Thursday, 26 March 2015


“Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?” - Author Unknown

An acquaintance told us this anecdote the other day: He was at the supermarket shopping and he bought a frozen chicken together with his other grocery items. When he got to the check out, the young cashier looked at the chicken with revulsion and asked the customer to handle the chicken himself and put it in a bag, as she couldn’t do it. Our acquaintance complied and placed the chicken in a plastic bag. He was intrigued enough to ask why. The cashier (a young woman of about 16 years) explained that she was a vegetarian and she couldn’t bring herself to touch a “dead animal”. This intrigued and perplexed our friend who is a staunch omnivore.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, and poultry. Vegans are vegetarians who abstain from eating or using all animal products, including milk, cheese, other dairy items, eggs, honey, wool, silk, and leather. Dieticians agree that it is possible to be a vegetarian or a vegan and meet all known nutrient needs. The key to a healthy vegetarian diet, as with any other diet, is to eat a wide variety of foods, including seasonal fruits and vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Sweet and fatty food intake is best limited. Some other terms that may be seen in relation to vegetarianism:
Ovovegetarian - eats eggs; no meat
Lactovovegetarian - eats dairy and egg products; no meat
Lactovegetarian - eats dairy products; no eggs or meat.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is often seen in vegans, as this vitamin comes primarily from animal-derived foods. Vegetarians don’t have a problem as a diet containing dairy products or eggs provides adequate vitamin B12. Vegans can consume fortified foods, such as some brands of cereal, nutritional yeast, soymilk, or other soy products, that are good non-animal sources. Tempeh and sea vegetables are not a reliable source of vitamin B12. To be on the safe side, if you do not consume dairy products, eggs, or fortified foods regularly, you should take a non-animal derived vitamin supplement.

Many cultures and religions around the world espouse vegetarianism as a matter of course and long tradition. An excellent web page on religion and vegetarianism can be found here.  Amongst the lay Westerners, some of the many reasons for being a vegetarian are for health, ecological, and religious concerns, dislike of meat, compassion for animals, belief in non-violence, and economics.

Although I am not a vegetarian, my meat consumption is minimal. I love all sorts of vegetables, fruits, grains, pulses and consume all of these in many ways. The Greek Orthodox faith has several strict fasts throughout the year and what this boils down to essentially is that the faithful need to be vegetarians or vegans during these times. Biologically speaking, human beings have been designed as omnivores. The ancient maxim of Cleobulus, one of the seven sages of ancient Greece, springs to mind: “The mean is best in all things.”

As far as the check out girl is concerned, I respect her vegetarianism and would defend to the death her right to it, however, I think her attitude of “no see, no touch, no think” dead animals is a trifle affected, but after all she is young and she still has to learn a lot about this world and its curiosities…

An amusing and interesting article to read:  “Why I Hate Vegetarians” by Julie Bindel in the “The Guardian” (13/6/2005) 

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