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The exclusion may also extend to products derived from animal carcasses, such as lard, tallow, gelatin, rennet and cochineal. This means that a vegetarian diet consists of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and sometimes animal products such as eggs, milk, or cheese. Vegans, on the other hand, shun all animal products. A vegan is someone who lives solely on the products of the plant kingdom without the addition of eggs, dairy or animal products. It is up to the individual to choose what option is better for following its own personal beliefs!
Most people are not awere that vegetarianism has been common in the Indian subcontinent since the 2nd millennium BC. This was mostly for spiritual reasons. Vegetarians in Europe used to be called "Pythagoreans" after the philosopher Pythagoras, who with his followers abstained from meat in the 6th century BC. These people followed a vegetarian diet for nutritional and ethical reasons.
Vegetarian comes from the Latin “vegetus” which means "lively", and is suggestive of the English word "vegetable", as a person who refuses to consume flesh of any kind.
Incidence and trends
Indian vegetarians are estimated to make up more than 70% of the world's vegetarians. They make up 20 to 30% of the population in India, while occasional meat-eaters make up another 30%. In the Western world, the popularity of vegetarianism steadily grew over the 20th century as a result of nutritional, ethical, and more recently, environmental concerns. In a survey made in the U.S. in 2000, 2.5% of the 968 people who participated identified themselves as vegetarians. In 2003 the same source recorded 2.8%, indicating a modest growth of 4% per year over the 4 years. A 1994 and 1997 survey showed about 1%, again indicating that the general trend has been upwards.