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What do Julia Stiles, Leonardo da Vinci, and Moby have in common? How about Albert Einstein, Drew Barrymore, and David Bowie?
If you guessed they’re all vegetarians, you’re right. And so are thousands of other celebrities – actors and musicians, scientists and artists, athletes and inventors. And so are millions of ordinary people across North America and around the world.
In fact, vegetarianism is a growing worldwide trend. Just consider these facts:
*Approximately 13 million North Americans are vegetarians and a million more join their ranks every year.
*Experts say kids in their teens are the fastest-growing group of vegetarians.
*More than one million North American kids in the 6 to 17 age bracket have said “no” to meat.
A vegetarian is a person who eats no meat of any kind – no beef, pork, lamb, poultry, or fish. A vegetarian diet may include animal products such as eggs, dairy products (such as milk, cheese, and yogurt), and honey.
Simple, right? Not so fast. Within the basic definition, there are several sub-categories.
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Lacto means milk and ovo means egg, so – you guessed it – a lacto-ovo vegetarian eats dairy products and eggs, but no meat. About 95 percent of all vegetarians in North America are this type. So, for the obvious sub-sub-categories…
Lacto vegetarian: A vegetarian who eats dairy products but no eggs.
Ovo vegetarian: A vegetarian who eats eggs but no dairy products.
Vegan: A vegan is a person who does not use any animal products for food or clothing. That means not only do vegans eat no meat, milk, or eggs, but also they consume and use no honey, leather, wool, silk, or down. Veganism is not just a diet, it’s a way of life that avoids exploiting animals in any way.
Macrobiotic: A macrobiotic diet follows a Japanese philosophy based on principles of eating, such as balancing the energy in foods, rather than on including or excluding certain foods. Most macrobiotic diets are vegetarian, although some include fish.
Fruitarian: Just the way it sounds, a fruitarian diet consists of only fruits, including tomatoes, squash, seeds, and nuts. Even with these foods, a fruitarian diet is not considered healthy.
Semi-vegetarian: Some people mainly follow a vegetarian diet but eat small amounts of meat, poultry, or fish. They might call themselves vegetarians, although they are not true vegetarians. Pesco means fish, and pollo means chicken, so pesco vegetarians and pollo vegetarians are – well, you can figure it out.
Did You Know?
* Every year, in the U.S. and Canada, seven billion animals – not including fish – are slaughtered for food. That’s more creatures than there are people on earth!
* Every average North American man, woman, and child consumes 35 animals a year. Over a lifetime, that adds up to 2555 chickens and turkeys, 33 pigs, and 12 cattle and calves.
*Most food animals are raised in cages and pens that are too small for them. Often, they have no room to walk or even turn around.
* It takes 10 times more water, and 10 to 20 times more energy, to produce beef as it does to produce the same amount of wheat. It takes less water and energy to produce food for a vegetarian for a year than to produce food for a meat-eater for a month.
*We know that cars and factories produce greenhouse gases – but did you know that livestock does, too? Animal manure releases greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.
* The United Nations reports that all 17 of the world’s major fishing areas have been harvested at or beyond their natural limits. And it’s not just fish that are affected. Often, fishing nets catch – and kill– whales, seals, and dolphins.
Most people think that the word “vegetarian” comes from “vegetable.” Wrong! The Vegetarian Society coined the term from the Latin word vegetus, meaning lively or vigorous, to describe how their diet made them feel.
American auto-maker Henry Ford had a passion for soybeans. Not only did he eat them, he also created auto parts from soybean plastic. One of Ford’s cars sported gearshift knobs window frames, pedals, and an exterior made from soybeans!
The Peanut Man
George Washington Carver, born a slave in the American South, became one of the most famous plant scientists in the world. In the early 1900s, he developed over 300 products made from peanuts, including shoe polish and shaving cream. Carver once served dinner guests a meal made entirely from peanuts, starting with peanut soup and finishing with peanut coffee!