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The word ”vegetarianism” comes from the Latin “vegetatilis” meaning “plant”, and “vegetare” meaning “grow, develop”. Vegetarianism is the way of life, abandoning the use of animal products in alimentation as well as in everyday life. Vegetarians do not eat poultry, fish, game, insects, and sea food of animal origin. They also exclude animal-origin products in everyday life, such as: fur, leather, silk, and products that were tested on animals.

When it comes to the origin of vegetarianism, we should go back to ancient times, when our ancestors ate plant food, because collecting was the guarantee for surviving from famine. According to the scientists’ theory, the reason why people began to eat meat was because of reducing the great number of edible plants after the Ice Age. Then, hunting and cattle appeared, and people became omnivorous. It was also believed that vegetarianism was more common for northern nations, where the climate is much colder.

Vegetarianism has become a rare phenomenon and was associated with magic rituals, different beliefs.

One of the first countries, where vegetarianism was spread, was Egypt. It was also very common in Greece, especially among the philosophers and scientists.

As a special form of nutrition vegetarianism came to Europe from Asia, from Buddhists, followers of Zoroastrianism, the yogis. Later, the vegetarianism has lost its positions in Europe (only monks refused from consuming of meat).

The development of modern vegetarianism occurred in England in the first half of nineteenth century. This idea was borrowed from India, where it was widespread.

There were a lot of cases when famous people promoted vegetarianism. For example, in Denmark, it was the philosopher Martinez, in Sweden- Dan, in Russia- Leo Tolstoy, and many others.

As to the modern history, the fast-moving spread of vegetarianism began in the late forties of the twentieth century, proving the benefit of this way of eating. Many modern celebrities now promote vegetarianism demonstrating its advantages on their example. Popular vegetarians are: Paul McCartney, Madonna, Moby, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Jim Carrey, Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee, Bob Marley and many others.

Along with the history, it is also necessary to get deeper into types of vegetarianism. There are several kinds of vegetarianism.

For example, pescatarians refrain from eating any meat or animal flesh, except from fish.

Flexitarians (semi-vegetarians) occasionally do eat meat.

Vegetarians, in particular, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, are those people, who avoid eating pork, beef, poultry, shellfish, fish, or any kind of animal flesh , but do eat all dairy products and eggs.

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Vegan is someone, who avoids eating meat of any kind, eggs, dairy products, or processed food containing animal-derived ingredients, such as glycerol, gelatin, etc. Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that were using animal products, even if there are none of them in the finished process, such as sugar and some types of wine. Some also debate if honey fits into the vegan diet.

Raw vegans believe that meals, cooked above forty six degrees Celsius, have lost a huge amount of the nutritional value and are harmful for the body.

Macrobiotic diet includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as grains, fruit, and vegetables and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided.

There always have been lots of questions and disputes whether to be a vegetarian or not. There are a lot of reasons why people become vegetarians. In the West, vegetarianism is a normal healing process. Some people object to eating meat, first of all, because they have motivations based on health care, some on cultural taboo (many nations refuse eating such animals as cats, dogs, horses), political, economic (it is cheaper to consume vegetarian food), the followers of several environmental movements, moral, aesthetic (guilt before animals and compassion for them), or various religious beliefs.

Environmental damage caused by grazing livestock has also been a weighty factor. Raising animals for food, causes air and water pollution. Producing meat products destroys rainforests (they become pasture for cattle). It creates global greenhouse gases (because of animals’ fermentation and creating rooms for grazing animals and growing feed).

According to many views, the most important argument in favor of vegetarianism is the ethical consideration. They say that a lot of people comfort themselves that animals are now killed in a “human way”. But unfortunately, that has nothing to do with the truth. All warm-blooded animals may experience pain, stress and fear. But others say that every organism dies at some point, and there is nothing wrong with this cycle. And, vegetarian diet can cause the death of animals too. Such animals as birds, mice and rabbits, that live in the agricultural fields are killed during the harvest.

A great amount of mankind does not support the idea of consuming meat because of religious aspects. They want to conquer the spirit of their body by rejection of sensual pleasures. Such fasting may proceed one day as well as the entire life, due to its strictness and religion itself. Generally, during the fast it is forbidden to consume meat, milk products, fish and eggs over a certain period of time. It is the form of asceticism.

It is followed in Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Anglicanism, Mormonism and many other religions. For example, in Islam there is a month of a very strict fasting, called “Ramadan”.

Many believe in the effect on Sanskrit, which is called “karma”. It means that every action has implications. Although, the concept of karma is usually associated with eastern philosophy, many people understand that the law of karma (the law of cause and effect, the third law of Newton) is the same as the fundamental law of nature, like gravity or time. According to this law, if we cause harm or suffering to another living being, than we will suffer. And as it is written in the famous song of Timberlake: “What goes around comes around”. And some people are sure that even if we do not kill anyone, we are buying meat and, thus, paying money for someone else to commit the murder.

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There is also an opinion that modern interpretation of fast in Christianity is inexact. Some people say, that originally during the fast, it was necessary to eat nothing, and modern fast is not a fast at all.

Some people consider vegetarianism to be one of the main points in leading a healthy way of life. There were some cases when strict vegetarian diet helped to recover from such illness as malignant tumor. It is also widely known as assistant in  keepinh fit.

On one hand, vegetarianism heals our body. Plant food is rich in fiber, which passes through the intestines, and as a brush removes the waste products and remains of undigested food from its walls, purifying it.

There is a tribe of vegetarians in America, who do not practically get sick and their life longevity is approximately from one hundred to one hundred and twenty years. They can swim in the icy water; women have babies in the age of sixty five. In summer, their diet consists of raw fruits and vegetables. In winter they eat dried apricots, cereals and sheep’s cheese.

On the other hand, too much fiber becomes similar to sandpaper, damaging the delicate lining of the intestine. Therefore, for people affected by colitis, gastritis, having pancreatic diseases, pregnant women and nursing mothers, vegetarianism is often contraindicated. Also for senior citizens and children, it is especially important to provide their organisms with elements that are similar to those in meat, milk and eggs. Such elements can be contained in nuts, dried fruit (apricots, in particular), beans, buckwheat, corn, soy and others. The meat is valuable for its protein needed to build the cells. That is why the doctors do not encourage refusing from meat. It is much better to be a vegetarian only once or twice a week.

However, doctors assume that even such way of eating still has some risk.

But, when someone asked seventy-year-old Bernard Show how he felt himself, he answered: “Perfectly, in spite of constant statements of doctors, who irritate me, saying that I will die refusing from meat”. When ninety-year-old Show was asked the same question, he answered: “Perfectly! Nobody irritates me anymore. All those doctors, who convinced me I would not be able to live without meat, are already dead.”

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Some scientists even consider human body’s structure to be modified to consume plant food. Human’s, as well as herbivores’, intestine is much longer (six times longer than the body) than the predator’s (only three times longer than their body); teeth are adapted for chewing plant fibers, we have blunt cutters not for tearing meat unlike the predators, who have sharp incisors. Human body also has many pores on the skin and our bodies are cooling with the help of sweating. Carnivores, vice versa, have no pores and their body is cooled with the help of the tongue. Predators have immature salivary glands, we have got them well-developed. We also have back teeth for chewing, predators do not. Our acid in the stomach is ten times weaker than that of carnivores. And then, a baby whose growing body needs protein, gets it only from mother’s milk. So, animal protein is not so irreplaceable.

Others insist on the assumption that meat is necessary for brain development. But, Leonardo da Vinci, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Plutarch, John Milton, Isaac Newton, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, George Bernard Show, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein and many other geniuses were vegetarians. So the hypothesis that vegetarians have undeveloped brain seems to be really doubtful.

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Nevertheless, the choice always depends on numerous factors. It is very important to consult the doctor if one wants to become a vegetarian. Properly chosen vegetarian diet is very likely to be not only harmful, but even useful to the human body. It is noted by some specialists, that diet reducing saturated fat, cholesterol, animal protein, increases the content of carbohydrates, magnesium, fiber, foliate, and such antioxidants as vitamin C, E. It is also very helpful for those, who dream about their weight loss. So, vegetarians are more likely to have lower body mass index, normal blood pressure, avoid cancer. However, vegetarians have a deficit of vitamin B 12 that is so important for nervous and digestive systems, weakening bones and deepening depression. Again, there is “but”. But, the latest research has shown that most vegetables, fruit seeds, nuts and grains are sources of protein, and without toxic substances. Also, a number of similar studies have found that well-chosen vegetarian foods contain more nutrients than meat. Others showed that vegetarians are able to work from two to three times longer than those, who eat meat; and also they recover their strength three times faster.

All these factors only prove that it is vitally important to listen to your body and only then, it will be really easy to understand what you really need. 

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