Vegetarianism is the practice of excluding meat from one’s diet. Vegetarians avoid consuming any animal flesh, including fish and fowl. Some vegetarians eat eggs and/or dairy. Others, vegans, refrain from eating any animal products and subsist on an entirely plant-based diet, typically consisting of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Vegetarians can also be distinguished based on their reasons for abstaining from eating meat. Some do so for reasons of personal health. Others avoid meat for economic reasons or because they have an aesthetic dislike of its taste, smell, or appearance or because their religion prohibits its consumption. But still others, “ethical vegetarians,” do so for moral reasons. In keeping with the ethical focus of this encyclopedia, the remainder of this essay will be concerned exclusively with ethical vegetarianism (also called “moral vegetarianism”).
While a great variety of...
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