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History of Vegetarianism
To get a good understanding of being a vegetarian, vegetarian food, and cooking it will help to learn about the origins of Vegetarianism. Vegetarianism can be traced back to ancient Egyptian society where many religious sects abstained from eating meat or wearing clothing that was made from animal skins do to their beliefs in reincarnation. The practice could also be found in ancient Greece. Most notably, the famed scholar Pythagoras, known for his contributions in the field of mathematics believed that being a vegetarian was an essential part of being a good human and would help lead to a peaceful existence. The idea of being a vegetarian was hotly debated by the Greeks throughout their civilization. This was one idea that the Romans did not share with the Greeks. Romans saw animals as a source of food and entertainment for the masses.
Vegetarianism in Religion
Adhering to a vegetarian diet is central to many religions. Buddhism shows kindness to all living things and its believers hold many animals to be scared for what they provide to humans whether it is milk or as work animals to help plow fields. Followers of Christianity had different views when it came to being a vegetarian. Christians believe that humans reign over all other living things on Earth meaning that they believe that animals are here for their use whether that means as beasts of burden or as a food source. However, that does not mean that all Christians are carnivores. Throughout history, different sects of Christians have broken with the mainstream beliefs and preached a vegetarian lifestyle. Vegetarianism played a key role for Christians in Eastern Europe; among these groups were the Bogomils that rose up in the 900’s in what is now modern day Bulgaria. The Bogomils were seen as heretics because they spoke out against what they saw as the excesses of monasteries and the Eastern Orthodox Church; they rejected the physical world and forswore the consumption of eggs, meat, and cheese that led them to lead a vegetarian lifestyle.
While not all Hindu’s practice vegetarianism a substantial portion of the followers of the religion up to 35 percent adhere to a vegetarian lifestyle. Those that live as vegetarians believe that idea of nonviolence applies to animals and that by avoiding the slaughter of animals they will not bring bad karma upon their family. The influence of vegetarianism on the Hindu religion came from its predecessor Brahmanism in which violence against animals was strictly controlled with its scriptures only allowing the slaughter of animals for religious sacrifice.
In Addition, the Brahmanism views are also expressed in the Hindu law book the Dharma??stra, which denounced the slaughter of animals and the consumption of meat unless it was performed in a proper religious sacrifice performed by priests. Today, the slaughter of animals based on these principles has almost come to an end.
Other major religions throughout the world to include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have followers that adhere to a vegetarian diet, but the religions do not have a strict policy concerning the consumption of animals. However, when it comes to Judaism and Islam followers of these religions will not consume meat unless it has been slaughtered through the traditional halal method for Muslims and kosher method for followers of Judaism. While both of these religions allow their followers to eat meat that has been prepared in the proper manner they both avoid eating pork, and meat from carnivorous animals to include birds of prey.
Types of Vegetarians
If you are looking to join the vegetarian lifestyle, there are different options from which you can choose. These different options give you the opportunity to ease your way into the scene without having to jump into the deep end with no life vest. You no longer have to make the decision to swear off meat all together to be a vegetarian and you can choose to be one of the four types.
Strict vegetarians are also known as vegans and as their name implies, they do not eat any products that derive from animals, to include cheese, eggs, and cream. Vegans will replace the nutrients that are found in food that comes from animals with different foodstuffs. For example, vegans use tofu to replace meat that may be found in a dish along with the use of plant cream and plant milk. The nutrients that humans get from eggs and cheeses are replaced with the substitution of applesauce and certain ground seeds like flax.
Strict vegetarians also have their own variations of foods that meat eaters consume. If you take the time to visit your local health food store, you will have no problem finding vegetarian sausage, vegetarian burgers, vegetarian chicken nuggets, and vegetarian bacon. To replace what nutrition that is lost by not eating meat nutritionists recommend that vegans have a minimum of three servings a day of vegetables that include the dark green and leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, along with vegetables like carrots.
To further their nutritional intake nutritionists recommend that strict vegetarians also consume at least five servings a day of whole grains like pasta, bread, and rice. To comply with nutritionist guidelines strict vegetarians should also have three servings of fruit and at least two servings of beans, peas, or lentils.