Eating no animal flesh or foods derived from them, usually done as a sign of reverence for life. Logically consistent vegetarianism is eating no animal products at all, including milk, honey, cheese, and such foods as yoghurt, beer and wine which depend on bacterial action or yeasts (as in leavened breads and cakes).
Absence of animal flesh and products in the diet – vegetarianism – is practised widely in some Asian countries, and to a much lesser extent in the western industrialized countries. Certain religions do not permit the killing of animals for food on the grounds that a human being should not inflict harm on any sentient creature.
In 1991, there were 3.6 million vegetarians in the UK, 7% of the population, compared with 1.5 million in 1985 and and estimated 100,000 in 1945.
The world already produces enough cereals and oilseeds to feed 10 billion people a vegetarian diet adequate in protein and calories. If, however, the idea is to feed 10 billion people not healthful vegetarian diets but the kind of meat-laden meals that Americans eat, the production of grains and oilseeds may have to triple -- primarily to feed livestock. If Americans would reduce their consumption of meat by only ten percent, it would free 12 million tonnes of grain annually for human consumption -- that is enough grain for 60 million people.
Adopting a so-called vegetarian regime is frequently associated with health food addiction and tobacco and alcohol use intolerance, gains the practitioner identification with an informal cult of international proportions connected by a commercial network of purveyors of vegetarian and other supposed health foods, products and services. It also provides the believer with a secret sense of superiority over the meat-eating humanity.