vegetarianism, theory and practice of eating only fruits and vegetables, thus excluding animal flesh, fish, or fowl and often butter, eggs, and milk. In a strict vegetarian, or vegan, diet (i.e., one that excludes all animal products), the nine amino acids that must be supplied by the diet can be obtained by eating foods that include both grains and legumes (e.g., beans or tofu) at any point during the day. Vitamins B12 and D can be obtained through supplements or the addition of a cup of nonfat milk or yogurt to the daily diet. Ovolactovegetarians obtain complete proteins by including milk, cheese, and eggs in their diets.

The basis of the practice of vegetarianism may be religious or ethical, economic, or nutritional, and its followers differ as to strictness of observance. Certain Hindu and Buddhist sects are vegetarian, as are Seventh-day Adventists. As a general movement vegetarianism arose about the middle of the 19th cent.; it made considerable progress in Great Britain and in the United States. In the contemporary United States, vegetarianism has gained acceptance as a practice that lowers one's risk for the "diseases of affluence," e.g., high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

See C. Spencer, A History of Vegetarianism (1995); T. Stuart The Bloodless Revolution (2007).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Vegetarianism: Selected full-text books and articles

The Philosophy of Vegetarianism
Daniel A. Dombrowski.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1984
Food for the Soul: Vegetarianism and Yoga Traditions
Steven J. Rosen.
Praeger, 2011
Some Economic Benefits and Costs of Vegetarianism
Lusk, Jayson L.; Norwood, F. Bailey.
Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Vol. 38, No. 2, October 2009
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Diet, Life Expectancy, and Chronic Disease: Studies of Seventh-Day Adventists and Other Vegetarians
Gary E. Fraser.
Oxford University Press, 2003
The Vegetarian Crusade: The Rise of an American Reform Movement, 1817-1921
Adam D. Shprintzen.
University of North Carolina Press, 2013
Is God a Vegetarian? Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights
Richard Alan Young.
Open Court, 1999
Controversies in Food and Nutrition
Myrna Chandler Goldstein; Mark A. Goldstein.
Greenwood Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Vegetarian/Vegan Diets"
Food and Cultural Studies
Bob Ashley; Joanne Hollows; Steve Jones; Ben Taylor.
Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "The Meanings of Vegetarianism" begins on p. 188
Sociology on the Menu: An Invitation to the Study of Food and Society
Alan Beardsworth; Teresa Keil.
Routledge, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Vegetarian Option"
Animal Rights: History and Scope of a Radical Social Movement
Harold D. Guither.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Vegetarianism and Animal Rights"
Across the Great Divide: Environmentalists and Animal Rights Activists Battle over Vegetarianism. (Cover Story)
Motavalli, Jim.
E Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 1, January-February 2002
Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism
Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz.
Greenwood, 2010
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.