In today’s modern culture, it is very easy for many of us to write off the definition of vegetarianism without giving it a second thought. Many people think about what a vegetarian is and believe that all vegetarianism concerns are a lack of meat in a the diet. This statement is true. Vegetarianism does concern a diet exists without the presence of meat. However, there are many other things defining vegetarianism. For instance, vegetarianism is defined by the political stance against the abuse of animals used for food. Vegetarianism is also defined by a commitment one makes to create a better world for all living creatures. This definition includes better treatment of animals, better nutritional education, and greener living. Vegetarianism has moved beyond being a diet and is now becoming a way of life.
The previously held ideals about what vegetarianism is defined by are still true. Vegetarianism, according to an article by Michael Fox Allen, called, “Vegetarianism and Veganism,” is a diet that is absent of meats . Many people decide to live on a diet based solely on grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, because they believe it to be healthier, and they do not want to be a part of animal abuse. Vegetarians partaking in vegetarianism avoid eating any meat, including red meat, seafood, poultry, or the flesh of any animal. Many also abstain from eating any foods that are the by-product of animal slaughter. The vegetarianism lifestyle can lack in nutrition if one does not take the time to nourish the body properly. Many essential things are found in meats that the body needs. Therefore, vegetarianism is also defined by a healthy intake of vitamins and supplements such as calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and Vitamin B-12. Many of these, such as calcium and protein, can be found in vegetarian friendly foods, such as milk and eggs. However, if meat is eliminated from the diet, one may have to take in supplements in order to get the proper amount of these nutritional essentials, regardless of the other foods they may be eating. Other forms of vegetarianism include lacto-vegetarianism, which allows the individual to eat dairy products, but not eggs, and ova-vegetarianism, which allows the individual to eat eggs, but not dairy products. Each diet is strict and normally adopted with health in mind. The animal’s right to life is a secondary issue, thoough this has begun to vary, according to Fox .
Many people practicing vegetarianism must be careful about the foods they buy that are not natural or purchased in their natural form. Several packaged goods, such as cookies, chocolate, marshmallows, and yogurt may contain animal ingredients that carry unfamiliar labels. This act can jeopardize all that defines vegetarianism if a vegetarian would happen to ingest one of these foods. Many times, vegetarians review these products before purchase. However, sometimes boxes of foodstuffs, such as cookies or cakes are purchases without a second thought because there is no assumption that a cookie would contain the gelatin from a cow hoof after it has been slaughtered. By definition, it would go against vegetarianism to ingest some of these foods based on what they contain, and it is important for people committed to this lifestyle to review their choices before purchase. The primary health reasons for becoming a vegetarian are to avoid the steroids and hormones that are often found in the meats sold at local grocery stores. Unless local farmers raise livestock, it is often fed many harmful chemicals and antibiotics that, when ingested by a human, can cause damage. Many people wished to avoid these side effects.
While that is the traditional definition of vegetarianism, there has been a movement that is continually spreading throughout the world, helping to redefine the word. At one time, cutting meat out of the diet was only for health, in an effort to avoid the harmful substances that were often found in the animal meat. Now, however, according to Hsin-Yi Yeh’s article, “Boundaries, Entities, and Modern Vegetarianism: Examining the Emergence of the First Vegetarian Organization,” vegetarianism is becoming something far more serious. Though cutting meat out of the diet can be healthy for some, vegetarianism is becoming something that is being defined by one’s desire to protect the rights of animals . Movements across the globe have been slowly gaining strength since the late 1990’s, as stated in Yeh’s findings. Many, if not all, who participate practice vegetarianism. Many others practice veganism. Their aim is to protect those without a voice. (Yeh 230).
Many people across the globe began to understand how badly animals were treated throughout their lives before they were led to slaughter, only to meet the demands to feed the world. The increasing rate of populating demanded more animals, which demanded large herds, and more killing. What was worse, many of the animals were bred specifically to feed people, and then treated badly their entire lives for such a cause. For example, To make certain French cuisines, geese are locked in cages and holes are drilled into their necks. A tube is inserted directly into their stomach, where food is funneled up to 15 hours a day.The geese are in terrible pain their entire lives. They are unable to walk and eventually their stomachs explode. The purpose of this is to make the meat on their bodies extra tender and plump. The liver becomes very rich throughout this process, and is considered a delicacy (Yeh 234). In another horrific act of animal torture, pigs are mutilated before they are slaughtered for human consumption. They are shaved and then beaten in hopes that it will tenderize their meat. After this atrocity, they are often boiled or skinned alive before finally being sawed in half or dismembered in a different, equally violent way.
People who work in slaughterhouses, according to Matthew B. Ruby and his associates, attest to the fact that the pigs sound as if they have feelings . In many instances, the workers in the slaughterhouses are forced to leave their jobs because they are haunted by the squeals and looks of sadness in the animal’s eyes. Chickens, primarily used by the Tyson Corporation, are treated no better than geese used for French dishes. Chickens on many farms across the country are dosed with steroids from the time that they are chicks, which causes them to grow much quicker than a normal chicken. Many chicks, which are only two months old, should be no bigger than a man’s fist. However, chickens that are on an unhealthy dose of steroids are often larger than a man’s head, as was documented in Ruby’s article, “Compassion and Contamination: Cultural Differences in Vegetarianism . The chickens are often so heavy, and so fat, that their small legs cannot support them. They were crammed in coops to tightly that they were unable to stretch or move freely. Much like the geese, they do not walk throughout their lives. Instead they are left to sit in the dark until the day comes that they are slaughtered. Many of them die before they are able to be “harvested” at the proper time. They are also overfed, sometimes until their bellies burst. It is a sad way to treat animals before we slaughter them for good.
One may ask what vegetarianism has to do with the mistreatment of animals, but the answer is quite simple. When individuals began finding out how badly animals were being treated before being sent to plants to be made into food, and then began to wonder how they could help. Obviously stealing the animals or staging some form of rescue was out of the question. Something far more likely to work was to educate the public on how the animals were being treated and to eliminate the demand for such a cruel supply of food. There was hope that they would appeal to the public’s empathic nerve and that more people would want to help save the animals, as well. Slowly, vegetarianism became a movement to save the animals that were being so badly harmed and abused in the name of feeding the clamoring masses. Vegetarians were aware that it was possible to sustain a healthy life without the help of animal meat, and the fact that animals were being mistreated so badly was considered a travesty. Though vegetarianism was still defined by the absence of meat in one’s diet, it also took on a new definition. Vegetarianism is now often defined by one’s commitment to defending the welfare of animals that are on the slaughtering line.
As social awareness for animals and the treatment of them began to grow, environmental awareness also began to grow. People who had begun the vegetarianism movement with a simple desire to be healthy had started crusades to help save animals, and now they wanted to help the environment too. They saw, as stated in Yeh’s article, that many of the factories hosting these killing floors were pumping copious amounts of pollution into the air. Vegetarians also noticed that the land it took to feed this many animals were decimating that natural beauty all around us that was meant to be persevered. What was more, the land that was destroyed to raise and abuse these animals until they were slaughtered was left unusable. This fact meant that any crops that would sustain life after animals were no longer an option, would eventually be an impossibility . Vegetarians and vegans began to see the impact this would have on the planet in years to come. They began campaigning not only for their health and the wellbeing of animals, but for the wellbeing of the planet and the land in the future, for generations to come. Over the period of 15 years, beginning in 1992, the vegetarianism movement became, not only about saving the land that the animals were on, but about reducing air pollution, light pollution, garbage, and what is now referred to as “going green .” Though there are many environmentally aware individuals on the planet, vegetarians are among the top, and environmental awareness has begun to define vegetarianism because of that. Consumerism among vegetarians is down by 15%; vegetarians attempt to live as self-sustainably as possible . Their valiant attempt to be a part of the solution, rather than a part of the environment’s problem contributes to the fact that vegetarianism is no longer simply defined by what a person puts in their bodies, but instead by what they do with their lives.
In sum, the definition of vegetarianism has been evolving over the years. There are many different types of vegetarians. They range from individuals who do not eat meat, to those who do not eat meat or dairy, to those who do not eat meat or eggs. This diet is where the definition of vegetarianism began. It was based around what an individual put in their bodies for the sake of health. As time went on, people began to learn about the treatment of animals in the plants and livestock yards before they were slaughtered to make food in restaurants and grocery stores. Many people, particularly vegetarians and vegans, were outraged. They began tagging protests and attempting to save the animals. Not eating meat became a statement against the abuse as they attempted to remove the demand for animals from the market. In this way, the definition began to change. As people grew more conscious of these atrocities, they were awoken to other problems with the environment, such as pollution and consumption of resources. Vegetarians are often among the most socially and environmentally conscious people, always attempting to reduce their impact on the world around them. With their attempt, they once again changed the definition of vegetarianism. What began as a movement in health, as turned into a movement in health and environmental awareness.
Fox, Michael Allen. "Vegetarianism and Veganism." The International Encylopedia of Ethics (2013): 312-322. Print.
Ruby, Matthew B., et al. "Compassion and contamination. Cultural differences in vegetarianism." Appetite (2013): 340-348. Print.
Yeh, Hsin-Yi. "Boundaries, Entities, and Modern Vegetarianism: Examining the Emergence of the First Vegetarian Organization." Qualititave Inquiry (2013): 298-309. Print.