A vegetarian is a person who excludes food products derived from the slaughter of animals (generally mammals and birds) from their diet. Depending on the individuals preferences and beliefs, some animal products such as eggs, milk, dairy products and fish may be part of the diet. A person who excludes all animal based products from their diet is generally referred to as a vegan.
For the most part, vegetarian diets are very healthy, and certainly contain less fat and more nutrients than omnivorous diets. There are generally only two problems that can arise with such a diet:
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency - Vitamin B-12 is not found in plants and vegetarians must usually take supplements. Milk contains adequate B-12. Some plants are thought to contain B-12, but this contention is quite controversial.
People become vegetarians for a variety of reasons, including religious beliefs, ethical problems with the treatment of animals, and for perceived health benefits.