If you are vegetarian parent, you have probably considered
putting your child on a vegetarian diet. Not only would
it save time and make meal-planning easier, but for dietary
and ethical reasons, you believe it is a better choice
for your child.

Conversely, you might not be a vegetarian yourself, but
have a child who is going through a vegetarian « phase, »
where she rejects meat, but doesn’t consume enough healthy
foods to compensate for the nutritional gap.

Whatever the case is, you may have wondered whether or
not a vegetarian diet is sustainable, healthy choice
for your child. You may have heard that putting your child
on a vegetarian diet could potentially stunt her growth.

These concerns probably prevented you from putting your
child on a vegetarian diet up to this point.

And all of these concerns are legitimate. In fact, if
a vegetarian diet is poorly planned, it can cause serious
short and long term health problems, especially
for children, who are growing and developing–and who
do not yet have sufficient stores of vitamins.

If you aren’t well-prepared to put your child on a
vegetarian diet, you definitely shouldn’t. However,
if you have done your nutritional research and you are
familiar with the nutrients vegetarians commonly lack,
then you know that these problems can easily
be overcome with some meal planning.

You also know that putting your child on a healthful
vegetarian diet can greatly improve her health
in both the short and long term. It can also
reduce her exposure to animal products that contain
hormones and preservatives, which have been linked
to developmental problems and cancer.

If you haven’t researched vegetarian diets thoroughly,
but you are anxious to start your child on one now,
you should start by ensuring that you plan meals to
boost amounts of the following nutrients (that most
vegetarians lack):

1. Protein. Make sure your child is consuming enough
protein by adding additional sources, such as wheat,
soybeans, isolated soy protein, and nuts.

2. Calcium. Ensure your child is consuming enough calcium
by adding calcium-fortified processed foods and leafy
green vegetables to his diet.

3. Iron. Add more iron to your child’s diet by increasing
servings of soybeans, pinto beans, tofu, and cereals.

4. Zinc. Enhance your child’s zinc intake by increasing
his servings of almonds, peanut butter, and mushrooms.

If you concentrate on compensating for all of these common
nutritional deficiencies, you absolutely can put your child
on a vegetarian diet without any negative health

Just ignore the mythology surrounding vegetarian diets and
instead focus on research and meal-planning.

What Is Vegetarian Cheese?

Vegetarian cheese is cheese that is not curdled with
rennet, an enzyme that occurs naturally in animal stomachs.
Most vegetarian cheeses are curdled with either plants,
fungi, or bacteria.

Vegetarians who do not consume cheese with rennet
generally choose not to because it involves slaughtering
animals to extract the enzymes.

Vegetarian cheese is hard to distinguish from cheese made
with rennet. This lack of distinguisability often forces
vegetarians who are ethically-opposed to harming animals
to consume cheeses that contain rennet.

Even though more cheeses are being made with vegetable
rennet, it is usually impossible to spot the difference,
unless the package is clearly labeled « vegetarian cheese. »
Recently, some grocery stores have started doing this
to aid vegetarian shoppers, who would not otherwise be
able to distinguish the difference between the vegetable
and animal rennet cheeses.

In addition to eating cheeses made with vegetable rennet,
there are more alternatives to eating regular cheese.

Vegans, for instance, do not consume cheese at all because
it is an animal byproduct and subsequently requires animals
to be caged and suffer. Many vegans, however, do
consume cheese substitutes.

Chreese ( is one of these substitutes.
Chreese is an all natural, non-soy, cheese replacement
that requires substantially less natural resources
and energy to create than cheese with rennet.

And chreese is just one substitute. There are a number
of other all natural alternatives you can find
at local organic and health food stores.

If you are a vegetarian and you don’t support animal
suffering on your behalf in any capacity, you may
also want to consider adjusting your dietary habits
if you consume cheese made with animal rennet.

To reiterate, you have three basic options: you can
look for grocery stores that label vegetarian cheese;
you can purchase vegetarian cheese online; or you can
purchase cheese alternatives online or at your local
organic or health food store.

The Difference Between Vegan & Vegetarian

If you recently started reading about vegetarian
diets, you have probably read all sorts of
strange vegetarian terms and categories like « vegan, »
« ovo-lacto vegetarian, » and « semi-vegetarian. »
You probably wondered what the big deal was.
Afterall, what is so conceptually tough about not
eating meat?

And you were right!

The distinctions between these sub-categories of
vegetarian are actually small, but each is very important
to members who belong to the groups. For them, these
distinctions aren’t arbitrary lines; they are important
dietary or ethical decisions.

Let’s take a look at some of these groups:


Vegetarian is a blanket term used to describe a person
who does not consume meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.
This grouping includes vegans and the various sub-
categories of vegetarian; however, it generally implies
someone who has less dietary restrictions than a vegan.


The term semi-vegetarian is usually used to describe
someone who is not actually a vegetarian. Semi-vegetarian
generally implies someone who only eats meat occasionally
or doesn’t eat meat, but eats poultry and fish.


Ovo-lacto vegetarians are vegetarians who do not consume
meat, poultry, fish, and seafood, but do consume eggs and
milk. This is the largest group of vegetarians.


Ovo-vegetarian is a term used to describe someone who
would be a vegan if they did not consume eggs.


Lacto-vegetarian is a term used to describe someone
who would be a vegan if they did not consume milk.


Vegan is the strictest sub-category of vegetarians.
Vegans do not consume any animal products or byproducts.
Some even go as far as not consuming honey and yeast.
Others do not wear any clothing made from animal

Take some time to figure out what group you will belong
to when you become a vegetarian. You will want to consider
both dietary and ethical reasons for choosing this

Why Some Vegans Do Not Wear Wool

Many vegans quit eating meat, eggs, milk, honey, and yeast
for one very specific reason: they have a deep reverence
for all living things and subsequently want to prevent
all living things from suffering on their behalf.

This reverence for all living things drives some vegans
to what nonvegetarians might consider extremes. Some live
greatly restricted lives, but for a noble cause: to
prevent suffering and death wherever possible.

In addition to preventing death and suffering through
dietary selections, some vegans have vow to prevent it
in all other capacities.

For instance, some vegans do not wear wool because they
believe it contributes to animal suffering.

These vegans often cite how scientists have bred sheep
over the years to generate unnatural amounts of wool for
human needs. This breeding has resulted in the Merino
sheep of today, which often has enough wool to equal its
body weight.

As a result of this counter-evolutionary trait, the Merino
sheep that exists today often has far more wool than it
needs, which is evidenced by the high amount of sheep that
die of heat exhaustion. In addition to overheating
in hot temperatures, many sheep end up freezing to
death after they are sheared.

The wool shearing process can also cause quite a bit
of suffering for the sheep. Almost a quarter of all wool
sheared from sheep is « skin wool, » which is so close to
the sheep’s skin that it is actually must be torn off.

If you currently are a vegetarian for ethical reasons,
take some time to consider whether or not wearing wool
compromises your commitment to end or at least stop
contributing to animal suffering.

For some vegetarians, wearing wool is just as bad as
eating meat; and for others, it simply isn’t an issue
because they do not believe it causes an unreasonable
amount of suffering. Which are you?