Vegetarianism is no longer considered a fad, something practiced only by health fanatics or rebels against the establishment. According to a 1991 Gallup Poll conducted for the National Restaurant Association, between 20 and 30 percent of the American population is interested in eating vegetarian food. According to a 1994 Roper Poll conducted for the Vegetarian Resource Group, between .3 percent and 1 percent of the population never eats meat. This means that there are between one-half and two million actual vegetarians in this country (Vegetarian Journal, July/August 1994). Most people abstain from meat for health or ethical reasons.
A vegetarian is one who abstains from eating animal flesh. This includes beef, pork, mutton, fish, and poultry. The term “vegetarian” dates back to the early 1840s. Before that time those who abstained from animal flesh were called Pythagoreans, fleshabstainers, or non-meat eaters. The word sometimes gives the impression that only vegetables are eaten. Vegetarians, however, partake of a wide variety of foods, such as grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, dairy products, eggs, and honey.
Vegetarians are classified by what they eat: ovovegetarians will eat eggs; lactovegetarians will eat dairy products; ovo-lac- tovegetarians will eat both eggs and dairy products; total vege- tarians exclude all animal products from their diet, such as eggs,