DescriptionVegetarianism involves the practice of following a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds, with or without dairy products or eggs. A vegetarian does not eat meat, such as game, poultry, fish, crustacea and shellfish, and may also abstain from by-products of animal slaughter such as animal-derived rennet and gelatin. Various foods or treats, such as cake, chocolate, chips, gum, marshmallows and gummy candies, often contain unfamiliar animal ingredients, and may especially be a concern for vegetarians due to the likelihood of such additions. While some vegetarians are unaware of animal-derived rennet's role in the usual production of cheese and may therefore unknowingly consume the ingredient, others of the diet are not bothered by its consumption. Often, however, animal-derived products, such as certain cheeses, gelatin or other animal-derived ingredients, are scrutinized by vegetarians prior to purchase or consumption.
Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons: In addition to ethical reasons, some reasons for vegetarianism include health, religious, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic or economic, and there are varieties of the diet: An ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy products, a lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but not eggs, and an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products. A strict vegetarian diet or vegan diet excludes all animal products, such as eggs, dairy, and honey.
Semi-vegetarian diets consist largely of vegetarian foods, but may include fish or poultry, or other meats on an infrequent basis. Those with diets containing fish or poultry may define "meat" only as mammalian flesh and may identify with vegetarianism. A pescetarian diet, for example, includes "fish but no meat". The common use association between such diets and vegetarianism has led vegetarian groups such as the Vegetarian Society to state diets containing these ingredients are not vegetarian, due to fish and birds being animals.