Vegetarianism is the practice of following a plant-based diet including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds, mushrooms, with or without dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat meat, including red meat, game, poultry, fish, crustacean, and shellfish, and may also abstain from by-products of animal slaughter such as animal-derived rennet and gelatin. As some cheeses contain animal-derived rennet, and gelatin-derived products may contain unfamiliar animal ingredients, these products may unknowingly be consumed by vegetarians.
Vegetarianism is adopted for various reasons: ethical, health, environmental, religious, political, cultural, aesthetic, economic, culinary (some people simply do not enjoy consuming meat) or other reasons, and there are a number of vegetarian diets. A lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but not eggs, an ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy products, and an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet excludes all animal products, such as dairy products, eggs, and honey.
Vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, dementias such as Alzheimer's Disease and other disorders. Non-lean red meat, in particular, has been found to be directly associated with increased risk of cancers of the esophagus, liver, colon, and the lungs. Other studies have shown no significant differences between vegetarians and non vegetarians in mortality from cerebrovascular disease, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, or prostate cancer, although the sample of vegetarians was small and included ex-smokers who had switched their diet within the last five years. A 2010 study compared a group of vegetarian and meat-eating Seventh Day Adventists in which vegetarians scored lower on depression tests and had better mood profiles.
Vegetarianism can be a very healthy option but only if your vegetarian diet plan is well balanced. This means eating a variety of foods including grains, fruit and vegetables, beans, pulses, nuts or seeds, a small amount of fat, with or without dairy products.
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